The University of Southampton

F3FX MPhys Physics with Space Science (4 Years)

Fuel your fascination for space and for the technologies we use to investigate it. As well as studying the fundamentals of physics, you’ll explore a range of space-related fields, from the essentials of astronomy through to satellite design and space weather. This degree includes a field trip to Tenerife, where you’ll work on an intensive one-week space science mission design project as part of an international team. The specialist skills and knowledge you gain on this space science degree will equip you for a role in the fast-growing space economy.

How to applyFind out how to apply for this course

Introducing your degree

We're ranked 6th in the UK for physics by the Guardian University Guide 2019.

Explore the universe through space science – science that uses data gathered in space rather than on Earth. You’ll examine phenomena in the space environment that can only be monitored from space, such as geomagnetic storms and solar wind. You’ll also combine your physics knowledge with key space engineering principles to learn about spacecraft design.

The use of space-based technology is expanding, with applications ranging from scientific research and environmental monitoring through to broadcasting and security. With the global space market set to almost double by 2030, your skills will be in high demand.

This is one of just a few UK undergraduate degrees to offer an advanced module in space plasma physics – the fascinating science behind space weather. It’s a crucial area of study because severe space weather can pose serious risks on Earth, including power outages and satellite communication disruption.

Christine McCullough
The field trip to Tenerife was an incredible experience. Although we had to work hard to design a gamma ray telescope mission, we also enjoyed a few hard-earned siestas with the Spanish students at La Laguna University.
Christine McCullough, MPhys Physics with Space Science, 2015


What is this?(More Information)This information is based on historical data and may have been aggregated. It is also subject to theUniversity's disclaimer notice.

You’ll learn about the fundamentals of conducting science from space, applying your core physics knowledge to exciting fields such as:

  • space-based astronomy, including the use and design of X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes
  • astronautics, including spacecraft and instrumentation design, launch, orbit and re-entry – this is taught by the University’s highly regarded space engineers
  • the space environment and space weather through the study of space plasma physics

A unique feature of the course is the one-week Tenerife study trip, where you’ll be challenged to produce a convincing proposal for a space science mission, working as part of an international and interdisciplinary team. You’ll design a space-based telescope and its instrumentation, plan its launch and orbit, and present your proposal to a panel of experts, as though applying for European Space Agency funding.

In the final year you’ll put your scientific training into practice. Working with another student, you’ll conduct an in-depth research project on an aspect of space science or astronomy that interests you. You’ll have access to real research data, for example: 

  • data generated by European Space Agency and NASA missions, to investigate the space environment around Earth, Saturn or other planets in our solar system
  • data from our state-of-the-art monitoring instrumentation in the Arctic, to study the fine-scale processes of the aurora

View the 2018/19 programme specification document for this course

View the 2019/20 programme specification document for this course

Research-grade facilities

You’ll use state-of-the-art equipment in our teaching laboratories, with guidance from expert technicians who are there to support your experimental work. Specialist facilities include: 

  • an observatory on the roof of the Physics and Astronomy building with high-spec telescopes
  • a photonics lab with the latest laser equipment
  • one of the world's most powerful supercomputers
  • a £120m clean room for fabrication at the atomic level – one of the best of its kind in Europe

You’ll also benefit from our recently refurbished Physics and Astronomy foyer, with a specialist library and dedicated study spaces.

A top-five research department

Study with us and you’ll join one of the top five Russell Group departments for physics and astronomy research (REF 2014). Our research reputation is built on a track record of discovery and we remain on the frontline of new developments. For example, Southampton physicists were instrumental in the development of erbium doped amplifiers – components that make today’s internet possible – and more recently our scientists were involved in detecting gravitational waves and light from the collision of two neutron stars for the first time.

You’ll be taught by physicists and space engineers who are actively involved in space science research. For example, you’ll work with staff who have put a gamma ray telescope into space with the European Space Agency. This means you’ll hear about discoveries as soon as they happen – often before they are published in the media – and we regularly update our modules based on new findings.


Our MPhys Physics programmes are accredited by the Institute of Physics

Programme Structure

Throughout the degree you’ll study core physics subjects alongside your specialist space science modules. In year four you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of optional modules, enabling you to deepen your knowledge in specialist fields of physics or study space science-related topics such as oceanography and hydrology.

You could also broaden your intellectual horizons by studying a language or choosing from a range of innovative cross-disciplinary modules, on topics as varied as business, music, law and earth sciences. 

If you change your mind about your field of study after you arrive, it’s possible to switch from the MPhys Physics with Space Science degree to the MPhys Physics, BSc Physics or MPhys Physics with Astronomy programme before the end of the first year.

To Apply

All undergraduate applications for Physics and Astronomy should be made online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Find out how to apply and get further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details.

Key Facts

The Guardian University Guide 2019 ranks us 6th in the UK for physics

Top three for Overall Student Satisfaction in the Russell Group in the National Student Survey for the last four years (not all Russell Group universities are returned in the National Student Survey every year).

Study the fundamentals of physics as well as space-related fields, from astronomy to satellite design and space plasma physics

This degree includes a field trip to Tenerife where you'll work on a space science mission design project

With the global space market set to almost double by 2030, your skills will be in high demand

Welcome to Physics and Astronomy at Southampton

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

A Levels:
A Level

AAA, including AA in Mathematics and Physics.


GCSE Mathematics and English at grade C or above

Alternative qualifications:

We welcome applications from candidates offering qualifications other than A and AS levels (including BTEC, European Baccalaureate, International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate and Scottish Highers). You will be expected to attain an equivalent standard to an A level applicant.

International applicants:

We welcome applications from international students. Visit our international site for more information about our international student community, support and how to apply.

Mature applicants:

We welcome applications from mature students. If you will be over 21 at the start of your proposed degree programme, you are eligible for exemption from our normal entry requirements. However, you will be required to provide evidence of having completed recent study (eg Access, Return to Study, Open University foundation courses) and of your capacity to pursue the course.

Selection process:

We select students on the basis of a UCAS application and an invitation to visit the department. UCAS code: F3FX Course title: MPhys Physics with Space Science Course duration: 4 years


Career Opportunities

Career prospects for space scientists are excellent. The global space economy is expanding, the government is planning to increase the UK’s share of the space market, and there’s a proliferation of new commercial space ventures. In addition, the importance of monitoring space weather is increasingly recognised – severe space weather is now listed as one of the highest priority natural hazards in the UK National Risk Register.

You’ll be able to apply your knowledge in a growing number of fields, including space-based scientific research, telecommunications and satellite imaging. Or you could choose to go on to further study – a path followed by around a third of our Physics and Astronomy graduates.

If you decide on a career outside physics, you’ll be able to demonstrate transferable skills such as computation and coding, statistical analysis, communication and problem-solving. In addition, your physics degree will indicate to employers that you are an independent thinker who is intellectually curious, insightful and not afraid of a challenge.

 Tailored careers support

If you’re not sure about a career path yet, we’ll offer the support you need to help you decide. You can attend a programme of career-focused sessions in year two, designed specially for physics students and timetabled to fit in with your studies. They include application and interview workshops, as well as talks from visiting professionals. We can also help you to find a paid summer placement through the South East Physics Network scheme, giving you valuable real-world experience and the chance to make industry contacts.

Career destinations

Our graduates work in the private and public sectors, in government, defence, finance, business, and industry. Here are just some of the roles they have secured:

  • astrophysicist
  • acoustician
  • air traffic controller
  • bioinformatics specialist
  • data analyst
  • government science policy officer
  • medical physicist 
  • satellite engineer
  • science communicator
  • software engineer
  • statistician
  • systems analyst
  • weather forecaster
  • web developer

Learning & Assessment

Professionalism in teaching

You’ll learn from academics who pay as much care and attention to their teaching as they do to their research. We’re keen to share our knowledge and enthusiasm for physics with you, and inspire the next generation of physicists.

Find out more about our commitment to professionalism in teaching.

We combine traditional teaching and learning methods with tried-and-tested innovations to improve your learning experience. On the mission design projects, you’ll learn through your own research, delving into different topics to gain the knowledge you need to complete the task. In lectures you might use interactive technology to ask a question from your seat and receive a response during the session. Or you can get a bit of extra help by watching a tutor explain a tricky physics problem via online video tutorials.

Breakdown of study time and assessment

Proportion of time spent in scheduled learning, teaching and independent study
Learning, teaching and assessment stage1234
Scheduled learning & teaching study39%28%20%16%
Independent study61%72%80%84%
Placement study0%0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage1234
Written exam assessment44%61%81%63%
Practical exam assessment23%10%0%4%
Coursework assessment33%29%19%33%

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Course fees for 2017/18 full-time UK and EU undergraduate students are typically £9,250 per year. Tuition fees for international students differ between each course. Most part-time courses cost 50% of the full-time fee.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

European Dimension in Space (PHYS2030)
The one-week field trip component takes place within the Easter break, at the premises of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife. While the field trip is heavily subsidised by the faculty, a student contribution to the costs is required. Flight costs, all local travel costs in Spain, and all hotel accommodation costs are included. The only unavoidable costs students will incur in Spain are food costs during the day. Any student who genuinely cannot afford to pay the student contribution for some reason should contact the course co-ordinator to discuss this privately. For students taking this module in AY 2016/17, the cost will be £275.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

Approved CalculatorsCandidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc). Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
TextbooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.

Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and Photocopying CostsIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays; projects; dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here:

In some cases you’ll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at


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