School of Physics and Astronomy

Search site

Theoretical Physics MPhys, BSc

(Full time) 2018 start

Theoretical Physics MPhys

Physics is the most fundamental of all sciences. It observes and explores the physical laws and principles that govern the nature of the universe and is stimulating and inspiring.

On this course, you’ll develop thorough knowledge and understanding of the theoretical basis of modern physics, with particular focus on the mathematical aspects. You can explore advanced topics in physics that relate to our research strengths – from cosmology to quantum information. You’ll develop a solid grounding in how mathematical methods are applied to physics topics.

On this course you’ll get involved in real research via several routes, such as through our group industrial project module and your final year research project. We offer all students the chance to apply to do a summer research placement, where you’ll work with our researchers and be paid a salary. As well as advancing you as a physicist, these opportunities allow you to develop transferable skills that can help you achieve your aspirations.

Enhancing your degree

This course offers you the opportunity to spend a year working in industry or studying at a university abroad, both of which provide valuable experience and help your personal development. A study abroad year replaces a year of your degree, whilst undertaking an industrial placement year adds an additional year to the course length.

Our industrial placement scheme gives you the opportunity to gain work experience in an industry relevant to your degree and interests. Our students often describe this industrial experience as an invaluable part of their degree and one which stands them in good stead for their future careers.

The study abroad year enables you to gain insight into the study of physics at one of our partner universities overseas. Many students have found this to be extremely worthwhile in helping broaden their horizons in terms of learning about a new culture and improving their foreign language skills.

It is possible to transfer to the 3 year BSc course up until the end of your second year.


This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Throughout the first two years of your degree, you’ll study core physics topics, including quantum physics, relativity, and solid state physics. Alongside this, you will explore mathematics topics such as differentiation and integration, vector calculus, and matrices. You’ll also have the option to take modules offered by our research groups, such as astrophysics or nanophysics, or even electives from other departments via discovery modules. We expect you to gain an understanding of basic laboratory skills in year one, so that you can gain a better sense of how experimentation and theory work together in physics.

From third year onwards, you can choose advanced options from a wide range of modules in both physics and mathematics. In your final year, you will choose either to extend your understanding of current theoretical physics by carrying out a critical literature review or to gain experience of actual research by undertaking a project. The literature review can deal with cutting-edge topics such as string theory or quantum computing. The research project could be related to the School’s research interests in theoretical physics, such as liquid state physics, gauge fields, knots and polymers, biological membranes and quantum information.

When you finish this programme, you’ll have a sound knowledge and understanding of the core observations, concepts and quantitative theoretical structures that constitute our contemporary understanding of the physical world, as well as an enhanced interpersonal skillset of problem solving, independent learning, verbal and written communication and presentation skills, all of which will help you to progress into your desired career path.

Course structure

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Introductory Linear Algebra 10 credits
  • Physics Laboratory 1- Introduction to Experimental Physics (A) 10 credits
  • Physics Laboratory 2- Introduction to Experimental Physics (B) 10 credits
  • Physics 1- Fundamental Forces 25 credits
  • Physics 2- Properties of Matter 25 credits
  • Computing 1- Fundamentals of Programming 10 credits
  • Maths 1- Scalars and Vectors 10 credits
  • Maths 2- Multivariable Calculus 10 credits

Optional modules

  • Introduction to Medical Imaging 10 credits
  • Stars and Galaxies 10 credits
  • Planets and the Search for Life 10 credits
  • Introduction to Nanotechnology 10 credits
  • The Atmosphere of Planet Earth 10 credits
  • Introduction to Meteorology and Weather Forecasting 10 credits
  • Water in the Environment 10 credits

Discovery modules

  • Number Systems 15 credits

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Communicating Physics 5 credits
  • Physics 3- Fields and Energy 25 credits
  • Physics 4- Quantum and Nuclear Physics 25 credits
  • Maths 3- Matrices and Operators 10 credits
  • Maths 4- Transforms and Partial Differential Equations 10 credits

Optional modules

  • Science Education: Issues and Challenges 10 credits
  • Groups and Vector Spaces 15 credits
  • Rings, Fields and Polynomials 10 credits
  • Geometry of Curves and Surfaces 10 credits
  • Further Linear Algebra 10 credits
  • Nonlinear Differential Equations 10 credits
  • Fluid Dynamics 1 10 credits
  • Calculus of Variations 10 credits
  • Medical Imaging and Cancer 10 credits
  • High Energy Astrophysics 10 credits
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution 10 credits
  • Computing 2- Computational Physics 10 credits
  • Nanophysics and Nanotechnology 10 credits
  • Meteorology 10 credits
  • Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics 10 credits
  • Atmospheric Physics 10 credits

Year 3

Optional modules

  • Understanding and Communicating Science 10 credits
  • History of Mathematics 15 credits
  • Groups and Symmetry 15 credits
  • Differential Geometry 15 credits
  • Coding Theory 15 credits
  • Algebras and Representations 15 credits
  • Topology 15 credits
  • Transformation Geometry 15 credits
  • Hamiltonian Systems 15 credits
  • Mathematical Methods 15 credits
  • Linear and Non-Linear Waves 15 credits
  • Quantum Mechanics 15 credits
  • Nonlinear Dynamics 15 credits
  • Analytic Solutions of Partial Differential Equations 15 credits
  • Introduction to Polymeric Fluids 15 credits
  • Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 15 credits
  • Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics 15 credits
  • Modern Numerical Methods 15 credits
  • Cosmology 10 credits
  • Evolutionary Modelling 15 credits
  • Fluid Dynamics 2 15 credits
  • Cardiovascular Medical Imaging 10 credits
  • Digital Radiography and X-ray Computed Tomography 10 credits
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging 10 credits
  • Ultrasound Imaging 10 credits
  • Radionuclide Imaging 10 credits
  • Medical Image Analysis 10 credits
  • Introduction to Philosophy of Modern Physics 10 credits
  • Cosmology 15 credits
  • Photonics 15 credits
  • Group Industrial Project 15 credits
  • Molecular Simulation: Theory and Practice 15 credits
  • Star and Planet Formation 15 credits
  • Advanced Quantum Mechanics 15 credits
  • Quantum Photonics 15 credits
  • Quantum Matter 15 credits
  • Magnetism in Condensed Matter 15 credits
  • Statistical Mechanics 15 credits
  • Professional Skills in Physics 5 credits
  • Advanced Mechanics 15 credits
  • Bionanophysics 1 15 credits
  • Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics 15 credits
  • Physics in Schools 15 credits

Year 4

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project 60 credits

Optional modules

  • Linear Analysis 1 20 credits
  • Advanced Differential Geometry 20 credits
  • Advanced Hamiltonian Systems 20 credits
  • Advanced Mathematical Methods 20 credits
  • Advanced Quantum Mechanics 20 credits
  • Advanced Polymeric Fluids 20 credits
  • Advanced Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 20 credits
  • Advanced Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics 20 credits
  • Advanced Evolutionary Modelling 20 credits
  • Soft Matter Physics: Liquid Crystals 15 credits
  • Quantum Many-Body Physics 15 credits
  • Winds, Bubbles and Explosions 15 credits
  • Bionanophysics 2: Advanced Bionanophysics Research 15 credits
  • Advanced Group Industrial Project 15 credits
  • Superconductivity 15 credits
  • Soft Matter Physics: Polymers, Colloids and Glasses 15 credits
  • Quantum Transport in Nanostructures 15 credits
  • Quantum Field Theory 15 credits
  • General Relativity 15 credits
  • Quantum Information Science and Technology 15 credits
  • Current Research Topics in Physics 15 credits
  • Advanced Physics in Schools 15 credits

To find module level details follow this link (Opens new window)

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Broadening your academic horizons

At Leeds we want you to benefit from the depth and breadth of the University's expertise, to prepare you for success in an ever-changing and challenging world. This course gives you the opportunity to broaden your learning by studying discovery modules. Find out more on the Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

You will be taught through several different teaching methods including lectures, workshops, small-group tutorials, laboratory work, project work and computer-aided learning. In the first two years, the material you learn in lectures is supported by a mixture of small group tutorials and larger weekly workshops, where lecturers work with a team of demonstrators to improve your practical problem solving skills related to the topic. In later years, the lecturer will usually support their own specialist material through bi-weekly workshops.

All students in the School of Physics and Astronomy are assigned a personal tutor. Your personal tutor is there to offer advice, monitor your progress, and be your first point of contact during your undergraduate years.

There are various facilities to support you with your studies including extensive computer clusters. The Edward Boyle Science and Engineering Library is only a short walk from the School of Physics and Astronomy and has multiple copies of the recommended books, as well as a variety of different studying environments, such as personal and flexible group work areas. The School itself provides additional computing and study areas.


You are assessed primarily through formal examinations, though other methods include practical work, oral presentations, written reports and tutorial work. The variety of assessment modes allows you to develop a broad range of skills and demonstrate a variety of talents.

Details on the types of assessment used for each module can be found on the University Module Catalogue.

Entry requirements

A level: AAA including physics and mathematics.

We do not accept A-level general studies and/or critical thinking as part of the requirement.

Applicants taking a Science A-level (in England) will be required to achieve a pass in the practical element in addition to the standard A-level grade requirement.

GCSE: C in English Language

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.


Foundation year

If you have the ability to study for a degree but don’t have the qualifications to enter directly to level one, you might consider studying a foundation year. We have formal links with the following foundation year programmes:

- University of Leeds International Foundation Year (IFY)

- Northern Consortium of UK Universities (NCUK)

- Study Group Leeds International Study Centre (LISC)

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to our courses.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.

How to apply

Apply to this course through UCAS. The institution code for the University of Leeds is L23. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK/EU students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences Undergraduate Admissions Policy


UK/EU: See fees section below

International: £21,500 (per year)

For UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2017, the fee for 2017/18 will be £9,250. 

The fee for undergraduate students starting in 2018 will be confirmed in September 2017.

The fee is likely to increase in future years of your course in line with inflation, and as permitted by law. For example, the increase of 2.8% for 2017/18 was based on the government’s forecast for the RPI-X measure of inflation.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students starting in 2017 will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans for the duration of their course. Read the full government statement

The UK government has also confirmed that non-UK EU students in 2018-19 will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans. The UK government has not confirmed the situation for future years, so keep checking our website for updates.

If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Physics graduates are in demand for some of the highest paid and most satisfying roles in employment. The numerical, analytical and problem solving skills you will develop, as well as your specialist subject knowledge, are highly valued across sectors, including aerospace, electronics, energy, environment, and transport. This course also allows you to develop the transferable skills that employers seek.

One of the key features of this course is the final year research project, an opportunity to work with one of our internationally-recognised research groups. This is an excellent opportunity to develop your independent research skills in addition to your teamwork abilities, which will prepare you for a career in research in both academia and industry. Almost a third of our students progress to PhD study or other postgraduate qualifications.

For further information on career paths and employability please see our careers pages. To read about the careers of School of Physics and Astronomy alumni, see our alumni profiles.

Careers support

Throughout your degree course we will make sure that you have the support and opportunity to develop the skills and experience you’ll need to make the most of your career choices.

Our industrial placement scheme helps you gain valuable work experience that can help you stand out from the crowd. You could also secure a part-time job that you can feature on your CV through the students’ union's Joblink.

Our study abroad scheme allows you to experience another culture and develop life skills, which many employers value. The students’ union also provides volunteering opportunities which can help you in your personal development.

We teach problem-solving and high level thinking at all stages of your degree. Our programmes provide you with opportunities to develop the core subject knowledge and skills that you need to progress to a career in a particular area of physics and we enable you to get involved with and gain experience of real physics research.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. The University has partnerships with more than 400 universities worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Spending a year living and studying in another country is a unique experience. Unlike the passing tourist, you have the chance to totally immerse yourself in another culture. You will gain unforgettable experiences and memories that you will draw upon in your working and personal life for years to come. In addition to this, the proven ability to live and work in an international context is an asset that many employers actively seek.

On this course, your year abroad adds an additional year to your studies.

During your year abroad, you will study physics at your host institution. Many students find it valuable to undertake an extended practical project during this year that can be presented as part of your assessment for the year.

Students who spend a year in Europe through the ERASMUS programme also receive a maintenance grant for their year away and pay a reduced tuition fee for the year abroad.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

The industrial placement (“Year in Industry”) scheme provides you with the opportunity to experience salaried work before you graduate. Employers actively seek graduates who already have work experience and it can make all the difference in interviews. In addition, the opportunity to work every day with scientists who are experts in their field is an incredible opportunity to enhance your knowledge of physics.

On this course, your industrial placement adds an additional year to your studies.

An industrial placement will boost your self-confidence, not only in your chosen subject area, but in the marketplace generally. You will be able to choose from a range of physics-related organisations in which to work. In previous years, students have worked at many prestigious companies, including:

  • IBM
  • KPMG
  • Q8
  • Unilever

During your industrial placement you will have an industrial supervisor from within the company, plus an academic supervisor who will keep in touch throughout your placement.

If you are not sure right now whether or not an industrial placement is right for you, don't worry - you will not have to start applying for placements until the beginning of your second year.

Key facts

UCAS code:

4 years full time

Typical A level offer:
(specific subjects required)

UK/EU fees:
See fees section below
International fees:
£21,500 (per year)

Study abroad option:

Work placement option:

Course Terms and Conditions

Contact us:
School of Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Admissions Enquiries
+44 (0) 113 343 3881

Calum Hawcroft

MPhys Physics with Astrophysics

"The facilities at the University of Leeds were far better than those at other universities I had been to visit. I was impressed by the facilities in my school and also at the university in general."