BSc Physics with Theoretical Physics
Focus on theoretical physics, with more mathematical content and less emphasis on experimental work, in this professionally accredited degree.
Three A-level offer: A*A*A
Applications : admissions ratio
6.9 : 1
Based on 2015 application data
Physics at Imperial covers a broad range of topics in both fundamental and applied physics.
This course is ideally suited to those with a specific interest in mathematics and its application, and places less emphasis on experimental work than our standard Physics courses.
You will follow a similar curriculum to the standard Physics courses for the first two years, covering key topics such as electromagnetism, relativity and quantum physics. As a Theoretical Physics student, you will take an extra mathematics module in both years in place of a physics module.
This core programme provides you with a good grounding in physics, mathematics and experimental methods, and prepares you for advanced study.
In your final year you will have greater flexibility to specialise, with a wide choice of theoretical optional modules in areas such as group theory, general relativity and quantum field theory. You will also have the chance to complete a substantial project on a theoretical physics topic in one of our research groups.
Many of our modules are directly linked to our research so you’ll be learning at the very cutting edge of the subject. Research in our Department has contributed to ground-breaking discoveries in many different fields, from astrophysics to quantum optics and laser science.
Laboratory and computing work
Practical work is an important part of the Physics curriculum at Imperial, and you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities as well as data collected from major experiments such as CERN.
Physics is a practical science and relies on data, so physicists need to understand how data is generated and how to analyse it. You will take laboratory classes to equip you with a wide range of skills such as using apparatus, conducting experiments, interpreting data, and presenting your results.
You will also gain a solid understanding of how to use computers as tools to help model and understand the physics of complicated phenomena. This includes using computers to make advanced calculations and analyse data, and how to use the programming language Python.
Transfer between courses
The high level of shared content in the first two years of our Physics degrees means that transfer to another degree within the Department is usually possible in the first two years.
- To transfer onto the BSc or MSci with Theoretical Physics, you must take the appropriate mathematics module(s).
- Transfer onto the Year in Europe degree must be done at the very start of your first year.
- It is not possible to transfer onto the Physics and Music Performance degree.
- Students interested in the BSc or MSci Physics with Science Education should initially apply for any of the Department's other degrees (excluding Physics and Music Performance) and transfer at the end of their second year.
Please note there is no benefit in applying to multiple courses within the Department of Physics, and you should only apply to one course from this department.
If interviewed, you will have the opportunity to discuss your choice of degree and the potential to transfer on to another degree within the department.
If you are an international student, transferring to a different course could have an impact on your Tier 4 visa. Please visit our International Student Support webpage for further information.
Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.
- Electricity and Magnetism, Relativity
- Laboratory and Computing I
- Mathematical Analysis I
- Measurement and Uncertainty
- Mechanics, Vibrations & Waves
- Professional Skills and Basic Electronics I
- Quantum Physics and Structure of Matter
- Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics
- Electromagnetism and Optics
- Laboratory and Computing II
- Mathematical Methods
- Mathematics and Statistics of Measurement
- Professional Skills II
- Quantum Mechanics
- Solid State Physics
- Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics
- Advanced Classical Physics
- Comprehensive Physics
- Fluid Dynamics
- Light and Matter
- Physics of the Universe
- Professional Skills III
You choose one of the following:
- Physics Essay III
- Physics Project
You choose modules to total 15-18 ECTS credits, and the below groups of modules are given as a guide to what you will be able to choose from.
- Communicating Physics
- Complexity and Networks1
- Computational Physics1
- Foundations of Quantum Mechanics1
- Group Theory1
- Imaging and Biophotonics
- Medical Imaging: Nuclear Diagnostics and MRI
- Medical Imaging: X-Rays and Ultrasound
- Plasma Physics
- Principles of Instrumentation
- Statistical Mechanics1
1 The modules marked (1) are theoretical modules and will make up the majority of your choices
Business and humanities
You may choose one of the modules below to broaden your degree.
- Imperial Horizons – offers a wide range of modules, including languages and humanities options, which are designed to broaden your education, inspire your creativity and enhance your professional impact
- Business for Professional Engineers and Scientists
This degree is professionally accredited by the Institute of Physics.
Holders of accredited degrees can follow a route to Institute Membership and the CPhys professional qualification.
Achieving a professionally accredited degree demonstrates to employers that you have achieved an industry-recognised standard of competency. It also brings international recognition of your qualification, which is particularly useful for students preparing for a career abroad.
BSc or MSci?
As professionally accredited qualifications, our BSc Physics courses partially satisfy the academic requirement for professional registration as a Chartered Physicist (CPhys). This is a highly respected qualification earned by professionals working in physics, which can lead to higher earning potential and better career prospects.
Partially satisfying the academic requirements means that you will need to demonstrate that you have knowledge equivalent to an accredited integrated Master’s degree on your route to gaining Chartered status after you graduate.
Our MSci courses fully satisfy the academic requirement, meaning you will not need to complete any further study, though all CPhys applicants need to meet certain professional competence requirements.
Our accreditation agreement with the Institute of Physics is renewed every five years.
The current accreditation agreement is due to be renewed for students starting their studies in the 2020–21 academic year. The Department expects to be accredited into the future.
As well as your main Imperial degree, you will also receive the award of the Associateship of the Royal College of Science (ARCS) on completion of this course.
The Royal College of Science is one of three historic Colleges that came together to form Imperial College London in 1907.
Find out more about our Associateships.
Teaching and assessment
You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and computing labs. You will be able to utilise the office hours of staff from the department to discuss your progress.
There will also be group and individual project work, in order to ensure our degrees provide a strong set of additional skills, such as presentation and communicative skills.
Our Physics degrees use a variety of assessment methods, the list below provides a guide to what you can expect:
- Written examinations
- Assessed problem sheets
- Laboratory and project reports
- Continuous assessments, e.g. essay writing
- Group and individual presentations
At Imperial, you will be taught by a range of teachers of all levels from Professors to PhD students, including some who undertake groundbreaking research and are regarded as experts in their field.
You may also experience peer teaching and be taught by specialists external to the College.
Compare this course
See how this course compares with similar courses at different institutions using the Unistats Key Information Set (KIS).
You can use the KIS to find out how this course compares in areas such as the proportion of time spent in timetabled teaching and independent study, how the course is assessed, student satisfaction and what our graduates are doing six months after completing this course.
We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis – see selection process below.
For advice on the requirements for the qualifications listed here please contact the Department (see Contact us).
We also accept a wide range of international qualifications. If the requirements for your qualifications are not listed here, please see our academic requirements by country page for guidance on which qualifications we accept.
Typical offer range
As a guide, the typical offer made in 2016 to at least 85% of applicants studying A-levels was A*A*A.
Subject and grade requirements (2018 entry)
We expect applicants for 2018 entry to meet the following grade requirements in these subjects:
- A* in Mathematics
- A in Physics
General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.
Practical endorsement (practical science assessment)
If you are made an offer you will be required to achieve a pass in the practical endorsement in all science subjects that form part of the offer.
Typical offer range
As a guide, the typical offer made in 2016 to at least 85% of applicants studying IB was 40 points overall.
Subject and grade requirements (2018 entry)
We expect applicants for 2018 entry to meet the following grade requirements in these subjects:
- 7, 6, 6 at higher level including Mathematics and Physics
Our minimum requirement for this course is grades 5, 5, 5 to include:
- 5 in Calculus BC
- 5 in Physics C Electricity and Magnetism
- 5 in Physics C Mechanics
Assessing your application
Admissions Tutors consider all the evidence available during our rigorous selection process and the College flags key information providing assessors with a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances relevant to the applicant.
Some applicants may be set lower offers and some more challenging ones. It is the College’s policy to not make offers below three A’s at A-level in relevant subjects, 38 IB points with at least a grade 6 at higher level in relevant subjects, or their equivalent.
A typical range of offers made by this Department in 2016 (encompassing at least 85% of applicants who studied A-level or IB) is shown above.
Post-application interview day
If your UCAS application indicates that you are likely to satisfy our requirements you will be invited for one of our post-application interview days with a member of our academic staff.
Because we receive many more excellent applications than we have places available, our interviews will involve some technical discussions so that we can assess candidates with similar academic records and predictions.
You will have the chance to have lunch with our undergraduates. You will also meet with a member of the admissions team. This meeting is an opportunity to find out more about the course, our Department and College facilities, and social life in general.
It also gives us the chance to assess your suitability for the course, to learn about your interests and motivation, and to decide whether to offer you a place.
If you have not decided exactly which of our courses you want to apply for you can use the interview to discuss your choice with us. You will normally be able to see one of the labs and some of our research work.
Candidates who are unable (for travel reasons) to attend an interview will be assessed solely on the basis of their UCAS application. However we are keen to interview candidates wherever possible.
English language qualifications (all applicants)
All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.
For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for undergraduate applicants.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students who apply for this course.
For more information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), please see the International Student Support website.
Tuition fees and funding
We charge tuition fees for every year that your course lasts. The fee you will be charged is based on your fee status, which is determined by government regulations.
Tuition fees (Home and EU students)
|£9,250 per year|
The above fee applies to the academic year 2017–18 only. This is the maximum rate of tuition chargeable by institutions that achieved a ‘meet expectations’ award under the first year of the UK government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
In its TEF: Year Two specification guidance document, the government confirmed that all institutions achieving a Bronze rating or higher in Year Two will be able to charge the maximum capped amount. These ratings will be announced in spring 2017.
You should expect the fee to increase for each year that your course lasts, subject to UK government regulations on fee increases.
We expect EU students will continue to pay the Home rate of tuition as long as the UK remains in the EU, and for the duration of their course, provided this remains lawful.
If you're a Home student, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan from the UK government to cover the entire cost of tuition for every year of your course. You can also apply for a means-tested Maintenance Loan to help towards your living costs.
EU students entering university in the UK in 2017 also have access to the Tuition Fee Loan for the duration of their course. The government has not yet confirmed arrangements for EU students starting university in 2018.
Tuition fees (Islands and Overseas students)
|£27,000 per year|
The above fee applies to the academic year 2017–18 only. The fee for the 2018–19 academic fee has not yet been set by the College. We will update this page as soon as this fee information is available so please check back before submitting an application for 2018 entry.
Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year.
Accommodation and living costs
Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.
Over 90 per cent of Imperial undergraduates choose to live in our halls of residence in their first year. You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.
A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.
Bursaries and scholarships
Imperial’s Physics graduates are sought after by a wide range of employers – for example, the electronics industry needs physicists to design next-generation display technologies, lasers, optical fibres and advanced semiconductor devices. Increasingly the energy sector looks to physicists to improve photovoltaic cells for solar energy generation, to optimise wave and wind power technologies, and to improve the efficiency of electrical components.
Recent graduates of the Department have become:
- Research Analyst, National Physical Laboratory
- Operational Researcher, Department of Energy and Climate Change
- Research Engineer, A*STAR, Singapore
- Systems Engineer, BAE Systems
- Innovations Analyst, Carbon Trust
How to apply
UCAS key information
- UCAS course code: F325
- UCAS institution code: I50
UCAS Apply system
To apply to study at Imperial you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
All applications, other than those which include choices for medicine at Imperial, must be submitted to UCAS by 18.00 (UK time) on 15 January 2018 for entry in October 2018.
The deadline for medicine courses at Imperial starting in 2018 is 18.00 (UK time) on 15 October 2017.
Tracking your application
Once you’ve completed and submitted your application through UCAS’s online Apply service, you can use UCAS’ Track system to follow its progress and manage your choices.
See our How to apply section for further guidance.
You may also be interested in the following related departments and the courses they offer:
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Living in London
London’s fusion of culture and charm will give you a student experience unlike any other, and our first-year accommodation guarantee means that you'll have the perfect base from which to explore this exciting city.
We want to attract the very best students, regardless of their financial background. That's why we offer the most generous bursary scheme of any UK university, as well as a range of scholarships.