Physics and Astronomy degrees at St Andrews offer you choice and flexibility. There are three main entry points available: the traditional entry to first year, the accelerated entry point to second year, and the Gateway programme.
This can give you the broadest range of programme choices.
First-year entry students have the opportunity to choose from a broad range of modules in subjects from across the University. Entry at level one also allows a wider choice of degree intention, including the joint degrees with chemistry, computer science or philosophy.
Level-one physics and astronomy modules are designed to be accessible to students joining directly from SQA Highers. Some material may be familiar to students who have successfully completed an Advanced Higher, A-level, or IB course in the topic. These students may still appreciate the revision of core concepts and the emphasis on seeing how the various ideas and equations are determined.
Level-one entry normally takes four years to reach the BSc Honours degree and five years for the Integrated Masters Honours degree.
Level-one entry is required for some of the joint degree programmes, where the requirements of the other subject mean that an accelerated entry cannot be accommodated.
Students with outstanding qualifications could be taking an accelerated route.
The School has an accelerated entry scheme where some students can enter directly into second year of a Physics and Astronomy degree programme and can obtain a BSc Honours degree in three years and an Integrated Masters Honours degree in four years.
Students on this route must have good qualifications at Advanced Highers, A-level, or IB (or equivalent) in both physics and mathematics, and must be aiming for a degree intention within the School or one of the two joint degrees with Mathematics.
In their year of entry these accelerated-entry students take two level-two physics modules, at least two level-two mathematics modules, and other level-one or two modules (which would be astronomy and astrophysics for those students wishing to study for a degree in this area). At the end of their entry year, these students progress to Junior Honours (level three).
The level-two physics modules are designed to be accessible for those who join straight from Advanced Higher, A-level, or IB, although the entry year is likely to be more demanding for level-two entrants than for level-one entrants. The level-two mathematics modules have also been designed to be accessible to those joining with appropriate qualifications. The advantage of direct entry is that you may shorten the length of your degree programme by a year.
In recent years between about a quarter and a half of the School's entrant students took the level-two entry option.
In appropriate circumstances, students may change their level of entry in the first weeks of study at St Andrews.
Direct entry is available for the School's joint degrees with mathematics. Direct entry to second year is not available for the School's joint degrees with chemistry, computer science or philosophy.
Find out more about direct entry to second year.
An alternative route for students from a "widening participation" background.
The Gateway to Physics and Astronomy entry route is for students who live in Scotland and show high potential, but who have not reached (or are not expected to reach) a level close to the normal entry requirement due to circumstances beyond their control.
Here "circumstances beyond their control" could for example include studying at a school with a relatively low average achievement, living in an area of relative disadvantage, or one of the University's other widening participation criteria.
The programme International Gateway to Physics and Astronomy provides a route into a degree programme for talented people from countries which have less physics and mathematics education in school than in the UK. In recent years, a number of students from the USA have attended this programme.
Gateway students spend one year attending a highly supported and interactive programme, with more contact hours per week than the typical first-year student.
About half of your modules will be Gateway-only and are specifically designed to develop and reinforce relevant physics and astronomy, mathematics and study skills. For the other half of your modules, you will be taught physics and mathematics alongside other first-year students. The Gateway-only modules benefit from small class sizes with typically no more than 15 students.
As a Gateway student you are integrated with other first-year students, but you will have additional Gateway-specific learning opportunities, during the time when the traditional cohort might study a module in another subject.
Upon successfully completing the Gateway programme, you may progress into the second year of an astrophysics, physics, theoretical physics or joint degree with mathematics programme. This means you will be able to complete a BSc degree in the standard four years (or five for MPhys).