The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.
- Standard entry grades:
- AAAA, including A in both: Mathematics and Physics.
- Minimum entry grades:
- AAAB, including A in both: Mathematics and Physics.
- Gateway entry grades:
- Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
- Standard entry grades:
- AAA, including A in both: Mathematics and Physics.
- Minimum entry grades:
- AAB, including A in both: Mathematics and Physics.
- Standard entry grades:
- 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in both Mathematics and Physics.
- Minimum entry grades:
- 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in both Mathematics and Physics.
General entry requirements
All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.
SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
- Computing science
- Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:
- Computing Science
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.
More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.
Do I need to have studied this subject before?
Students must have studied both Physics and Mathematics at SQA Highers, GCE A-Levels, or equivalent. Preference will be given to candidates offering strong science qualifications.
Alternative study options
Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:
Students can also take Physics as a standard four-year BSc degree. Direct entry into second year for the BSc degree is also possible, allowing them to complete it in three years instead of four. Students interested in this course may also be interested in the BSc in Astrophysics.
Direct entry to second year
Well-qualified school and college leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year. This allows them to complete their degree programme in four years instead of five. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Physics MPhys.
The Physics and Astronomy Gateway provides an alternative entry route, with built-in additional support, for Scottish students who meet some or all of the University's widening participation criteria.
Physics and astronomy students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.
The MPhys in Physics is a five-year Integrated Masters course run by the School of Physics and Astronomy. It will take four years for those taking direct entry to second year. During your degree, you will be introduced to core topics in mainstream physics – such as mechanics, waves, light, electricity and magnetism – as well as learn the fundamental mathematical and computational skills needed for application to physics.
In the first two years of your studies, you will also study modules from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, as mathematics is the language of physics. Depending on how many mathematics modules you choose to do, you may be able to choose modules in other subjects such as astronomy, chemistry, computer science, philosophy, or many other subjects from across the University. The flexible nature of the degree programmes at St Andrews means that by appropriate choice of modules in first and second year, you may be able to change your final degree topic during your course. Find out more about how academic years are organised.
As you advance in your degree, you are given more flexibility to choose your focus of study, whether that be in theoretical physics or in the direct application of physics to particular areas of interest.
The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.
In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in physics and mathematics, with the possibility of modules in another subject as well.
Typically, you will take one physics modules per semester during your first two years, and four to five modules per semester during your third, fourth and fifth year (known as Honours).
Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year:
- Physics 1A: covers the core elements of mechanics, waves and optics, laboratory work, and the physical properties of matter.
- Physics 1B: covers an introduction to quantum physics, the mechanics of rotation and gravity, lasers, and includes laboratory skills.
- Mathematics: introduces the ideas and techniques required for further study of mathematics or applications to other sciences.
Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year:
- Physics 2A: covers mechanics, special relativity, oscillations, thermal physics, and laboratory skills.
- Physics 2B: covers quantum physics, electricity, magnetism and classical waves, and laboratory skills.
- Linear Mathematics: introduces the theory of vector spaces, linear independence, linear transformations and diagonalisation.
- Multivariate Calculus: extends the techniques of calculus in a single variable to the setting of real functions of several variables.
If you decide to take physics in your third and fourth year, you will cover advanced theory and applications in some or all of the following subjects:
- mathematics for physicists
- quantum mechanics
- thermal and statistical physics.
You will also take ‘Transferable Skills for Physicists’ which provides training and practice in advanced written and oral communication skills, problem solving and teamwork.
You will take advanced research-led modules in your chosen speciality. Advanced modules offered in the past have covered the following topics:
- advanced data analysis
- advanced Quantum mechanics
- atomic, nuclear, and particle physics
- applications of quantum physics
- communication and teaching in science
- condensed matter physics
- general relativity
- Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics
- principles of lasers
- Monte Carlo radiation transport techniques
- physics of music
- principles of optics
- quantum optics
- signals and information.
In fifth year, you will also undertake an advanced physics project on a topic selected from an offered list and with supervision by a member of academic staff. Projects are often run within the School’s research laboratories, and sometimes lead to publications in the scientific literature.
The project aims to develop students' skills in searching physics literature and in experimental design, the evaluation and interpretation of data, and in the presentation of results. The project will be presented in the form of a review paper, a research report, and an oral presentation.
The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.
Physics modules are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops and laboratory work.
In both first and second year, each physics module typically consists of four to five lectures per week (around 120 to 150 students), along with one problem-solving workshop, one small group tutorial (7 to 11 students), and 2.5 hours in the teaching laboratory. Laboratory work is usually undertaken in pairs in first year and individually in second year.
At Honours level, modules typically consist of three lectures per week (5 to 140 students), along with tutorials (5 to 11 students). There are two physics lab modules in which students work two afternoons a week in the lab exploring aspects of physics and developing lab skills.
In your final semester, you will focus solely on your final project.
When not attending lectures, tutorials and labs, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:
- working on individual and group projects
- undertaking research in the library or online
- preparing for laboratory work
- preparing coursework assignments and presentations
- preparing for examinations.
During first and second year, most modules are assessed by a mix of coursework and written examinations. In Honours years, assessment depends on the nature of the specific module. Most modules give a higher weighting to written examinations, but some are assessed solely through coursework.
- laboratory work
- writing of a review article
- classroom tests
- tutorial participation.
Most examinations are held at the end of the semester during a dedicated exam diet and revision time is provided beforehand.
The School provides feedback on assessments and coursework within a time specified for the assignment – in some cases two days, in some cases two weeks. Feedback is given with a view to improving your performance in the future.
Undergraduates on the MPhys in Physics can find information on progressing through the degree in the Physics programme requirements.
Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.
You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of physics and will have significant interaction with staff within the School. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of laboratory classes and tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.
You can find contact information for all physics staff on the School of Physics and Astronomy website.
The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.
England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
Channel Islands, Isle of Man
EU and overseas
More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.
Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.
Funding and scholarships
Joint Honours degrees
You can also take Physics as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.
- UCAS code FG31: Bachelor of Science (Honours) Mathematics and Physics
- UCAS code FV30: Bachelor of Science (Honours) Philosophy and Physics
- UCAS code FGH1: Master in Physics (Honours) Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
- UCAS code FF13: Master in Science (Honours) Chemistry and Physics
Normally, for joint degree programmes, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. However, the Chemistry and Physics MSci joint degree programme has different entry requirements. Select the joint option above to see the entry requirements.
Graduates from the School enjoy a range of career options. Some use their physics knowledge and skills every day, for example, in research and development. Others use the more general problem solving, programming and mathematical skills developed in the course in finance and management careers.
At the end of the degree, graduates should be equipped with the following skills that are valued in a wide range of occupations:
- the ability to determine what information is needed to solve a problem, and a knowledge of where to find or generate such information
- applicable mathematical and computational techniques and where to use them
- knowledge and understanding of fundamental physical laws and principles
- the ability to analyse data and evaluate the level of uncertainty in results
- skills to identify relevant principles and laws of physics when dealing with problems
- communication skills including the ability to present complex information clearly and concisely.
Graduates from the School of Physics and Astronomy have found employment in fields including:
- banking and commerce
- research and development in industry and in government agencies
- software development
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
What to do next
Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.
We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.
- +44 (0)1334 46 3111
- School of Physics and Astronomy
University of St Andrews
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