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Theoretical Physics BSc

(Full time) 2017 start

Theoretical Physics BSc

This degree programme provides students with excellence in teaching and learning opportunities in an internationally competitive research environment.

You will graduate with a full understanding of the theoretical basis of modern Physics upon completion of the programme, along with key transferable skills to further your career. Lectures, workshops and tutorials combine to give a stimulating and challenging course, covering all core aspects of modern Physics along with additional advanced Maths courses offered by the School of Mathematics. Throughout, you will demonstrate your grasp of how modern mathematical methods are applied to advanced topics in Theoretical Physics. Options for either Industrial Placement or Study Abroad are available.

Your final-year, independent theoretical research project will give you an understanding of the scientific research process and the skills needed to be a research scientist.

This course is professionally accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Enhancing your degree

It is possible to transfer to the four-year Integrated Masters (MPhys, BSc) from the three-year Bachelor’s (BSc) degree up until the end of year 2, subject to suitable academic performance at that stage.

This course is also available with either the Industrial Placement or the Study Abroad scheme. Both options are by application near the beginning of year 2, and are subject to academic selection. Both schemes add one year to the length of the BSc degree, so the complete degree is 4 years.

Dr Robert Purdy is the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the course and Sarah Gardner is the Undergraduate Admissions Officer.


This course is professionally accredited by the Institute of Physics.

You will start the course by gaining a solid grounding in all aspects of physics and mathematics covering a broad range of topics. Core subjects of the programme include quantum theory and quantum field theory, special and general relativity, nuclear and particle physics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, real and complex analysis, vector calculus and differential equations. You have options that allow you to explore your own interests, but also take some courses in common with students on other physics and mathematical degree programmes. We also expect you to gain an understanding of basic laboratory skills in year one, so that you can gain a better sense of how experiment and theory work together in physics.

Specialist topics, from photonics through to the philosophy of modern physics, are drawn from the research interests of the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics, and Philosophy. In your final year, you will choose advanced options from a wide range of modules in both physics and mathematics. In addition, 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 leading-edge topics such as string theory or quantum computing. The research project is 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 will 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 skill set 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

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

We use 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.

Formal examinations account for between 60-100% of the marks which determine the final degree classification, the rest coming mainly from practical work with contributions from oral presentations, essays and tutorial work. Some later year modules are self-contained and are fully assessed in-course.

Laboratory classes are seen as an integral part of our teaching throughout your time at Leeds. They provide you with the opportunity to develop your verbal and written communication skills through performing experiments individually or as part of a group, undertake completion of a short course on data analysis and statistics and learn how to conduct practical experiments in preparation for your final year Research Project.

When you arrive in the department you will be assigned a Personal Tutor. In the first year, he or she acts also as your Academic Tutor and will arrange weekly small-group tutorials, where problems set by the tutor are discussed, along with other aspects of physics and university life. Your Personal Tutor is there to offer advice, to monitor your progress, and to be your first point of contact during your undergraduate years. Group tutorials are held in the second and third years, in which a combination of examination style questions and more wide ranging applications of physics are explored.

There are various facilities to support you with your studies including extensive computer clusters and virtually universal wireless connectivity. 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.


Just as we use a variety of teaching methods we also use a range of assessment types to encourage students to show us their talent.

To encourage you to learn your physics and maths, as the modules are being taught, all core modules have a component of continually-assessed work which makes up 15% of the final mark. The other 85% comes from the examination. We also assess through written reports, presentations and oral discussions throughout the programme, which builds up your skills in these areas.

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

Entry requirements

A level: AAB 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: 5 required, including English, each with a minimum of grade C.

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: £19,750 (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 may 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

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.

This degree will provide you with the skills you need to become highly employable and fulfil your career ambitions, including problem solving, numeracy and analysis skills, as well as a range of transferable skills including teamwork, listening and verbal and written communication.

About 30% of our graduates continue onto a PhD or other postgraduate qualification. The others find employment in a wide variety of companies, including in the Engineering, IT and Financial sectors, largely in roles where their numeracy and analytical skills are valued.

Read our alumni profiles to hear about some of our School of Physics and Astronomy graduates’ career journeys.

Careers support

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

You can get some great work experience which can be featured on your CV through the School of Physics and Astronomy industrial placement scheme or by securing a part-time job through the Student Union's Joblink. You could also look at the volunteering opportunities available through the Student Union which will help you in your personal development.

All of these opportunities can really help you stand out from the crowd.

We teach problem-solving and high level thinking at all stages of your degree. We offer modules which give students an insight into industrial new product development, from concept to market, in the chemical and allied industries, and which lead students through the various stages of setting up a new social enterprise, from the inception and development of the idea itself, through preparation of a business plan to preparing a funding proposal for potential investors/grant awarding body.

The modular nature of our degree programmes provide you with opportunities to develop the core subject knowledge and skills that you need to progress a career in a chosen area. Whilst our Industrial Placement scheme helps you gain vital experience and build confidence.

It also means that our degrees meet exacting quality standards and that their content is approved by one of the foremost scientific bodies in the world to ensure you are taught material of the highest standard.

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, as part of an integrated year of your course. The University has partnerships with many universities worldwide and popular destinations for our students include North America, Australasia, Asia and Europe.

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

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 an elective placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors, in the UK or overseas.

As part of our Student Education Service we have members of staff who will provide support and assistance to students to help them find appropriate work placements. Find more about work experience on the Careers website.

Key facts

UCAS code:

3 years full time

Typical A level offer:
(specific subjects required)

UK/EU fees:
See fees section below
International fees:
£19,750 (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

Lucy Curtis

BSc Physics

"The tutors are great, really helpful with open door policies so they can be there whenever you need any academic help."