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Department of Physics

Career Options and Employability

Durham University is highly regarded by employers and has an excellent graduate employment record with over 95% of students finding employment or entering further training within six months of graduation. The University is regularly among the country's top performers in graduate employment.

We seek to develop the practical and intellectual skills sought by employers, and offer preparation for a range of careers, while at the same time maintaining a high level of academic content. Our courses aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Physics. Apart from familiarity with key theoretical concepts, experimental methods and technology, you will gain training in problem solving, communication skills, group working, interpreting numerical data, experimental design and project work. This range of skills will provide you with excellent all-round training for many future careers. Our graduates enter a wide variety of careers in business, industry, commerce, research, management, education, and typically over a fifth of our graduates go on to study for higher degrees.

Of those students who left in 2016:

  • 85% are in employment or further study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

  • 97% of those are in graduate level employment
  • Median salary £26,766

(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2015/16 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found

“As a Durham graduate now working in the field of Human Resources for Rolls Royce, there are certain things we look for in our graduates: influence, judgement, integrity, leadership, breadth of knowledge and teamwork to name but a few. We consistently recruit high calibre graduates from Durham University who demonstrate these competencies and are a true asset to our organisation.”

Alice Taylor, HR Business Partner, Rolls Royce Canada

Employment development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works extremely closely with the Physics Department to ensure that current students receive information and details of vacancies relevant to their needs. Innovative talks take place by a Careers Adviser to ensure that the students receive the most relevant and up-to-date advice about professions that Physics students are attracted to.

A wide range of work is carried out in conjunction with the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre to develop our students' employability skills including presentations on scientific CV preparation, interview preparation for scientific and non-scientific employers and those considering PhD study. A wide range of recruiters of Durham physics graduates are present at the annual Science, I.T. and Engineering Fair (DETICA, DSTL, BAE Systems, The Thales Group, Sage UK Ltd, Lloyds Register).   

Vacation placements

Each year Durham University is awarded a number of bursaries for students interested in working on research projects as vacation placements. Full details of these and other work placement opportunities are listed in the Physics web pages.

Professional endorsement and recognition

The Institute of Physics is the professional body addressing the needs and interests of physicists in the U.K. All students registered for Single Honours Physics, Physics and Astronomy, and Theoretical Physics degrees are entitled to free electronic membership of the Institute. Benefits include electronic access to a monthly magazine, Physics World, dealing with issues and topical articles in the world of physics. Nexus is the student wing of the Institute of Physics and runs additional events, just for students, such as careers evenings, CERN trips and the Young Physicists Conference.

All of the Department's Single Honours degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics. In addition, the M.Sci. Joint Honours degrees in Mathematics and Physics and in Chemistry and Physics are also currently accredited. Holders of accredited degrees are eligible to follow a route to corporate membership of the Institute and to the C.Phys. professional qualification. Degrees which are successfully accredited are listed in the Register of Accredited Courses which is available in the public domain.

Further information on the Institute of Physics, including full details of the benefits of membership, can be found at

What our students say...

To read comments and first-hand accounts of student life at Durham from Physics graduates visit