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Durham University

Department of Physics


Our course structures have been designed to provide flexibility in your final choice of degree programme. If you are mainly interested in a degree in Physics as a preparation for another career you may wish to choose the BSc degree. If you are looking for a professional training which leads to research in Physics or a Physics-related career, we recommend the MPhys degree. The first year of the BSc and MPhys degree courses in Physics, Physics and Astronomy, and Theoretical Physics is identical, and it is possible to select modules in your second year such that you need not make a firm choice of course until the end of the second year. It is not possible to convert a BSc to an MPhys simply by adding an extra year.

If you choose the three-year programme your degree honours classification is based on your second and third year work; the weighting between years used for calculating your final mark will be 2:3. For the MPhys programme your degree class is based on the work done in the second, third and fourth years, with a weighting between years of 2:3:4. In year 4, half the mark comes from an advanced research project which can be experimental, computational or theoretical and is written up as an MPhys thesis. The MPhys Projects vary from year to year, but recent titles have included "Measuring the scale of Baryon wiggles", "Pushing the limits of nanoscale lithography" and "How to blow up a nuclear bomb". A complete list of the titles available to students this academic year is available here. Recent third-year Laboratory Project topics have included "Computer Generated Holography", "Muon Telescope" and "Heat Capacity of Ferromagnets and Superconductors". We have four modern computer-controlled telescopes that are used for observational astronomy project work in the third year.

In addition Physics modules may be taken as components of the degree in Natural Sciences. This includes four-year MSci courses in either Biology & Physics, Mathematics & Physics or Chemistry & Physics, as well as three-year BSc and four-year MSci courses that allow Physics to be combined with a wide variety of other subjects.

The experience of having lived independently abroad can be very rewarding in terms of employability and of personal development. For this reason, students are encouraged to apply during their degree for a year-long placement with one of the Physics Department's or the University's international partners, either in replacement of the third year of study within an MPhys degree or as an additional year of study. The Department has partnerships with a number of institutions on the continent, and the University has further institutional links with universities in North America, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. Students may study in English at some of these destinations, whereas for others foreign language skills are essential. Students are fully supported by the Department both during the application process and during the year abroad.

Adding a year-long international placement to a Physics degree leads to the degree of BSc Physics with Year Abroad or of MPhys Physics with Year Abroad. Admission to these degrees is through transfer from F300, F301, FF3N or F344 after Year 1.

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