Physical sciences

Top universities where you can study physics & astronomy

Physics is the study of the universe; focusing on the nature and properties of matter and energy. Physics includes astronomy; one of the oldest sciences, however studying these two as a joint honours degree is perfect for any student want a deeper understanding the physical universe – it is essentially a physics degree for stargazers and both address the fundamental questions about the universe. Both are experimental natural sciences, so you will employ scientific methods to formulate and test hypotheses that are based on what we can observe in the natural world.

The degree will cover all the core elements of traditional physics, such as particle physics, atoms and molecules, quantum mechanics and astrophysics, as well as cosmology, planetary geology and astrobiology. The course will typically last three years and after the early years of mastering the key concepts, you can tailor the programme of study to your interests. Both disciplines are an intellectual challenge and will require a strong mathematical ability.

Your theoretical understanding will be refined through practical lab sessions, lectures and seminars, and you will complete a substantial research project in the final year. You will be accessed using reports, written or oral presentations, lab observations, literature reviews and written exams. 

Physicists are in demand in almost every industry, due to their wide range of practical skills and ability to grasp complex theories. Many graduates will pursue postgraduate degrees to become researchers or professional astrologers or scientists, for example as an aerospace engineer, geophysicist, mechanical engineer or observational astrophysicist. Other more general skills like numeracy and computer literacy are incredibly useful in industries like consulting and accountancy, or in managerial and administrative positions. 

Other subjects within the discipline of physical sciences
Why study a physics degree? Our essential guide to what you will learn on a physics course, what you should study to get your place on a degree, and what jobs you can get once you graduate
5 December