Frequently asked questions

Some frequently asked questions and their answers!

[The following answers apply to courses beginning September 2016.]

Q. What are your typical offers?

A. Our criteria for 2016 entry are available through our online prospectus Study with Us. Details of our 2017 entry criteria will be available shortly.


Q. How many new undergraduates do you take on each year?

A. About 110. We currently have over 350 Physics undergraduates taking BSc or MPhys degrees.


Q. Roughly how many people apply?

A. We receive over 500 UCAS applications each year (excluding Foundation Year).


Q. How many hours of lectures are there a week?

A. Each week is different. Your personal weekly timetable will change from week to week as the core lecture and laboratory modules progress, and it will depend on which options you are taking. Your personal weekly timetable will change from week to week as the core lecture and laboratory modules progress, and it will depend on which options you are taking.

Here are some typical figures of an average teaching week of the first year: 7 hours (core and options), Tutorials: 1 hour, Seminars/Problem Classes: 2 hours, Workshops: 4 hours, experimental & group project work: 6 hours. That makes a total of approx. 20 hours contact time. In addition, you will be expected to undertake approx. 15-20 private study time (that includes homework, background reading, exam revision, preparing reports and presentations, etc.)


Q. Will I be expected to buy lots of books for my course?

A. No. We get you off to a good start by supplying you with a comprehensive Physics textbook - this contains all the material you will need for your first year core physics modules. We also supply a Mathematics textbook that contains all the material for the first year maths modules (and some of the second year ones).

In the second year each core physics course has its own text book but we have been careful to choose books which are reasonably priced and good value. The University Library is well stocked with multiple copies of these books. For specialised option courses there is usually no compulsory textbook, instead there may be a range of recommended resources which will include online material as well as books.


Q. Are there any options in the first year?

A. Yes. Option courses will run through all years of your degree. Students can mix and match between option courses in each of the different 'flavours' of degree.


Q. Is there any project work in the first year?

A. Yes. You will begin with small group project work as early as the first term. By your final year, you will be involved in original research projects.


Q. What 3rd/4th year projects can I do?

A. We offer a wide range of projects, each led by members of the department in their particular research areas and current 'hot' topics. Take a look at the full list of last years projects.


Q. How long has the department been open?

A. The University was opened in 1921 and granted a Royal Charter in 1957. The Physics department has been in existence for over 50 years.


Q. What bursaries and other sources of funding are available?

A. Please take a look at the University information on fees and funding.


Q. What's the difference between the MPhys and the BSc?

A. An extra year! The BSc provides an excellent route to a wide range of careers in industry, commerce, finance, journalism and the public sector while the MPhys is designed for those wishing to train as professional physicists. It is possible to change between BSc and MPhys degrees while you are here.


Q. Do I have to be good at maths to do one of your degrees?

A. Our degrees are physics degrees, training physicists not mathematicians. However, physics is a mathematical subject, and to do well you do need to be comfortable with maths. Degree-level Physics involves a much higher level of mathematical content than Physics at school (e.g. A level or IB). This is why our entry requirements include mathematics qualifications.

But we do not expect students to begin with knowledge beyond that of e.g. A level mathematics. We will give you lots of help in understanding the maths you have done already and introducing you to the new mathematical techniques you will need for your physics.


Q. I haven't done any computer programming - is that a problem?

A. No. We will supply all the teaching and practice necessary to master the scientific computer programming you will need for your degree studies. We teach all our students the R and C programming languages with optional courses in C (more advanced) and Python. If you have done some programming before, you will pick things up that little bit quicker!


Q. Tell me more about the 'flavours' of degree?

A. Each of the degree flavours (space science and astrophysics) has been built on the basis of many years of world leading research in the department in these areas.


Q. I don't know which degree 'flavour' I'm most interested in. Can I mix and match courses from the different degrees?

A. Yes! All of the flavour degrees (space science and astrophysics) build on the same core physics modules and all are flexible. You can pick and choose option courses, and even projects, from different degree streams.


Q. Would I be able to study abroad?

A. Yes. You do not need to apply for this in advance. During your degree we will explain how you can apply to do this.

You can choose to spend your third year studying physics at one of our partner universities in Canada (McMaster University), Australia (La Trobe University, Melbourne) and the Netherlands (Groningen University). Please contact us at for more information.


Q. Will I be able to spend time in industry?

A. Yes. You do not need to apply for this in advance. During your degree we will explain how you apply to do this.

As part of your third year you can choose to work directly with one of our industrial partners on a ten week project. During these optional Group Industrial Research Projects (GrIPs) you will obtain an understanding of the needs of business through applied research into a relevant industrial problem. You will gain invaluable project, budget and team management experience in a workplace environment working on a real project that has real impact for the industrial clients.

Recent projects have covered the spectrum from investigating nuclear magnetic resonance signals in oil field boreholes for the industrial giants Weatherford International, to building a new beehive monitoring system for the Leicestershire Bee Keepers association.

You can also use vacation employment at an approved industrial post to count towards your degree or opt to spend your third year on an industrial placement. The careers tutor in the department will offer advice and assist you in finding a post.

Please contact us at if you would like to know more.


Q. Are there opportunities to work in schools as part of the degree course?

A. Yes.

During year three you can opt to gain first-hand experience of physics education through a mentoring scheme with physics teachers in local schools. If you take part in the Ambassador Scheme you will work with a class for half a day a week over one semester. You will have the opportunity to act as a positive role-model for young people interested in physics, as well as gaining experience in communicating the subject, and in organisational and interpersonal skills.


Q. What do Leicester graduates go on to do?

A. A variety of things. From academic research in Universities to posts with NASA or ESA. From high finance or management to physics based jobs with companies like Qinetiq, Astrium or AWE. Have a look at the profiles of some of our recent graduates.


Q. Do Leicester graduates find it easy to get a job?

A. Yes. Leicester physicists graduate with a set of skills that is very much in demand. The vast majority of our students are in graduate employment or further study (usually for a PhD) within 6 months of graduating. Take a look at a few of our graduates' profiles.


Q. How many postgraduate studentships do you get each year?

A. The department has very roughly 15 PhD places per year with many different projects in different research areas available. We also routinely obtain extra studentships through EU funding etc.


Q. What are the links between the University and the National Space Centre?

A. We have strong links with the NSC. A panel of our senior professors contribute to the NSC management, plus many of our current and ex students work there.


Q. What opportunities for summer employment are there in the department?

A. Every year, we offer a few SRC internships and paid placements within research groups to our students. The department also runs the SURE program open to any undergraduate physics student.


Q. What links do you have with industry?

A. Over the years we have developed many strong links to industry through collaborative research projects, consultancy work, or on the basis of Leicester graduates employed there. Some of the companies with strong links to Leicester are: Airbus: defence and space, TDK, Weatherford International, Lockheed Martin UK, Oxford instruments, Jorin Ltd, SciSys and many more.

We are currently offering optional 10 week third year research projects in which students will work directly with one of our industrial partners on real world problems.


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Contact Details

Tel.: +44 (0)116 252 3506
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 2770

Department of Physics & Astronomy,
University of Leicester,
University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH,
United Kingdom.


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