Theoretical Physics


UCAS Code: F344
Typical offer:
Three years

Average weekly contact time

First year: 16 hours
Second year: 18 hours
Third year: 12 hours
Fourth year: 9 hours

Study the conceptual and mathematical basis of modern physics

Do more of your own research with the four year MPhys course

Get an extra year of research experience and study overseas


UCAS Code: F321
Typical offer:
Four years

With Study Abroad

UCAS Code: F304
Typical offer:
Four years

How to apply for this course

About the course

In theoretical physics, we study the conceptual and mathematical structure of the theories that describe nature. It aims to advance our knowledge by constructing theories to explain natural phenomena and proposing experiments that our colleagues can perform in the lab. You can do this course as a standard three year BSc or a four year MPhys where you'll do more research.

The theoretical physicists who'll teach you specialise in a wide variety of topics:

  • Professor Nigel Clarke researches the behaviour of polymers and gels
  • Dr Simon Goodwin is a researcher in astrophysics, and studies how stars form in groups
  • Dr Rhoda Hawkins does research in biophysics, and specialises in the way cells move
  • Dr Pieter Kok studies quantum information theory, and how to build a quantum computer
  • Professor Leszek Roskowski is a researcher in dark matter and particle physics
  • Professor David Whittaker studies exotic quantum states of light.

We also work closely with Professor Carsten van de Bruck and Professor Elizabeth Winstanley in the School of Mathematics, who study cosmology and black holes: Theoretical Physics Research Group

You'll get lots of opportunities to put your scientific knowledge in to practice. We run field trips to Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in the Canary Islands, the underground dark matter laboratory at Boulby Mine and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. You can also do a research placement in the department to build up your practical skills and add to your CV.

Our students have an excellent employability record in a wide range of graduate careers. Many enter science-related industries such as working for renewable energy, nanotechnology, space exploration industries and telecommunications companies. Others go into non-science graduate careers, using the graduate level skills they gained from their degree. Many choose further study, doing masters and PhDs in the UK and abroad, and teaching.

Year abroad

On the Theoretical Physics with Study Abroad course, you will spend your third year in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. In all cases, you'll take classes at a similar level to the ones we run in Sheffield. The Study Abroad webpages have a full list of universities you may be able to go to. Below, is a list of universities our students have gone to in the past.

Meet some of our Study Abroad students





These are the current undergraduate modules for this course. As we want to keep our degrees as up-to-date as possible, the modules available when you start your degree might be different.

First year

Core modules:

Options include:

Second year

Core modules:

Options include:

Third year (except Study Abroad)

Core modules:

Options include:

Fourth year (MPhys only)

Core modules:

Options include:

Foundation Year

We offer a Physics Foundation Year for students with A level qualifications, or equivalent, in at least one the following subjects: Maths, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. The Science and Engineering Foundation Year programme is made up of taught modules in physics, mathematics and chemistry taught by academic staff in those departments, plus laboratory and transferable skills taught by staff in the Faculty of Engineering. On successful completion of the Foundation Year students can enter the first year of one of our undergraduate degree programmes.

UCAS code: F309
Typical offer: BBB
Length: Four or five years, depending on final degree course chosen

"Finishing the Foundation Year with good grades gives you the confidence to see that you really can tackle a degree in science or engineering."

– Rose Ireland, BSc Physics

Find out more about the Science and Engineering Foundation Year programme

Science and Engineering Foundation Year: Science degree pathway

Open University OpenPlus entry

The University of Sheffield and the Open University have created a flexible way for UK students to study physics. You can spend two years studying in your own time with the Open University, allowing you to combine work with your studies.

If you complete this successfully, you can transfer directly onto the second year of our full-time BSc Physics, or Physics and Philosophy course.

Find out more

Other Physics and Astronomy courses: Physics | Physics and Philosophy | Physics and Astrophysics | Chemical Physics | Physics with Computer Science | Physics with Medical Physics