A student in a particle physics laboratory

Physics with Particle Physics MPhys

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Apply for this course

You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry. 2022-23 entry is also available.

Key details

Course description

We took a group of our students to the CERN research facility in Switzerland, where many of our particle physics researchers are working on projects including the ATLAS collaboration that was behind the Higgs boson discovery.

This course is a great opportunity for students who want to become a physics researcher and play a part in answering some of the biggest questions in the universe. You can learn from scientists who helped detect the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, and who are leading innovative neutrino experiments and searches for dark matter. You’ll learn how particles are detected and study key theories such as relativity. In your final year, you'll join a team of researchers who have been part of some of the most important recent discoveries in science.

At the start of your course, you'll cover the essential physics behind everything else you'll study: heat, motion, electricity, magnetism and quantum mechanics. Lectures and lab classes are included in the same modules, so you won’t be learning about abstract topics in isolation. You'll run experiments using the equipment in our modern laboratories to help you understand how important theories apply to the real world.

You'll explore essential physics in even more depth in second year. You will also start to specialise in particle physics, with modules on the detection of fundamental particles and special relativity, which is essential for understanding particles that travel close to the speed of light and E = mc2. Programming classes will teach you skills that are essential for particle physics and many other graduate careers.

In third year, you can branch out into lots of different areas and complete your own research project in particle physics. Your core modules will cover topics like nuclear physics and dark matter. Optional modules include cosmology and mathematical physics.

A variety of optional modules are also available in fourth year, when you'll be working on a major research project. You’ll choose a research topic in particle physics and work closely with a member of academic staff who is an expert in the area you want to explore. The project takes up around half of your final year and can lead to a publication in a scientific journal.

Modules

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

Title: Physics with Particle Physics MPhys - course structure
UCAS code: F373
Years: 2021

Core modules:

Motion and Heat

This module introduces and applies the key concepts of motion and heat: force, equations of motion, phase space, determinism and free will, symmetry and conservation laws, waves and oscillations, coherence and classical frequency-time uncertainty, the laws of thermodynamics, thermal equilibrium, entropy and the arrow of time. You will learn how physics problems relate to these fundamental concepts, and how those concepts are used to construct solutions. You will apply the key concepts to design experiments to test scientific hypotheses. You will develop your data analysis and communication skills and to use different sources of information in your learning. You will work independently and as part of a group, developing a wide variety of study skills that will prepare you for the rest of your degree programme.

25 credits
Fields and Quanta

This module introduces the key concepts of fields and quanta: electric and magnetic fields, the behaviour of electric charges and currents, vectors and densities, potentials, quantum states and their evolution, the probabilistic nature of fundamental physical law, and the breakdown of classical physics. This module will teach you how physics problems relate to these fundamental concepts, and how those concepts are used to construct solutions.

25 credits
Mathematics for Physicists and Astronomers

This module provides the necessary level 1 mathematics for students taking physics and/or astronomy degrees. The following topics will be covered: basic algebra (functions, coordinate systems, algebraic manipulation etc), Taylor and binomial series, common functions of one variable, differentiation and integration techniques, basic complex numbers, first and second order differential equations, vector calculus, properties and applications of matrices and elementary probability theory.

30 credits
Frontiers of Physics

This pair of 10-credit modules aims to introduce research-inspired material into the level 1 physics curriculum. Each module includes three short courses on research-based topics taught by an academic who is actively involved in the research. The individual courses will be regularly reviewed to ensure that the material is up to date and includes current areas of investigation. The module aims to show that cutting-edge physics research is often underpinned by basic concepts covered in A level and 1st year physics courses.

10 credits

Optional modules – two or three from:

Introduction to Astrophysics

One of four half-modules forming the Level-1 Astronomy course, PHY104 aims to equip students with a basic understanding of the important physical concepts and techniques involved in astronomy with an emphasis on how fundamental results can be derived from fairly simple observations. The module consists of three sections: (i) Basic Concepts, Fluxes, Temperatures and Magnitudes; (ii) Astronomical Spectroscopy; (iii) Gravitational Astrophysics. Parts (i), (ii) and (iii) each comprise some six lectures. The lectures are supported by problems classes, in which you will learn to apply lecture material to the solution of numerical problems.

10 credits
The Solar System

One of the four half-modules forming the Level 1 astronomy course, but may also be taken as a stand-alone module. PHY106 covers the elements of the Solar System: the Sun, planets, moons and minor bodies. What are their structures and compositions, and what dothey tell us about the formation and history of the Solar System?

10 credits
Our Evolving Universe

The course provides a general overview of astronomy suitable for those with no previous experience of the subject. The principal topics covered are (1) how we deduce useful physical parameters from observed quantities, (2) the structure and evolution of stars, (3) the structure of the Milky Way, and the classification, structure and evolution of galaxies in general, (4) an introduction to cosmology and (5) extrasolar plantets and an introduction to astrobiology. All topics are treated in a descriptive manner with minimal mathematics.

10 credits
The Physics of Sustainable Energy

The module will cover the physics of sustainable energy. It includes discussions framed by the book `Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air' by D MacKay and will cover current energy requirements and what energy could potentially be provided by the various forms of renewable energy. The course will commence with a discussion of the basic physics of energy, power and work and the conversion of energy from one form to another. We examine in detail the history of global energy useage and how we produce and use energy in the UK. We will then explore the impacts that this energy use has on the biosphere and climate and the public perception of such processes. The course will then focus on the energy contenet of objects and processes we take for granted and will then move on to means by which we can produce energy using renewable technologies, such as wind, wave, solar, biofuels etc. We will also examine nuclear (fusion and fission) energy and will discuss their principles and practical implementation. Finally, we will consider solutions to our energy needs, including transportation, energy conservation, carbon capture and geoengineering.

10 credits
Physics of Living Systems 2

The aim is to introduce biomechanical descriptions of the human body. We look at its structure and its performance as a physical machine. The structural characteristics of human bones and tissue are investigated, together with the mechanical functions of the skeleton and musculature. Simple fluid dynamic characteristics of the body are introduced, including descriptions of blood-flow in the arteries and veins and air-flow in the lungs.

10 credits
Introduction to Electric and Electronic Circuits

This module introduces the concepts and analytical tools for predicting the behaviour of combinations of passive circuit elements, resistance, capacitance and inductance driven by ideal voltage and/or current sources which may be ac or dc sources. The ideas involved are important not only from the point of view of modelling real electronic circuits but also because many complicated processes in biology, medicine and mechanical engineering are themselves modelled by electric circuits. The passive ideas are extended to active electronic components; diodes, transistors and operational amplifiers and the circuits in which these devices are used. Transformers, magnetics and dc motors are also covered.

20 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Learning and assessment

Learning

You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials, programming classes, practical sessions in the lab and research projects.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

Assessment

You'll be assessed through a portfolio of problem sets, lab work and other material, as well as exams, essays, lab reports and presentations. Your final year project includes an assessed literature review, project plan and final report.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
AAA
including Maths and Physics

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
AAB
including AA in Maths and Physics

A Levels + additional qualifications | AAB, including AA in Maths and Physics + A in a relevant EPQ AAB, including AA in Maths and Physics + A in a relevant EPQ

International Baccalaureate | 36, 6 in Higher Level Maths and Physics 34 with 6,5 in Higher Level Maths and Phyiscs

BTEC | Not accepted Not accepted

Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers | AAAAB + AA in Maths and Physics AAABB + AB in Maths and Physics

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | A + AA in Maths and Physics B + AA in Maths and Physics

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in Science with Distinctions in 39 Level 3 credits (all in Maths and Physics) and Merits in 6 level 3 credits 60 credits overall in Science with Distinctions in 36 Level 3 credits (all in Mathematics and Physics), and Merits in 9 level 3 credits

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other requirements
  • You must have passed the practical element of any science A Level taken

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

2D materials laboratory

Scientists in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are working on topics such as how to build a quantum computer, the search for dark matter and ways to combat antimicrobial resistance. They run experiments on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and help to map the universe using the Hubble Space Telescope. They’ll guide you through the key topics in physics and give you a huge range of optional modules to choose from. 

The department is based in the Hicks Building, which has recently refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories with all the equipment you need for your physics and astronomy training, as well as classrooms, lecture theatres, computer rooms and social spaces for our students.

There are also telescopes and a solar technology testbed on the roof, state-of-the-art laboratories for building super-resolution microscopes and analysing 2D materials, and the UK’s first Quantum Information Laboratory, where students can study the fundamental science behind the next technological revolution. It’s right next door to the Students' Union, and just down the road from the 24/7 library facilities at the Information Commons and the Diamond.

Facilities

Our students are trained in newly refurbished teaching laboratories and can access a range of specialist technologies, from the telescopes on our roof to our state-of-the-art Quantum Information Laboratory.

In their final year, MPhys students are based in a specialist research laboratory where scientists are studying technologies such as 2D materials, photovoltaic devices and advanced microscopy tools.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017


Department of Physics and Astronomy

Top ten in the UK for research output

Research Excellence Framework 2014


Student profiles

Graduate careers

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Our physics students develop numerical, problem solving and data analysis skills that are useful in many graduate jobs, including computer programming, software engineering, data science, and research and development into new products and services. Their expertise can be applied to many of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, from developing renewable energy technologies and improving medical treatments to creating quantum telecommunications systems and exploring outer space.

Students who want to work as a physics researcher often do a PhD, which can lead to a career at a top university or a major international research facility such as CERN.

The University of Sheffield is part of the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy. This partnership of university physics departments and technical industries can set up collaborations between our students and industrial partners through internships, year in industry placements, final year projects and careers activities. WRIPA also organises the UK’s largest physics recruitment fair, where our students can meet potential employers.

Josh McFayden

A project on the Higgs boson sparked my interest in the Large Hadron Collider

Josh McFayden MPhys Physics with Mathematics

After completing his degree in our department, Joshua has gone on to work on the ATLAS experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Thomas Nuttall

The programming courses were particularly useful for me

Thomas Nuttall BSc Physics

Thomas’ job as a Data Scientist at Channel 4 sees him use the software development and computational statistics skills he learned during his BSc in Physics to improve the digital products that the channel can offer, as well as making sure that their online service can recommend the right programmes for you.

Fees and funding

Fees

Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

Apply for this course

Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
www.ucas.com

The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

Our student protection plan

Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

Explore this course:

    2021-2022