Students with the University of Sheffield's rooftop telescopes

Physics with Philosophy MPhys

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Department of Philosophy

Apply for this course

You are viewing this course for 2021-2022 entry.

Key details

Course description

This combination of subjects produces well-rounded graduates: scientists who understand the philosophical problems raised by scientific concepts.

The science half of the course covers the whole spectrum of modern physics. It will also help you develop the skills and the personal qualities physicists rely on. The philosophy part of the course is unusually flexible. There are no compulsory modules.

You can develop your understanding of key areas of philosophy such as ethics, philosophy of mind, theory of knowledge, political philosophy, metaphysics and logic. We also teach courses on major figures in the history of philosophy, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Hegel.

There are opportunities to specialise in various physics topics. In the fourth year, you'll work on your choice of research project, often working alongside a world-class research group.

Dual and combined honours degrees

Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.

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 Philosophy MPhys course structure
UCAS code: F3V5
Years: 2021

Core modules:

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
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
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

Optional modules:

Matters of Life and Death

What is so bad about death? Is life always a good? Is it always wrong for someone to take their own life? Would it be wrong to help someone die painlessly who was already dying of a painful illness? Is abortion ever, or always, morally permissible? Do animals have rights which we infringe by killing them or making them suffer? What, if anything, do we owe to the starving of the world? How, if at all, is killing in war-time morally different from other forms of killing? This course is designed to encourage students to think carefully and constructively about a range of life-and-death moral dilemmas, developing skills of analysis and critical reasoning. Topics discussed will include: death; suicide; euthanasia; abortion; animals; famine relief; and war. Arguments for and against various positions on these questions will be looked at; and some use will be made of moral theory to illuminate the issues.

20 credits
Mind, Brain and Personal Identity

This module provides an initial survey of a cluster of interrelated philosophical problems concerning the mind, free will, God, and the nature of persons. We will discuss questions like: What kind of thing is the mind? Is it a non-physical thing, like a soul? Or is it nothing over and above the brain? What is free will? Are we free? Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? What is a person? Do non-human animals have minds? Could they be persons? Could machines have minds or be persons?

20 credits
Self and Society

The aim of this module is to introduce students to philosophical problems in social science about the nature of the individual person, and the relation between individuals and society. We shall be discussing how the identity of an individual is constituted, and whether this identity is determined socially or otherwise. We shall also be discussing what a genuinely liberal state might be like, and whether we can argue for the desirability of such a state from the nature and needs of the individual.

20 credits
Writing Philosophy

Philosophical writing is a skill that you, the student, must hone early on in order to succeed in your degree. It is also a transferable skill that will serve you in your post-academic career. Philosophical writing combines the general virtues of clarity, organisation, focus and style found in other academic writing with particular philosophical virtues, namely, the ability to expose the implicit assumptions of analysed texts and to make explicit the logical structure of one's own and other people's arguments. A precondition of philosophical writing is a unique form of textual analysis that pays particular attention to its argumentative structure. In this module you will learn and practice philosophical writing. You will learn how to read in preparation for philosophical writing, learn how to plan an essay, learn how to rework your drafts and learn how to use feedback constructively. You will write fie drafts and five essays and will have one on on tutorial on each essay you write. The lectures in the course will be split between lectures of the art of writing and lectures on philosophical topics in the domain of fact and value. Essay topics will be based on the topical lectures and their associated readings

20 credits
Death

This module is mainly about death itself [whereas PHI125 is mainly about killing}. What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.

10 credits
Elementary Logic

The course will provide students with a theoretical knowledge of the fundamental parts of formal logic. It will also teach them a range of associated formal techniques with which they can then analyse and assess arguments. In particular, they will learn the languages of propositional and first-order logic, and they will learn how to use those languages in providing formal representations of everyday claims. They will also learn how to use truth-tables. Finally, students will learn how to prove things using that language.

10 credits
History of Ethics

This unit offers a critical introduction to the history of ethical thought in the West, examining some of the key ideas of e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It thus provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory; the ethics of flourishing and virtue; deontology; utilitarianism; contractualism. The close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics) will be highlighted, as will the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology). Our main text will be Singer, P. (ed), 1994, Ethics, Oxford University Press.

10 credits
Knowledge, Justification and Doubt

In our age of post-truth politics and fake news, this course aims to introduce students to philosophy by investigating some basic problems in epistemology (i.e. the philosophical study of knowledge). We will address questions such as: what knowledge is and why it is important; what truth is; what kinds of things can be known and how; if and how perceptual experience gives us knowledge of an ¿external¿ world; whether all knowledge has to be grounded in experience; whether knowledge is socially constructed (and if so whether that is necessarily problematic); what role justice plays in our epistemic practices.

10 credits
Philosophy of Religion

There are two large questions typically considered by philosophers of religion. First, is there any good reason to believe that God exists? Second, are there reasons to think that the concept of God makes no sense? In this course we consider both questions. For the first question we look at two standard arguments for the existence of God: the Argument from Design and the First Cause Argument. As regards the second question, we consider the Problem of Evil: whether the existence of God, as generally conceived, is consistent with the existence of evil.

10 credits
Philosophy of Science

The aim of this half-module is to introduce some of the philosophical issues that arise in science and through reflecting on science. Most of the questions considered concern the epistemology of scientific knowledge: how we should represent scientific theories, what counts as evidence for these theories, how scientific explanations work, and how far we can treat science as revealing to us the truth about the underlying nature of reality. This course aims to introduce these questions as philosophical issues in their own right and within in the context of the history of the philosophy of science.

10 credits
Philosophy of Sex

Sex is one of the most basic human motivators, of fundamental importance in many people's lives, and a topic of enormous moral, religious, and political contention. No surprise, then, that it turns out to be of great philosophical interest. We will discuss moral issues related to sex' asking when we might be right to judge a particular sex act to be morally problematic; and what political significance (if any) sex has. We will also discuss metaphysical issues, such as the surprisingly difficult questions of what exactly sex is and what a sexual orientation is. Throughout our study, we will draw both on philosophical sources and on up-to-date contemporary information.

10 credits
Reason and Argument

Arguments are everywhere - in our newspapers, on our television screens and radios, in books and academic papers, on blogs and other websites. We argue with our friends, families, teachers and taxi drivers. These arguments are often important ¿ they help us to decide what to do, what to believe, whom to vote for, what car to buy, what career path to follow, or where we should attend university (and what we should study). The ability to recognise, evaluate and produce arguments is therefore immeasurably valuable in every aspect of life.This course will teach you how to recognise an argument, how to understand it, how to evaluate and criticise it, and how to produce your own. Students in this module will learn how to extract an argument from a complex text, how to uncover hidden assumptions, and how to recognise and critique bad reasoning

10 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.

Learning and assessment

Learning

You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials and seminars, 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

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:
ABB
including 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 33 with 5 in Higher Level Maths and Physics

BTEC | Not accepted Not accepted

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

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

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in Science with Distinctions in 36 Level 3 credits (all in Mathematics and Physics), and Merits in 9 level 3 credits 60 credits overall in Science with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits (all in Mathematics and Physics), and Merits in 15 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
  • Students 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

Is time travel possible?

Are there habitable planets in other star systems?

Can we make a quantum computer?

Our courses explore the laws of the universe from subatomic particles to stars and galaxies. You'll join a community of researchers and students looking for answers to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

All our undergraduates get hands-on experience working alongside staff on real research projects. We host numerous general and specialist seminars by physicists from around the world.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is based in the Hicks Building, which is next door to the Students' Union, and just down the road from the library facilities at the Information Commons and the Diamond. The School of Mathematics and Statistics is also based here.

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

Department of Philosophy

We pride ourselves on the diversity of our modules and the high quality of our teaching. Our staff are among the best in the world at what they do. They're active researchers so your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting. We'll teach you how to think carefully, analytically and creatively.

Our staff and students use philosophy to engage with real world issues. You will be able to use what you learn to make a difference in the community, through projects like Philosophy in the City, an innovative and award-winning programme that enables students to teach philosophy in schools, homeless shelters and centres for the elderly.

Our students run a thriving Philosophy Society and the only UK undergraduate philosophy journal. Our Centre for Engaged Philosophy pursues research into questions of fundamental political and social importance, from criminal justice and social inclusion to climate ethics, all topics that are covered in our teaching.

Philosophy changes our perspective on the world, and equips and motivates us to make a difference.

The Department of Philosophy is based at 45 Victoria Street at the heart of the University campus. We're close to the Diamond and the Information Commons, as well as Jessop West, which houses our fellow Arts & Humanities departments of History, English and Languages & Cultures.

Department of Philosophy

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

  No 1 in the north for graduate employment
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020


Department of Physics and Astronomy

Top ten in the UK for research output

Research Excellence Framework 2014

Russell Group top five for overall satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019


Department of Philosophy

96% overall student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019

3rd in the Russell Group for student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019


Graduate careers

Department of Physics and Astronomy

They are making an impact in many areas of society. Some are following careers in aerospace, telecommunications, teaching, defence and energy research. Others are achieving success in computing, accountancy and consultancy.

Organisations employing our graduates include Ernst & Young, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Toshiba, Museum of Science and Industry, Thales and the Home Office. Many of our graduates continue to PhD research and become research scientists in academia or industry.

Department of Philosophy

Studying philosophy will develop your ability to analyse and state a case clearly, evaluate arguments and be precise in your thinking. These skills will put you in a strong position when it comes to finding employment or going on to further study.

Our graduates work in teaching, law, social work, computing, the civil service, journalism, paid charity work, business, insurance and accountancy. Many also go on to study philosophy at postgraduate level.

Alex Barrows

The most fundamental skill I gained from my degree is how to approach an unfamiliar problem

Dr Alex Barrows MPhys Physics

After his undergraduate degree, which included an internship at BP, Alex did a PhD in our department and is now a research analyst in the photovoltaic industry.

Further information

MPhys or BSc?

Our BSc courses focus on core knowledge and skills. The MPhys courses have an additional element of research work experience and more opportunity to study topics in greater depth. If you plan to follow a career as a research scientist, an MPhys degree would be most appropriate.

A built-in insurance offer

If you firmly accept as your first choice an offer for our MPhys courses, but your A Level grades are AAB, you're guaranteed a place on the BSc.

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.

Additional funding

Department of Physics and Astronomy scholarships

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.

Our student protection plan

Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

Explore this course:

    2021-2022