BSc (Hons) Physics


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  • Scotland (Widening Access Places only)
  • England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
  • International

The course

UCAS code
4 years
Delivery type

Heriot-Watt University ranked 1st in the UK for physics in the National Student Survey 2020 (Overall Student Satisfaction) and 5th in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. BSc Physics is accredited by the Institute of Physics.


Got questions about this programme?

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This physics degree covers subjects including dynamics, electromagnetism, photonics and optics and astrophysics. These areas lead onto the quantum world of subatomic particles, the fascinating nature of light and the challenging but wonderful fields of quantum physics and relativity. Mathematics and practical work play an important part throughout the course, and specialist courses provided a background in physical maths and lab skills for physics applications. In later years, the course offers more specialist topics, including laser physics, solid state physics, optoelectronic devices, nuclear physics and biophysics. 

In Year 4, individual research projects in world leading research groups allow you to develop skills in advanced experimental design, modelling and computation. Throughout, the programme will also help with your practical abilities, initiative and teamwork. The Physics degree provides broad and comprehensive training in all aspects of physics and modern science, and is well suited to both non-academic careers and careers in research.

Rankings and NSS results

The National Student Survey 2020 ranked Heriot-Watt University 1st in the UK for Physics. This reflects our excellent staff-student ratio and welcoming academic community.

In response to the survey, 100% of Heriot-Watt students said they were satisfied with the quality of our Physics degree. 100% of students also said that staff were good at explaining things and that the degree was intellectually stimulating.

Physics at Heriot-Watt University is ranked 2nd in Scotland and 5th in the UK by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021, in the subject of Physics and Astronomy. 


This honours degree in Physics is accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of partially meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.

Student profile

Susan Chan

As a student I was awarded summer internships in research groups. It was great to be part of the research going on in Physics at Heriot-Watt. I was able to see what research was like and this helped me find my PhD place.

Course content

Year 1

Provides foundations of physics and mathematics and gives the opportunity to look at wider aspects of physics through experimental study in investigative techniques. Also covered are fundamental engineering skills in electronics and mechanics.

Year 2

Important themes of physics are introduced through courses in Thermal Physics, Photonics and Optics and Electronics. Experimental, Programming, and Communication skills are developed through practical laboratory activities.

Year 3

Deals with more advanced treatments of core physics, such as: Electromagnetism; Dynamics and Relativity; and Solid State Physics. Experimental and programming skills are further developed using more in-depth experimental studies.

Year 4

Deals with more advanced treatments of core physics, such as: Advanced Electromagnetism; Laser Physics; Quantum Concepts; and Solid State Physics. Students can choose from specialist topics including Optical Sensing and Optoelectronics.

Discover Uni course data

Discover Uni provides data on each university's degree courses across a range of measures including student satisfaction, graduate jobs and salaries.


Work and study

This is what our BSc (Hons) Physics students are doing 15 months after graduating:

  • 60% are working
  • 10% are studying
  • 10% are working and studying.

In highly skilled work

  • 65% of those are in highly skilled work 15 months after graduating.


  • The average salary of students 15 months after graduating: £22000
  • The average UK salary of students 15 months after graduating from a similar course: £25000


These are the most common jobs students go into 15 months after graduating:

  • Natural and social science professionals
  • Engineering professionals

Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers AAAB or ABBBB (including Physics or Mathematics at A)
  • A-Levels BBC (including Physics and Mathematics BB)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 29 points (with Higher Level Physics and Mathematics)
  • BTEC DDM (in relevant subject)
  • HNC B in graded unit (in relevant HNC)

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (including Physics and Mathematics BB)
  • A-Levels BCC (including Physics and Mathematics)

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (Physics and Mathematics plus Highers AAAB/ABBBB)
  • A-Levels AAB (including Physics and Mathematics AA)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 32 points (with Higher Level Physics and Mathematics at 6)
  • HNC A in graded unit (in a relevant HNC)
  • HND BB in graded units (in relevant HND)
  • BTEC DDD (in relevant subject)

Additional information

  • Please note that the Chemical Physics programmes also require a relevant Chemistry qualification appropriate to the Level (for example, A-Levels or Highers at grade C for Level 1, A-Levels or Advanced Highers at grade B for Level 2)
  • For all years, applications are welcomed from holders of non-school qualificationsmature candidates and overseas students.
  • If you do not see your qualifications here please contact us at
  • Please check that you meet our University-wide National 5/GCSE (or equivalent) English and Maths requirements.

English language requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2021 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland** International***
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £19,792

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'Rest of the UK' (RUK) and Republic of Ireland students entering at Level 1 receive a fee waiver of one year's tuition fee. Normally this will be the final year, or a year during which students study abroad (either at a partnership institution, or at one of Heriot-Watt's overseas campuses).

*** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

4 years for the price of 3

If you live in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, study with us and save £9,250 over your 4-year degree.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales starting undergraduate degree courses in 2021

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.