Degree structure and flexibility

Tailoring your degree to suit your needs and interests.

If you are unsure about which degree programme to take, whether or not to undertake a year abroad, or whether a BSc or MPhys degree is more suitable for you, you have the flexibility when you first come to Edinburgh, and often up to the start of year 3 (Junior Honours level), to make changes to your degree.

You therefore have time to speak to staff and students, consider the options and to construct a programme of study to suit your interests and needs.

First Year entry --> Year 1 & 2 (Pre-Honours)  
Second Year entry -->
  Year  3 (Junior Honours) --> BSc (Ordinary)
  Year 4 & 5 (Senior Honours & Integrated Masters) --> BSc (Honours)
--> MPhys

Flexible entry

The School of Physics & Astronomy offers a choice between entry into first year or directly into second year. Entrance requirements for entry to second year are higher than those for first year, as second year is more demanding, so students need to be suitably prepared.

If you are undecided about whether you should apply for entry to first year or second year, we advise you to choose first year entry.  If you then meet the entry requirements for second year, you will be able to transfer (following discussion with your Personal Tutor as soon as you start your studies) should you wish to do so.

BSc or MPhys

We offer two types of Honours degree: BSc and MPhys. Here are some points to bear in mind when considering which to choose.

  • The BSc degree programme aims to provide a thorough and balanced education in physics, and the opportunity to acquire widely-valued general skills; to provide access to a broad spectrum of careers, both within and out with science; and to provide a basis for further career-related postgraduate courses.  The duration of the BSc degree is 3-4 years (depending on entry year).
  • The MPhys degree programme is designed primarily for the aspiring professional physicist. The additional year it entails (with respect to the BSc programme) provides a broader and deeper exposure to the concepts, methods and phenomena of physics. It also provides experience of research work, and will constitute the normal route into graduate research.  The duration of the MPhys degree is 4-5 years (depending on entry year). 

Course choice

Some of our degrees combine physics courses with those delivered by other Schools, giving you the opportunity to follow a broader curriculum.  Such degrees include Computational Physics, Mathematical Physics, Physics and Music, and Physics with Meteorology.

In addition, many of our degrees give you the flexibility to take courses in other academic areas during the pre-honours years.  For example – timetable permitting – you could learn a new language, or study courses in engineering. 

In years 3-5, you can choose courses and projects from a wide range covering many aspects of physics, depending on your interests and the direction you wish your degree to take.