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Physics with Philosophy BSc

UCAS code F3V5
Year of entry 2018
Course Length
3 years full time
Department Physics »
Politics and International Relations »

A joint degree allows you to study in depth two complementary subjects that inspire you. Best of all, you’ll have the opportunity to develop a wider range of skills and your employability, when you graduate, will be boosted – according to graduate destination surveys.

Our students often say their enthusiasm to study Physics stems from wanting to learn more about the Higgs particle, dark matter, nanotechnology or just a wide-ranging curiosity about how things really work. Whatever your reasons, our Physics department aims to inform and excite in the study of Physics, the most fundamental of the sciences.

As one of the most respected centres for Physics teaching and research in the UK, this degree covers the core material that a graduate physicist would be expected to know, including quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical physics and thermodynamics, Einstein’s relativistic physics and the study of the fundamental structure of matter and the universe. You’ll also develop the mathematical, experimental and conceptual knowledge and skills.

This degree programme gives you the opportunity to combine your studies with Philosophy, which comprises 25% of the course and introduces you to key elements of philosophy such as ancient philosophy and reason, argument and persuasion. If you have a curious and inquisitive mind and are looking for a subject that teaches you how to think clearly and question perceptively, one that will sharpen your analytical skills and critical thinking then Philosophy is ideal for you. Philosophy, as an addition to your studies, will help you develop and express reasoned arguments, to use logical processing and critical analysis to defend your position and debate opposing opinions, skills that not only enhance your academic abilities but your employability too.

  • We place a strong emphasis on small group teaching – a close-knit, friendly and supportive environment with high staff-student ratio and an open door policy.
  • We enjoy a strong track record of high student satisfaction in the annual National Student Survey.
  • We’ve been awarded IOP Juno Champion and Athena SWAN silver awards for best practice in equality, promoting women in science and welcoming large cohorts of female students.
  • We have close ties with, and conduct research at major international laboratories such as CERN, ISIS and Diamond, plus collaborations with other major institutions around the world.                                   

Core modules

Year 1

The core modules in Physics are:

The core module in Philosophy is:

Epistemology and Metaphysics

In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key problems that have preoccupied contemporary philosophers. You will look at logical questions relating to the structure of arguments, epistemological questions about the sources and limits of knowledge, and consider metaphysical questions that explore the relationship between minds, bodies, and the possibilities of human freedoms.

You will also take one from the following:

Introduction to Logic

In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.

Mind and Consciousness

In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.

Introduction to Aesthetics and Morals

In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.

Year 2

The core modules in Physics are:

The core modules in Philosophy are:

Introduction to European Philosophy 1 - From Kant to Hegel

In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major espistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

Mind and World

Year 3

The core modules in Physics are:

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Optional modules in Physics include:

Year 2

Only core modules are taken.

Year 3

Optional modules in Physics include:

Optional modules in Philosophy include:

Practical Ethics
Modern French Philosophy
Major Thinker
Philosophy of Language
Modern European Philosophy 1 - Husserl to Heidegger
Modern European Philosophy 2 - Post-structuralism and its Critics
Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 24 course units at the rate of eight per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice.

Teaching in the Physics department takes place in lectures, seminars, laboratory practical classes and problem-solving sessions. Outside class-time students participate in group projects and guided independent study and have access to the college’s comprehensive e-learning facility, ‘Moodle’ where there is a variety of resources available for students.

Assessment is usually by two-hour examination at the end of the year. Coursework and in-class tests also contribute to the assessment of many course units. Experimental work is generally assessed by written reports or oral presentation. A minimum of six of the eight course units must be passed with a minimum score of 40 per cent each year.

In Philosophy, depending on the course unit, you will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Outside class teaching, you will work both independently and collaboratively with other students, researching topics in preparation for class discussion and producing your assessed coursework. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources through Moodle.

All Philosophy academic staff hold regular drop-in consultation sessions with students and, when you start with us, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

Most modules contain an element of assessed coursework, such as an essay, presentation and/or assessed seminar participation marks, which contributes to the final examination mark awarded. The results of the first year exams qualify you to progress to the second year but do not contribute to your final degree award. The second and final year results do contribute to the final degree result, with the final year work counting double that of the second year.

Study time

Proportions of study time will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

You will spend 35% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 65% in guided independent study.

Year 2

You will spend 31% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 69% in guided independent study.

Year 3

You will spend 27% of your study time in scheduled learning and teaching activities, and 73% in guided independent study.

Assessment

Proportions of assessment types will vary depending on modules taken, but typically:

Year 1

Written exams account for 65% of the total assessment for this year of study, 2% will be assessed through practical exams, and 33% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 2

Written exams account for 56% of the total assessment for this year of study, and 44% will be assessed through coursework.

Year 3

Written exams account for 39% of the total assessment for this year of study, 1% will be assessed through practical exams, and 60% will be assessed through coursework.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A-levels

AAA-ABB including Maths and Physics
How we assess your application: predicted grades lower than our typical offers are considered. Read more about what we look for here

  • Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. 

  • Socio-economic factors which may have impacted an applicant’s education will be taking into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.

Required/preferred subjects

Required subjects: Mathematics and Physics, plus a Pass in the practical element of any Science A-levels being taken

At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics

Other UK Qualifications
International Baccalaureate

6,5,5 at Higher Level including 6 in Maths at Higher Level and 5 in Physics at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.

BTEC Extended Diploma

Not normally accepted without A-levels.

BTEC National Extended Diploma

Distinction Distinction plus A in A-level Maths and A in A-level Physics.  Plus a Pass in the practical element of any Science A-levels taken.

BTEC National Extended Certificate

Distinction plus A in A-level Maths and A in A-level Physics.  Plus a Pass in the practical element of any Science A-levels taken.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Requirements are as for A-levels where one non-subject-specified A-level can be replaced by the same grade in the Welsh Baccalaureate - Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate.

Scottish Advanced Highers

AAA-ABB including Maths and Physics.

Scottish Highers

AAABB including A in Maths and B in Physics.

Irish Leaving Certificate

H2, H2, H2, H3, H3 including H2 in Maths and H2 in Physics. 

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Pass with at least 33 level 3 credits at Distinction, including Distinction in all Maths and Physics units and Merit in the remaining level 3 units.

Please note that the Access to Higher Education Diploma will only be acceptable if the applicant has had a considerable break from education.

Other UK qualifications

Please select your UK qualification from the drop-down list below



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International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

English language
requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies see here

For more information about entry requirements for your country please visit our International pages. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Choosing to include philosophy in your studies at Royal Holloway not only prepares you well for postgraduate study it also equips you with the skills and qualities that employers are looking for.  Philosophy degrees are well-regarded by employers because they give you the capacity to think through issues and problems in a logical and consistent way and to develop critical and transferable skills which can be applied in almost any area of employment from computing to the arts.   

So, by choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline you will develop a broad range of highly prized transferable skills, such as the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently, to critically digest, analyse and summarise complex ideas, effective time management, organisation and research skills and problem-solving skills.

A degree in Physics is one of the most sought after and respected qualifications available. Graduate employment levels for Physicists are amongst the highest of any subject.

The training in logical thinking, the ability to analyse a problem from first principles in an abstract, logical and coherent way, and to define a problem and then solve it, are critically important skills. These skills go well beyond your specific knowledge of physical phenomena they’re the reason why Physics graduates go on to excel in all types of employment, including those only loosely related to Physics, like management and finance, as well as scientific, technical, engineering and teaching careers. In this way, a degree in Physics helps keep your future employment options both bright and open.


  • According to the Institute of Physics, in the UK alone Physics-based industry employs more than 1.79 million people, while UK graduates in Physics earn more than those in most other disciplines.
  • 80% of our Physics graduates are in full time employment or further study within six months of graduation.
  • We offer paid summer internships so you can get invaluable work experience and work closely with our research teams. 

Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

International students tuition fee per year**: £18,900

Other essential costs***: £55

How do I pay for it?  Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*Tuition fees for UK and EU nationals starting a degree in the academic year 2017/18 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates starting their degrees in 2018 is controlled by Government regulations, and details are not yet known. The UK Government has also announced that EU students starting an undergraduate degree in 2018/19 will pay the same level of fee as a UK student for the duration of their degree.

**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our  terms & conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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