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.
Core ModulesYear 1
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to solve problems involving one variable (either real or complex) and differentiate and integrate simple functions. You will learn how to use vector algebra and geometry and how to use the common probability distributions.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to solve problems involving more than one variable. You will learn how to use matrices and solves eigenvalue problems, and how to manipulate vector differential operators, including gradient, divergence and curl. You will also consider their physical significance and the theorems of Gauss and Stokes.
In this module you will develop an understanding of good practices in the laboratory. You will keep a notebook, recording experimental work as you do it. You will set up an experiment from a script, and carry out and record measurements. You will learn how to analyse data and plot graphs using a computer package, and present results and conclusions including error estimations from your experiments.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to apply the techniques and formulae of mathematical analysis, in particular the use of vectors and calculus, to solve problems in classical mechanics. You will look at statics, dynamics and kinematics as applied to linear and rigid bodies. You will also examine the various techniques of physical analysis to solve problems, such as force diagrams and conservation principles.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the macroscopic properties of the various states of matter, looking at elementary ideas such as ideal gases, internal energy and heat capacity. Using classical models of thermodynamics, you will examine gases, liquids, solids, and the transitions between these states, considering phase equilibrium, the van der Waals equation and the liquefaction of gases. You will also examine other states of matter, including polymers, colloids, liquid crystals and plasmas.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the building blocks of fundamental physics. You will look at Einstein’s special theory of relativity, considering time-dilation and length contraction, the basics of quantum mechanics, for example wave-particle duality, and the Schrödinger equation. You will also examine concepts in astrophysics such as the Big Bang theory and how the Universe came to be the way we observe it today.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how the ‘new philosophy’ of the seventeenth century set the modern philosophical agenda. You will look at the work of some of the most ground breaking philosophers of the period, such René Descartes and John Locke, and consider how later philosophers such as Gottfried Leibniz and David Hume took up and expanded their ideas. You will consider the fundamental questions which became central to the European Enlightenment, including those concerning knowledge and understanding and the relation between science and other human endeavours.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the mathematical representation of physical problems, and the physical interpretation of mathematical equations. You will look at ordinary differential equations, including linear equations with constant coefficients, homogeneous and inhomogeneous equations, exact differentials, sines and cosines, Legendre poynomials, Bessel's equation, and the Sturm-Liouville theorem. You will examine partial differential equations, considering Cartesian and polar coordinates, and become familiar with integral transforms, the Gamma function, and the Dirac delta function.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how computers are used in modern science for data analysis and visualisation. You will be introduced to the intuitive programming language, Python, and looking at the basics of numerical calculation. You will examine the usage of arrays and matrices, how to plot and visualise data, how to evaluate simple and complex expressions, how to sample using the Monte Carlo methods, and how to solve linear equations.
In this module you will develop an understanding of quantum mechanics and its role in and atomic, nuclear, particle and condensed matter physics. You will look at the wave nature of matter and the probabilistic nature of microscopic phenomena. You will learn how to use the key equation of quantum mechanics to describe fundamental phenomena, such as energy quantisation and quantum tunnelling. You will examine the principles of quantum mechanics, their physical consequences, and applications, considering the nature of harmonic oscillator systems and hydrogen atoms.
In this module you will develop an understanding of thermal physics and elementary quantum mechanics. You will look at the thermodynamic properties of an ideal gas, examining the solutions of Schrödinger’s equation for particles in a box, and phenomena such as negative temperature, superfluidity and superconductivity. You will also consider the thermodynamic equilibrium process, entropy in thermo-dynamics, and black-body radiation.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the physical properties of solids. You will look at their structure and symmetry, concepts of dislocation and plastic deformation, and the electrical characteristics of metals, alloys and semiconductors. You will examine methods of probing solids and x-ray diffraction, and the thermal properties of photons. You will also consider the quantum theory of solids, including energy bands and the Bloch theorem, as well as exploring fermiology, intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors, and magnetism.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how electric and magnetic fields are generated from static charges and constant currents flowing through wires. You will derive the properties of capacitors and inductors from first principles, and you will learn how to analyse simple circuits. You will use complex numbers to describe damped harmonic oscillations, and the motion of transverse and longitudinal waves.
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 epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and 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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.
- Advanced Skills
- Experimental or Theoretical Project
In this module you develop an understanding of the properties of light, starting from Maxwell’s equations. You will look at optical phenomena such as refraction, diffraction and interference, and how they are exploited in modern applications, from virtual reality headsets to the detection of gravitational waves. You will also examine masers and lasers, and their usage in optical imaging and image processing.
- Electromagnetic Theory
In this module, you will develop an understanding of how the quantum mechanics of matter and light can be used to explain atomic and nuclear phenomena. You will look at the various quantum effects involved in the physics of electrons in atoms, and protons and neutrons in the nuclei. You will examine the atomic spectra, radioactive decay, nuclear reactions, the interaction of radiation with mater, as well as experimental techniques. You will also consider the applications of quantum effects, from modern spectroscopy techniques to the detection of radioactivity.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules 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
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.
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.
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.
- All modules are core
- Energy and Climate Science
- Advanced Classical Physics
- Further Mathematical Methods
- Nonlinear Systems and Chaos
- C++ and Object Oriented Programming
- Signal Recovery and Handling
- Quantum Theory
- Particle Physics
- Metals and Semiconductors
- Superconductivity and Magnetism
- Frontiers of Metrology
- General Relativity and Cosmology
- Particle Astrophysics
You will demonstrate your skills as an independent learner by embarking upon a substantial piece of written work of between 8,000 and 10,000 words in length. You will be guided by a dissertation supervisor, but will choose your own topic, approach, and philosophical sources.
- Modern European Philosophy 1: Husserl to Heidegger
- Modern European Philosophy 2: Critical Theory and Hermeneutics
- Philosophy and the Arts
- The Varieties of Scepticism
- The Philosophy of Religion
- Philosophy and Literature
- The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy
Teaching & assessment
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.
A Levels: AAA-AAB
- A-levels in Mathematics and Physics, plus a pass in the practical element of all science A-levels being taken.
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.
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 taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Other UK Qualifications
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 54. No subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.
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, you may progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
International students tuition fee per year**: £19400
Other essential costs***: £55
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students who started a degree in the academic year 2018/19, it was £9,250 for that year, shown here for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK undergraduates starting their degree in 2019/20 or 2020/21 has not yet been confirmed. The Government has also confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2019/20 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. The fee status for EU nationals starting their degree in 2020/21 is under consideration.
**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and 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.