Accreditations to Look for When Applying for a Physics Degree

Physics is an incredibly varied degree and aspects of it could be applied to every industry. By becoming a physicist you’ll be joining the next generation of radical thinkers in the field of Physics.

If you’re looking for a degree with real world applications then you’re in luck with Physics as physicists play a major role in all sectors, in particular in the technology and engineering industries.

Although course content varies between universities, you can expect to spend a lot of time in the classroom studying the theoretical aspects of the field, as well as time conducting experiments and taking part in practical work.

Here’s more about studying Physics and the accreditations to look for when applying for a Physics degree:

What are my study options?

Unlike many other degree subjects, you have two options when it comes to choosing a Physics degree.

The first option is to take a three year Bachelors of Science (BSc). The second option is to take a four year long undergraduate Master’s degree – known either as an MPhys or an MSci.

If you’re considering an academic career then you’d be advised to take either the MPhys or MSci as a transfer from the BSc to the longer course is only possible until the end of the first or second year.

It’s important to think about your future career options before applying and be aware that you’ll usually find MPhys and MSci courses have higher entry requirements.

What is an accredited Physics degree?

There are over 40 universities in the UK offering Physics courses and you can find a full list of Physics degree courses on the Institute of Physics (IoP) website.

The Institute of Physics is dedicated to ensuring high educational standards for students of Physics and continually monitor to course content and standard of accredited programmes to keep the quality high.

The IoP says the primary aims of Institute accreditation are to:

  • Provide an independent, rigorous and valid assessment of physics degree courses
  • Support the standing of individual courses and departments
  • Make it easier to promote the standing of UK and Ireland courses throughout Europe and the rest of the world
  • Guarantee to potential students that a course can satisfy the academic requirements for Institute Membership
  • Enhance the standing of physics and physicists

What about a “Recognised degree”?

A recognised degree (indicated by “rec” in degree listings) is one that does not meet all the requirements of accreditation but has been deemed to contain enough good quality Physics for graduates to obtain membership of the Institute of Physics.

Why should I study an accredited Physics degree?

An accredited degree is one that has been thoroughly checked by the Institute of Physics and offers the best possible start to your career. Choosing an accredited degree will make you eligible for schemes such as the IOP undergraduate research bursary.

Studying an accredited Physics course also makes it easier to obtain professional awards such as Chartered Physicist later in your career.

Where can I study Physics?

As we said, there are over 40 universities in the UK that offers Physics courses. Here are some of the universities that offer courses accredited by the Institute of Physics:

  • University of Bath
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Durham
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Hull
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Keele
  • University of Kent
  • King’s College London
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Leeds

What can I do with a degree in Physics?

Although a lot of your course will be theoretical, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t jobs in the “real world” to go to.

Obviously your degree will make you ideal for research-based roles and jobs in other scientific fields. However, you’ll also gain skills that are applicable in industries such as business, finance, IT, engineering, and many more.

You’ll of course gain many Physics specific skills but you’ll also have transferrable skills that will make you attractive to many future employers.

These skills include:

  • Problem solving and using a pragmatic and analytical approach
  • Reasoning by constructing logical arguments and applying analytical skills to grasp complex problems
  • Numeracy – you’ll have strong skills in using mathematics to find solutions to scientific problems, mathematical modelling and interpreting and presenting information
  • Practical skills – you’ll be experienced in planning, executing and reporting experiments and using technical equipment
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Communication - conveying complex ideas and using technical language
  • IT skills - including specialist software packages and some programming