Physics study guide 2023/24

Physics at Bristol

The School of Physics is right at the heart of the University of Bristol precinct, and benefits from a suite of practical teaching laboratories dedicated to undergraduate students. You can choose from a range of general and specialist subjects, taught in a world class research environment by specialists working in many different fields of physics.

Unit structure

The school offers many classes that are based in a single semester, and can therefore accept unit requests from Study Abroad students who want to join Bristol for just the autumn or spring semester.

Unit levels

The school offers units across all undergraduate levels of study – Year 1 (Level C/4), Year 2 (Level I/5), and Year 3 (Level H/6) – and selected postgraduate units (Level M/7). Level M/7 units are normally taken by students who have studied the subject for at least 3 years beforehand and are at an appropriate level of study to take postgraduate units.

Unit codes

Unit codes in the School of Physics begin with 'PHYS'. This is followed by a number indicating the year (1, 2, 3). For example:

  • PHYS10000 = year 1 unit
  • PHYS20000 = year 2 unit
  • PHYS30000 = year 3 unit
  • PHYSM0000 = Postgraduate level

For more information about each unit, check the University's unit catalogue for 2023/24. Applicants on all study abroad programmes must review the unit details on the catalogue before listing unit choices on their application form. This includes checking the format of assessment for each unit. The unit catalogue for 2023/24 is updated by April 2023.

Your unit choices cannot be guaranteed. Some units may not have capacity to accommodate all of the unit requests we receive. Registration on a unit also depends on whether you meet the pre-requisite conditions through prior study at your home university.

Study Abroad (Subject pathway)

If you have been nominated to Bristol on the Study Abroad (Subject pathway), you must take the majority of your credits in this department.

Project units

If you want to take a project unit you should contact the School ( in advance of their arrival to check if this will be possible and to check topics and availability. If you plan to take a third or fourth year project unit, you will need to study with us for a full academic year.

  • Industrial Group Project (TB4) - PHYS30007
  • Physics Project 333 (TB4) - PHYS39330

Units available on the study abroad programme in 2023/24

The following units from the School of Physics are open to incoming Study Abroad students.

Year 1 (level C/4)

  • Stars and Planets 106 (TB1) - PHYS10600

The School is currently changing 2 units that ran in previous academic years:

  • Core Physics I: Mechanics and Matter (TB1) - PHYS10006
  • Core Physics II: Oscillations, Waves and Fields (TB2) - PHYS10005

These units are very unlikely to be running in 2023-24. Instead, the School is planning to introduce a new unit on Core Physics that runs in TB4 (starts in September and ends in May/June), and will therefore only be available to students studying with us for the full academic year. This guide will be revised at a later date to reflect the chanegs once they have been confirmed.

Year 2 (level I/5)

  • Cosmology 201 (TB2) - PHYS24010 
  • Electromagnetism, Waves and Quantum Mechanics II (TB2) - PHYS20029
  • Mathematical Physics 202 (TB1) - PHYS23020 
  • Mechanics, Oscillations and Quantum Mechanics I (TB1) - PHYS20028 
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics (TB1) - PHYS22040 
  • Thermal Physics (TB2) - PHYS20027

Year 3 (level H/6)

  • Analytical Mechanics (TB2) - PHYS30008 
  • Biophysics 321 (TB1) - PHYS31211 
  • Industrial Group Project TB4 - PHYS30007 
  • Computational Physics 301 (TB4) - PHYS38012 
  • Condensed Matter Physics 311 (TB2C) - PHYS31111 
  • Environmental Physics (TB2) - PHYS30027 
  • Galaxies 301 (TB2C) - PHYS34011
  • High Energy Astrophysics 301 (TB2D) - PHYS34012
  • Industrial Group Project (TB4) - PHYS30007 
  • Materials Physics (TB2) - PHYS30025 
  • Methods of Theoretical Physics 3 (TB2) - PHYS30015 
  • Nanophysics (TB2D) - PHYS32600 
  • Particle Physics (TB1B) - PHYS32012 
  • Physics Project 333 (TB4) - PHYS39330 
  • Quantum Physics 301 (TB1) - PHYS32011 
  • Solid State Physics 3021 (TB1) - PHYS30021 
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution 301 (TB1B) - PHYS34013 

Year 4 (level M/7)

  • Advanced Quantum Physics  (TB1A) - PHYSM3416 
  • Applied Materials Physics (TB1B) - PHYSM0045 
  • Foundations of Modern Physics (TB4) - PHYSM0023
  • General Relativity and Cosmology (TB2D) - PHYSM1900 
  • Magnetism and Superconductivity (TB1B) - PHYSM0038 
  • Relativistic Field Theory (TB2C) - PHYSM3417 
  • Semiconductor Device Physics and Technology (TB2) - PHYSM0048
  • Student Seminar 431 (TB4) - PHYSM3100 
  • Surface Physics (TB2D) - PHYSM0007
  • The Physics of Gas and Plasma in the Universe (TB1A) - PHYSM3409 
  • The Physics of Phase Transitions (TB2D) - PHYSM0300 
  • Theoretical Particle Physics (TB2D) - PHYSM0800 

Suggested unit combinations

We recommend that you choose units from one year level, rather than a combination of different levels, wherever possible. This is to reduce the chances of timetable clashes.

Application queries

Contact the Global Opportunities Team if you have any queries about the application process for the study abroad programmes:

Phone: +44 117 39 40207


Students cannot audit units. Study abroad students are fully registered on units for credit purposes and must attend teaching only for classes that they are registered on.

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