Highfield / Highfield - Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy

We are a top 20 UK ranking physics department that has consistently received the highest rating for our research for more than a decade.

This means our students learn from physicists and astronomers who are world leaders in their fields, with access to state-of-the-art labs, photonics equipment and roof top observatories.

Our BSc Physics and MPhys Physics programmes are based on a core physics curriculum covering topics that you will need for any career in physics, with the MPhys expanding your study and developing professional skills. You don’t have to choose between the three- and four-year courses when you apply. You will have access to our MPhys ‘with degree’ courses during your studies but can also study options from across the University.

MPhys Physics (with year of experimental research): our materials physicists have the opportunity to make use of our world-class laboratories.

MPhys Physics (with industrial placement): students interested in making strong links with industry will benefit from undertaking a six-month industrial placement with a local company as part of their programme.

Joint degrees are available in:

MPhys Physics with Astronomy provides our top students with the opportunity to visit Tenerife for astronomical observation at the Izana Observatory.

MPhys Physics with Astronomy (with year abroad) offers the opportunity to relocate to Boston, USA to work at the world-renowned Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

MPhys Physics with Mathematics covers diverse areas from general relativity to topology, number theory or the mathematics of finance. Theoretical physics courses taught by international experts in our Theoretical Particle Physics group are also available.

MPhys Particle Physics (with year abroad) offers the opportunity to relocate to Geneva, Switzerland to work on the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s highest energy particle collider.

MPhys Physics with Photonics is taught by our staff in collaboration with the Optoelectronics Research Centre and is an excellent foundation for a career in photonics.

MPhys Physics with Space Science, , our top students have the opportunity to visit La Laguna University in Tenerife to participate in a design study for a scientific spacecraft. Remote sensing of the Earth from satellite-borne instruments is particularly important in studies of global warming and environmental protection.

MPhys Physics with Nanotechnology, you will learn how physics, photonics, electronics, chemistry and biochemistry relate to nanotechnology.

Physics and Astronomy - taught courses

Southampton is among the top five universities for physics in the UK, with over half of our work judged to be world leading or internationally excellent in the last two Research Assessment Exercises.

MSc Photonic Technologies
Many of the major developments in today’s technology were pioneered by our researchers, including the optical fibres and amplifiers that form the hardware backbone of the internet and the fibre laser which is used for a variety of applications ranging from manufacturing to defence.

Our world-leading research centre is a hive of activity with over 200 staff and students working on cutting-edge research to provide innovative solutions for real life problems in manufacturing, communication technology, defence, healthcare, renewable energy and the environment.

Physics and Astronomy - research

Southampton is among the top five universities for physics in the UK, with over half of our work judged to be world leading or internationally excellent in the last two Research Assessment Exercises.

Research areas:

The Astronomy Group, are world experts in the study of compact stellar objects. They observe x-ray and gamma-ray sources and are leaders in the Integral space mission. The Space Environment Physics Group within the Astronomy Group, study the Earth's upper atmosphere and magnetosphere and its interaction with the Sun.

The Quantum, Light & Matter Group explores how matter interacts at the smallest and fastest scales, and is partnered with two major internationally renowned centres: the UK NanoPhotonics Centre, and the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).

The Theoretical Particle Physics Group's work on fundamental physics was particularly highlighted in our 5* RAE report. The group studies the strong and weak nuclear forces, and the origin of particles' masses. The group is a leading player in the large UK Lattice QCD computer collaboration

Optoelectronics (ORC) - taught courses

The Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) is one of the world’s leading research institutes in photonics and laser technology. Led by Professor David Payne, its roots date to the birth of lasers and optical communications, nearly 50 years ago.

New MSc degree in Photonic Technologies
This MSc is the first Masters programme within the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). It offers students access to an excellent range of photonics equipment and materials technologies within a vibrant community of researchers, led by some of the leading figures in the field of photonics. The new MSc lasts one year and will be delivered within Physical and Applied Sciences at the university’s main campus at Highfield.