A physics degree can provide a great foothold into a range of industries and roles. Physics degree jobs can take you into private industry or the public sector; short days in an office or long, travel-based roles; lab work, outdoor work or computer and technology work, you’ll always find different kinds of jobs from physics degree.
There’s an exciting variety of options, so read on to discover some of the ways you can put a physics degree to use. We’ll start here with the direct routes, then in ‘What can you do with a physics degree?’ we consider some of the sideways moves you could make after graduation.
What to do with a physics degree
A geophysicist works with oil, gas and landfill sites, and may need to work out at sea for long periods. It’s a role that’s specifically tied to just a few sites across the UK, such as in Aberdeen, so be sure to consider this in your planning. An acoustic consultant provides the expertise in any sound-related project and will likely have more of a focus on a theoretical degree in physics.
For example, refining a new hearing aid, planning speaker layout at a concert, working with phone companies to optimise their sound, leasing with architects to consider building acoustics, or working with public services and law enforcement to evaluate noise pollution complaints.
Perhaps a graduate with a theoretical physics degree would be interested in a role as a clinical scientist, researching and developing medical equipment. Candidates with strong skills in physics and mathematics (or studying a maths and physics degree) could go into computer programming, a vast field in itself with roles in banking, finance, vehicle software, and video games.
If you’re a strong communicator, schools are always crying out for good physics teachers. A single year of postgraduate training, such as the PGCE, would enable you to gain Qualified Teacher Status and become a secondary school physics teacher.
And that’s not all: weather experts could become meterologists, while a metallurgist works in metal extraction and processing for design and manufacture. You could work in radiation technology or nuclear power, or even become a technical author if you like to write, in which something like a chemistry and physics degree would be useful too or even a physics and music degree.
Throughout the course, the subject-specific aspect of the degree will increase as time passes, allowing students to specialise and tailor the qualification to their needs.
What can you do with a physics degree?
So what can I do with a physics degree, you may find yourself asking.
Well, having thought about some of the more obvious jobs with physics degree requirements or other physics degree entry requirements, how about careers for physics grads who want to do something a little different?
A huge number of companies and organisations offer graduate training schemes and various jobs with a physics degree, welcoming applicants from all subjects. Your physics degree could therefore be a ticket into a new direction such as finance, business, logistics, insurance, healthcare, technology, or legal work (such as becoming a patent attorney, which would make good use of your physics expertise).
Alternatively, you might carry on at university and study for a master’s or a PhD or a distance learning physics degree, although the physics degree requirements will likely change. These qualifications will make you an even more attractive candidate to employers, or can alternatively facilitate a career in academia, leading to lecturing, writing and research.
When narrowing down physics degree jobs, consider the location, hours, salary, contract type and skillsets so that you know whether it’s right for you. Read on to learn more about studying a physics degree UK…
This branch of science is an incredibly complex one that aims to reach the bottom of how things work. A huge number of scientific and technological developments are rooted in the science of physics.
Degrees in physics develop individuals’ understanding of the relationship between the physical laws of the universe, and how these laws apply across different scales of time and space.
Cosmology is the study of the evolution, origin and fate of the universe, and astrophysics is focused on the stars that fill the universe, whereas space science is concerned with the Earth’s planetary neighbourhood.
Astronomy is the study of space, celestial objects and the physical universe as a whole.
What A Levels do I need?
The majority of courses will ask for A-level subjects in physics and maths, and the exact grades differ from each institution. Some universities will ask for at least 136 UCAS Tariff points, while others will require BBB in A-level grades.
Students are advised to check with their chosen institutions to ensure they understand what they need to gain admission to the course.
What are my study options?
Normally, a degree in physics is three years in length. However, some universities offer a Master’s of Physics (MPhys) degree but as an integrated course which lasts four years, and includes a Masters qualification within the undergraduate degree. Furthermore, other physics degree courses will offer individuals the opportunity of working a year in industry during their time studying, which then increases the final study time to four years. Students will spend a year working in the industry, at a placement and gaining valuable experience that they can then use to secure employment after graduating, sometimes studied as part of a part time physics degree.
Candidates will study modules that form a solid basis for the course, and allow the individual to progress and develop with each academic year. Students will study core maths principles (especially so on a maths or physics degree), motion and relativity, physics and the solar system. Although each degree course will feature a range of modules, students will have a chance to learn similar areas of study and will also open up new careers with physics degree or even a foundation degree physics.
Additionally, universities may offer joint degree courses that allow individuals to study two similar areas, such as astronomy, engineering or mathematics (these are both also covered in a mathematics and physics degree). There is an extensive range of degrees available for individuals to study, including a Bachelors of Science (BSc), Masters of Physics (MPhys) and Masters of Science (MSc) degrees.
Examples of degrees are as follows; astronomy, space science and astrophysics, environmental physics, natural sciences, engineering physics degree, observational astronomy, nuclear physics degree, physics, physical sciences, chemistry, medical physics, medical physics degree, chemical physics degree, nanoscience, nanotechnology, nuclear technology with physics, planetary and space physics, astro physics degree, cosmology, photonics, quantum technologies, quantum physics degree, satellite technology, theoretical astrophysics and applied mathematics, although, not all of these can be done as part of an online physics degree.
All of the above degree options can be paired with physics.
Dara O’Briain, a British comedian, studied mathematics and theoretical physics at University College Dublin.
What should I expect from studying physics?
Students will spend their time analysing data from satellites, using maths to prove theories and find themselves working on problems within astrophysics, physics laboratories and vector calculus, as well as, classical mechanics, optics, waves, electromagnetic fields, thermodynamics and relativity.
Throughout the course, the subject-specific aspect of the degree will increase as time passes, allowing students to specialise and tailor the qualification to their needs. Also, there will be a research project to complete in the final year of study.
How will I be assessed?
Individuals will be assessed by a mixture of examinations and coursework, from project work, written reports, oral presentations, seminars, and practical laboratory experimental sessions, this will vary from each institution, so it’s important for students to choose the right university and course, this can be done by visiting university open days.
What skills will I learn from studying physics?
Students will gain skills specific to the course, such as problem-solving, numeracy, logical thinking and computer literacy.
Individuals who choose to go to university will gain a number of transferable skills from organisation and time-management from working on deadlines to social skills by working in groups and performing presentations.
Why study physics?
Physics are ideal for students who have a passion for comprehending how the world works, and in cooperation with other forces around it. It also will satisfy those that wish to study a branch of science, but unsure what branch to take, as it can be paired with many similar subjects and interests.
A huge number of companies and organisations offer graduate training schemes and various jobs with a physics degree, welcoming applicants from all subjects.
What happens after I graduate?
There are decent job prospects for physics graduates, as the branch of science is so broad and allow students to tailor their qualification in several directions.
Physics also works well with other subjects, from technology, research, finance and computing roles.
Will it help me get a job?
Physics is an exciting branch of science that is fundamental to the development of modern society and its understanding of the world as well as its technology. A degree in physics or astronomy will open up a wide range of rewarding physics degree careers, in technological development, scientific research as well as a range of other professions and other careers with a physics degree.
What jobs can you get with a physics degree?
Some graduates choose to study for a postgraduate qualification; others enter employment or research roles. Particular job areas include; finance, consulting, computer programming, managerial and administrative positions or accountancy.
What can I study after physics?
For those individuals wishing to continue with their studies can obtain a Masters degree in physics (MSc), Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) and a Masters of Research (MRes) in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, nanoscience and many other areas.
A geophysicist works with oil, gas and landfill sites, and may need to work out at sea for long periods.
Famous physics studies alumni
Dara O’Briain, a British comedian, studied mathematics and theoretical physics at University College Dublin. O’Briain still shares his love for science by fronting scientific programmes such as School of Hard Sums, and Stargazing Live.
Also, Brian May, guitarist from one of Britain’s greatest rock bands, Queen, studied a BSc in Physics and gained a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London. May began his PhD in 1970, but the success of the band got in the way, and finished his Doctorate in 2007 – 37 years later!