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Commonly asked question

An accredited degree is one that has been rigorously checked by the Institute of Physics and offers the best possible start to a career in physics. Choosing an accredited degree will make you eligible for schemes such as the IOP undergraduate research bursary and make it easier to obtain professional awards such as chartered physicist later in your career. A recognised degree is one that does not meet all the requirements of accreditation but has been deemed to contain enough physics for graduates to obtain membership of the Institute of Physics. You can find out more about accreditation and recognition on the Institute of Physics website.

MPhys and MSci courses last a year longer than a BSc and are designed to prepare you for direct entry into professional practice or for progression to further study and provide more opportunity to develop expertise such as presentation and communication skills. There is no difference between the status of an MPhys and MSci qualifications; these simply have different names at different universities. If you're unsure which to choose, don't worry, most universities allow transfers between BSc/BA and MPhys/MSci courses up to the end of your second year.

A degree in physics will not only develop your understanding of core physics but also equip you with a range of transferable skills valued by a wide range of both technical and non-technical employers. As a result physics degrees are very highly regarded by employers in across many sectors. You can find out more about what careers physics graduates pursue on the Institute of Physics website.

Above all, you should choose a university that suits you best in terms of the courses they offer, entry requirements and location. Some people like to use university league tables when comparing courses. If you are going to do this, do bear in mind that different universities have different strengths and league tables do not reveal the full picture, as a very small difference in how a course is judged can make a big difference in the overall ranking. A long-term study by the IOP shows that the university you chose actually makes little difference to your career prospects. The class of degree (i.e. the “grade” you get) is a far more important factor.

Studying for a degree in physics usually involves a combination of lectures, practical sessions and tutorials. Lectures can be for anything between 50 to 300 students in large lecture theatres. Tutorials are classes with smaller numbers and practical sessions are taught in specialist laboratories. The amount of practical work is different depending on the course and university, but you should expect to spend about 15% of your time on practical work.

The IOP Juno awards scheme recognises and rewards physics departments that can demonstrate they have taken action address gender equality in physics and to encourage better practice for all staff. Departments can receive three levels of award; supporter, practitioner, and champion, depending on the level of action they have taken in supporting both female and male students and employees within their departments. If a university has a Juno award, you can see the level of the award in the information tab for a particular university. You can find out more about the Juno award levels on the Institute of Physics website.