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Physics with a Preliminary Year (BSc)

  • F301

4 years (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)

Physics is for people who take a real interest in the world around them, those who have enquiring minds and want to understand why things are the way they are. Physics is the basic science and lies at the very heart of all high technology and engineering. As a Physics student at Cardiff, you will be part of a School housed in a multi-million pound complex which also houses Engineering and Computing. It has modern well-equipped laboratories, lecture theatres, computing facilities, conference suites and a project resource centre.

Physics with a Preliminary Year

There are often good reasons why able students may not have the appropriate A-levels/AS-levels to enter the first year of a Physics degree programme. If you find yourself in this position, the Preliminary Year at Cardiff University can provide you with the academic background you will need for a science degree.  On successful completion of the Preliminary Year, you will automatically progress into the first year of a Physics degree programme.

Key Facts

UCAS Code F301
Duration 4 years
How to apply
Accreditation Institute of Physics
Typical places available The School admits 120 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes.
Typical applications received 550-600
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer Not applicable
Admissions Tutors Dr Chris North
Tel Number 029 2087 0537
Email address
School website

The BSc Physics degree is designed to give you a broad physics education and, in addition, supply you with a wide range of mathematical and computational skills. The course structure is very flexible.

Preliminary Year

The foundation year consists of 12 modules selected from a range of subjects. As a Physics applicant you would be expected to study the five Physics modules:

  • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Motion and Energy
  • Foundations of Modern Physics
  • Electricity Magnetism and Light
  • Elementary Mathematical Methods

Physics students are also recommended to take the Mathematics modules on offer. The most popular modules are from Chemistry and Biology. Most Physics/Astronomy students opt to take the Chemistry courses because they provide a good foundation for much of the Physics studied in the first year of the degree programme.
The range of modules available in the first year is designed to stimulate your interest in Physics whilst giving you a sound foundation upon which to build in later years. At the end of the first year, you may decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's physics and astronomy degrees.

Weekly tutorials and exercise classes related to the module content ensure that students have a high level of support within their first year at Cardiff. The second year of the programmes continues to build on the core physics material and extends the range of choice available through the optional modules.

The final year of our degree allows students to specialise and study selected topics in depth. The majority of the modules taken at this stage are optional. A research project forms an important part of the teaching. The third year project provides the opportunity to apply the physics learnt in years one and two and to develop independent research skills. There are a number of additional skills associated with the project such as presentations, report writing and information management.

The intention of the School of Physics and Astronomy is to provide students with an in-depth education over a broad range of widely applicable skills.  Teaching is carried out using a wide range of different techniques.  There are the traditional lectures, tutorials and laboratory work and, in addition, there are computer-based courses, project-based courses, skills-based courses and the opportunity to attend a residential course in mid-Wales.

There is a wide variety of assessment methods.  Some modules are assessed purely by an end of semester exam (in January or May), some combine continual assessment with an end of semester exam and others are all continual assessment.

Students are assigned an Academic and Personal Tutor. Personal tutors are there to advise on academic, non-academic and personal matters in a confidential and informal manner. You will meet with your academic tutor once a week in the first year to discuss any study-related issues. You will also receive your marked coursework back with feedback during your tutorial.
Typical A-level Offer  Not applicable
Typical WBQ Offer  Not applicable
Typical Int Bacc Offer  Not applicable

Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

In 2010, 50% of the School's graduates were in professional employment within six months of graduation while a further 33% were engaged in further study with others taking time out to travel etc. Employers included: UK and international universities plus organisations such as the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Oclaro Technology and the Ministry of Defence. Career destinations included: lecturer, research scientist, research development leader, medical physicist.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Chris North  

Telephone: 029 2087 0537 



School Website:

More information