Master of Physics

Our integrated masters degree combines undergraduate and postgraduate study, developing your knowledge and skills to explore the smallest and largest scales of the Universe. You’ll choose to specialise in either Astrophysics with space science or Physics. Choose from a standard, basic maths or advanced start to suit your current knowledge and understanding. Learn to objectively and quantitatively describe, analyse, test, and explain phenomena in our physical world and the wider Universe. Apply experimental, observational and numerical methods and develop appropriate mathematical and programming skills. Conclude with an original research project on a subject at the forefront of physics, astrophysics or space science.

Key features of the course

  • Specialise in Astrophysics with space science or Physics.
  • Develop mathematical and data-handling skills sought after by employers.
  • Use remote experiments and robotic telescopes in our award-winning OpenSTEM Labs.
  • Demonstrate your ability to conduct novel and exciting research.
  • Choose from a standard, basic maths or advanced start, whichever suits you.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Integrated masters

Integrated masters

  • Combines study at the level of an undergraduate honours degree with study at postgraduate (masters) level.
  • Common in engineering, mathematics and science.
  • Often linked to professional body recognition.
Course code
M06
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
480
How long it takes
Part time – 8 years
Full time – 4 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This integrated masters degree has four stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll begin Stage 1 by choosing one of three starts: standard start, basic maths start or advanced start. Read the entry requirements section to decide which start is right for you.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit module covering general physics concepts and a 30-credit module looking at the underpinning applied mathematics. Plus, a 30-credit practical module that uses our OpenSTEM Labs.
  • Next, in Stage 3, you’ll study a 30-credit electromagnetism module and a 30-credit quantum physics module. Plus, a further 60 credits relevant to your chosen specialism.
  • Finally, in Stage 4, you’ll study the last 60 credits relevant to your chosen specialism, plus a 60-credit extended project module where you’ll engage in original research.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

At Stage 1, you’ll choose from the standard start, basic maths start or advanced start. Read the entry requirements to decide which start is right for you.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit physics module, a 30-credit mathematics module and a 30-credit practical module.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

In Stage 3, you’ll first study two 30-credit physics modules. Then, pick your specialism: Astrophysics with space science or Physics. You’ll study 60 credits in your chosen specialism.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Quantum physics (SM380)30
Electromagnetism (SM381)30

Astrophysics with space science

ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Astrophysics (S382)30
The relativistic Universe (S383)30

Physics

ModulesCredits
You'll choose two from:
Astrophysics (S382)30
Computational applied mathematics (MST374) – planned for Oct 202330
Deterministic and stochastic dynamics (MS327)30
Mathematical methods and fluid mechanics (MST326)30

Stage 4 (120 credits)

At Stage 4, you’ll study another 60 credits associated with your chosen specialism, followed by a 60-credit project module.

Astrophysics with space science

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Space science (S818)60

Physics

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Topics in advanced physics (SM880) – planned for Oct 202430
You'll choose one from:
Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820)30
Nonlinear ordinary differential equations (M821)30

Project

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Project for Master of Physics (S841) – planned for Nov 202360

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • online study – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and online tutorials
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • using specialist software and a programming language
  • using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – you’ll need time management during your studies. The university will help you develop these skills throughout your degree.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding.
  • Cognitive skills.
  • Practical and professional skills.
  • Key skills.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some university-level study somewhere else, you may be able to count it towards this qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. For more details and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Master of Physics. The title of your degree will show your specialism:

  • Master of Physics
  • Master of Physics in Astrophysics with Space Science

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 3 and 4.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success

This course has three starts, you should think carefully about which start to choose:

Standard start
The standard start gives you an overview of a breadth of scientific topics and the skills needed to study science successfully.

The standard start begins with the key introductory module Questions in science (S111) and the OU level 1 module Essential mathematics 1 (MST124). Check you’re ready for S111 and MST124 at the following links:

Note: S111 will develop your mathematical skills and advise on preparing for MST124.

Basic maths start
The basic maths start develops your maths skills from basic to Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) and Essential mathematics 2 (MST125).

The basic maths start begins with the key introductory module Discovering mathematics (MU123). Check you’re ready for MU123 at the following link:

Note: you must study these modules sequentially, affecting your study rate.

Advanced start
The advanced start is an accelerated route that includes OU level 2 modules in Stage 1. It’s particularly suitable if you have A level or Scottish Higher qualifications in mathematics or physics.

The advanced start begins with the OU level 1 modules Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) and Physics and space (SM123). Check you’re ready for MST124 and SM123 at the following links:

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to an OU level 1 module. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It’ll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won’t have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
  • Our current fee for 30 credits at undergraduate level is £1,614* and for 60 credits it’s £3,228*.
  • Our current fee for 30 credits at postgraduate level is between £1,125* and £1,315* and for 60 credits it’s £2,630*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would start from £24,438*.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Laboratory schools

This qualification has modules with optional laboratory schools, for which you must pay an additional charge (see module descriptions for further information). You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we may replace face-to-face events with online alternatives.

Ways to pay for your qualification

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options include Part-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship.

Visit our Fees and funding page for a summary of the funding options available.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you.


How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.


Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials

Tutorials throughout the course could be online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Assessment

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.

Exams

  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance; you’ll need to attend one of our many exam centres in the UK or Europe.
  • All exams taking place before 31 December 2023 will be remote exams that you will complete at home or at an alternative location.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

Skills for career development

By the time you achieve your qualification, you’ll be an adaptable graduate with a range of transferable skills highly valued in the labour market. Examples include analytical, numerical, communication, team-working, and problem-solving skills. You’ll also gain proficiency in computing and IT, including the use of a programming language. In addition, you’ll acquire first-hand research skills through the independent research project on a topic at the forefront of the discipline and demonstrate the originality of your research or interpretation.

You’ll have a good understanding of where your strengths and interests lie and be well prepared for your next step – whether it’s further study or employment.

Career relevance

Physics graduates are suited to scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach for physics study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment. So physics graduates – particularly those with good communication and interpersonal skills – are in demand. And the MPhys qualification is commonly regarded as a pre-requisite for starting a postgraduate research degree.

Employers include engineering companies, renewable energy companies, central government, the financial sector, IT companies, the NHS, and universities – in roles such as:

  • research and investigation
  • product design and development
  • analysis and diagnostics
  • information management
  • data analysis and processing
  • scientific sales
  • medical physics
  • computer programming and modelling
  • teaching.

Potential growth areas are energy and sustainability, healthcare, telecommunications, bioinformatics, technology transfer (transfer of scientific expertise to commercial products), and the space sector.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our Careers and Employability Services for a wide range of careers information, advice and guidance – including online forums, our comprehensive website, access to interview simulations and feedback, and a vacancy service, as well as the option to email or speak to a Careers and Employability Consultant.

In the meantime, if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point.

Note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

  • aerospace engineer
  • astrophysicist
  • computer programmer
  • data analyst
  • geophysicist
  • medical physicist
  • meteorologist
  • nuclear engineer
  • patent attorney
  • physicist
  • renewable energy specialist
  • science communicator
  • science teacher
  • software engineer
  • university lecturer.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 11/08/2022
Credit transfer: apply by 08/12/2022

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