Physics study guide 2023/24

Physics at Bristol

The School of Physics is right at the heart of the University of Bristol precinct, and benefits from a suite of practical teaching laboratories dedicated to undergraduate students. You can choose from a range of general and specialist subjects, taught in a world class research environment by specialists working in many different fields of physics.

Unit structure

The school offers many classes that are based in a single semester, and can therefore accept unit requests from Study Abroad students who want to join Bristol for just the autumn or spring semester.

Unit levels

The school offers units across all undergraduate levels of study – Year 1 (Level C/4), Year 2 (Level I/5), and Year 3 (Level H/6) – and selected postgraduate units (Level M/7). Level M/7 units are normally taken by students who have studied the subject for at least 3 years beforehand and are at an appropriate level of study to take postgraduate units.

Unit codes

Unit codes in the School of Physics begin with 'PHYS'. This is followed by a number indicating the year (1, 2, 3). For example:

  • PHYS10000 = year 1 unit
  • PHYS20000 = year 2 unit
  • PHYS30000 = year 3 unit
  • PHYSM0000 = Postgraduate level

For more information about each unit, check the University's unit catalogue for 2023/24. Applicants on all study abroad programmes must review the unit details on the catalogue before listing unit choices on their application form. This includes checking the format of assessment for each unit. The unit catalogue for 2023/24 is updated by April 2023.

Your unit choices cannot be guaranteed. Some units may not have capacity to accommodate all of the unit requests we receive. Registration on a unit also depends on whether you meet the pre-requisite conditions through prior study at your home university.

Study Abroad (Subject pathway)

If you have been nominated to Bristol on the Study Abroad (Subject pathway), you must take the majority of your credits in this department.

Project units

If you want to take a project unit you should contact the School ( in advance of their arrival to check if this will be possible and to check topics and availability. If you plan to take a third or fourth year project unit, you will need to study with us for a full academic year.

  • Industrial Group Project (TB4) - PHYS30007
  • Physics Project 333 (TB4) - PHYS39330

Units available on the study abroad programme in 2023/24

The following units from the School of Physics are open to inbound Study Abroad students.

Year 1 (level C/4)

All Year 1 units begin in September.


  • Stars and Planets 106 (TB2) - PHYS10600


  • Core Physics I: Classical, Quantum and Thermal Physics (TB4) - PHYS10012. This is a new unit and will be updated on the unit catalogue in April.

Year 2 (level I/5)


  • Mathematical Physics 202 (TB1) - PHYS23020 
  • Mechanics, Oscillations and Quantum Mechanics I (TB1) - PHYS20028 
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics (TB1) - PHYS22040 


  • Cosmology 201 (TB2) - PHYS24010 
  • Electromagnetism, Waves and Quantum Mechanics II (TB2) - PHYS20029
  • Thermal Physics (TB2) - PHYS20027

Year 3 (level H/6)


  • Biophysics 321 (TB1) - PHYS31211 
  • Quantum Physics 301 (TB1) - PHYS32011 
  • Solid State Physics 3021 (TB1) - PHYS30021 
  • Particle Physics (TB1B) - PHYS32012. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 7-12)
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution 301 (TB1B) - PHYS34013. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 7-12)


  • Analytical Mechanics (TB2) - PHYS30008
  • Environmental Physics (TB2) - PHYS30027
  • Materials Physics (TB2) - PHYS30025
  • Methods of Theoretical Physics 3 (TB2) - PHYS30015 
  • Condensed Matter Physics 311 (TB2C) - PHYS31111. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 13-18)
  • Galaxies 301 (TB2C) - PHYS34011. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 13-18)
  • High Energy Astrophysics 301 (TB2D) - PHYS34012. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24)
  • Nanophysics (TB2D) - PHYS32600. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24)


  • Industrial Group Project (TB4) - PHYS30007 
  • Computational Physics 301 (TB4) - PHYS38012
  • Physics Project 333 (TB4) - PHYS39330 

Year 4 (level M/7)


  • Advanced Quantum Physics  (TB1A) - PHYSM3416. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 1-6)
  • The Physics of Gas and Plasma in the Universe (TB1A) - PHYSM3409. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 1-6)
  • Applied Materials Physics (TB1B) - PHYSM0045. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 7-12)
  • Magnetism and Superconductivity (TB1B) - PHYSM0038. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 7-12)


  • Semiconductor Device Physics and Technology (TB2) - PHYSM0048.
  • Relativistic Field Theory (TB2C) - PHYSM3417. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 13-18)
  • General Relativity and Cosmology (TB2D) - PHYSM1900. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24)
  • Surface Physics (TB2D) - PHYSM0007. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24)
  • The Physics of Phase Transitions (TB2D) - PHYSM0300. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24)
  • Theoretical Particle Physics (TB2D) - PHYSM0800. This runs for half of the semester (weeks 19-24) 


  • Foundations of Modern Physics (TB4) - PHYSM0023
  • Student Seminar 431 (TB4) - PHYSM3100 

Suggested unit combinations

We recommend that you choose units from one year level, rather than a combination of different levels, wherever possible. This is to reduce the chances of timetable clashes.

Application queries

Contact the Centre for Study Abroad inbound team if you have any queries about the application process for the study abroad programmes:

Phone: +44 117 39 40207


Students cannot audit units. Study abroad students are fully registered on units for credit purposes and must attend teaching only for classes that they are registered on.

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