Why study physics?

A science student looking through a microscope

To study physics at university is to understand how the Universe behaves. You’ll use experiments, mathematical analysis and observation to try and answer some of life’s big questions, such as “How did the Universe begin?” and “Why does time have a direction?”. Physics is so vast that there are a number of branches you could specialise in, leading to careers ranging from researcher, meteorologist, engineer and consultant.

Fields of physics

Some of the fields of physics are:

  • Cosmology - the study of the Universe’s origin, evolution and eventual fate.
  • Nuclear physics - the study of atomic nuclei and other forms of nuclear matter.
  • Particle physics - the study of the nature of particles that make up matter and radiation.
  • Quantum mechanics - the study of a fundamental theory that describes the behavior of electrons, protons and other particles that make up the Universe.

Benefits of studying physics

There are a variety of reasons to study physics at undergraduate level:

Be part of technological advances

Without physics we would not have any of the life-saving technology we take for granted; X-rays, MRI scanners and radiation therapy. Equipment that saves lives every year only exists today because of physics. There are also opportunities to be involved in even bigger, more advanced technological projects, such as space science, with nearly all aspects reliant on physics.

Intellectual challenge

Although physics has a reputation for being difficult, one of the values of studying physics is that it is often challenging, but in return it is extremely rewarding. You will face new questions and obstructions that will often require you to figure out an answer or solution and more often than not, you will be attempting to prove your own theories and hypotheses.

Understand the Universe

Physics centres around understanding the world. You will learn about matter and energy, study planets and galaxies and discover the workings and limitations of nature’s laws. You will see the Universe in a different light, understanding how it behaves and discovering hidden laws that explain the motion and behaviour of matter.

Why study physics at Durham University?

With one of the leading physics and astronomy departments in the UK, Durham University is the perfect place to study BSc (Hons) Physics.

You will have the advantage of learning through research-led teaching, which encourages you to make the connection between what you learn in class and what it translates to in the real world.

During the three-year degree, you will learn the foundations of physics, with practical and theoretical modules and will be able to choose from a wide range of topics and specialisms as the course progresses.

You will be able to take advantage of the modern, well-equipped Department of Physics building. It features excellent facilities and state-of-the-art technology for you to use throughout your degree, including four modern computer-controlled telescopes.

Key skills – from studying physics

Studying physics will give you a variety of transferable skills that will help you succeed in physics and many other career paths:

  • Analytics
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Organisational
  • IT and numeracy
  • Research

What physics degree can I study at Durham University?

If you are looking to follow a physics path after a foundation year, BSc (Hons) Physics provides an ideal route to a variety of careers and opportunities. This three-year degree focuses on the foundations of physics and lets you choose specific modules from a variety of areas, such as Introduction to Astronomy.

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

International students looking to study a physics degree at Durham University can prepare themselves with our International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering. It will give the academic, English and study skills needed to succeed while studying a physics degree.

You will study a range of modules that include core modules covering academic English skills and core foundation maths and chemistry. You will also study designated modules that relate to your chosen physics degree.

Physics degree jobs

With a physics degree from Durham University you will have a number of career and further education options available to you. Whether you want to continue your education with a Masters degree or follow a research role, you will have plenty of opportunities.

Some of the careers in physics you could follow include:

  • Research scientist
  • Nanoscientist
  • Medical physicist
  • Environmental scientist
  • Lab technician
  • Laser engineer
  • Technical specialist
  • Metallurgist
  • Geophysicist

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of studying physics?

Studying physics provides a deep understanding of the fundamental laws governing the universe, develops analytical and problem-solving skills, and opens doors to diverse career opportunities.

Is studying physics difficult?

While studying physics can be challenging, it is ultimately a rewarding and engaging subject for those with a passion for investigation and discovery.

Are physics jobs in demand?

Yes, there is a demand for professionals with physics expertise in various industries. Physics-related skills are highly valued in the modern technological and scientific landscape.