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Course Structure – Physics at Cambridge

1st year
Courses Four courses are taken:

Teaching methods: Lectures, Practicals, Suupervisions, Examination
2nd year
Courses Core material, including courses on:

Teaching methods: Lectures, Practicals, Suupervisions, Examination
3rd year
Courses Specialise in 1 selected subject for in-depth study. Alternatively students may opt for a more generalised course :

Assessment  Examination, Completion of degree
4th year
Research FAny of the following subjects can be followed
into a fourth year:

Assessment / Teaching Methods  

  • Research Project & novel Experimental study + dissertation
  • Oral Viva Exam
  • Advanced Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Develop skills in critical analysis and appraisal
  • Examination
  • Completion of M.Sci degree.

Cambridge: At Cambridge, Physics is part of the Natural Sciences Degree (NatSci). In Year 1 (Part IA), Natural Science students can take Physics as one of their three experimental sciences.  In the second year (Part IB), two Physics courses are on offer. Physics A covers mainly quantum mechanics and solid-state physics, Whereas Physics B covers the core of classical physics, including electromagnetism, dynamics and thermodynamics. Those intending to specialise in Physics usually take both of these courses, but this is not a requirement for proceeding to the third year. Often, NatScis heading for other specialisms take just one of these two.  In the Third and Fourth years, you can specialise completely in Physics. At the end of the fourth year you graduate with an MSci and are also awarded a BA. More advanced courses cover a broad range of experimental, theoretical and computational subjects and students can begin to choose whether to concentrate on more experimental or theoretical work.


In the fourth year, student have the opportunity to carry out a research project in an area of particular interest. Building on the skills developed in the first three year, students will apply the ideas and concepts to solve problems, make calculations, make predictions and rationalize trends to critically evaluate information and data from the primary research front. The year culminated with an oral examination and presentation of your dissertation to a panel of experts, both internal and external. Many students may then go on to continue this work as part of a PhD.