If you wish to study physics to the highest level, Oxford has everything to offer. You will receive an exceptional grounding in the foundations of modern physics, guided by academics conducting world-class research.
Physics at Oxford
There are two physics degree courses to which you can apply: a three year BA and a four year MPhys. Students hoping to continue with a career in physics or a physics-related industry should expect to complete the four year course.
The first two years are largely prescribed and are common to both BA and MPhys courses. Short options, and major in the later years, are available so you can tailor your University experience towards the aspects of physics that interest you. Students who wish to focus on the more mathematical and theoretical aspects of physics can apply to a MMathPhys course at the end of their third year; it is not possible to apply to enter this course directly.
Preliminary University examinations are taken at the end of the first year. They do not count towards your final classification but a distinction in the first year is well regarded by research groups and employers offering summer internships. Final examinations, which count towards your degree classification, are taken at the end of the second, third and fourth years. In addition, project work undertaken during the final year is assessed as part of your Finals mark. It is on the basis of your Finals result alone that the Honours Degree is awarded. For BA candidates, the second and third years are weighted roughly 41%: 59%. For the MPhys candidates, the second, third and fourth years weights are approximately 23%: 35%: 42%.
The Course and the College
At Oxford, academic responsibilities are divided between the University and the College; in this respect, physics is like other subjects at Oxford. The lectures are arranged by the University’s Physics Department and students from the different Colleges attend them together. Similarly, the examination preparation and laboratory work are provided by the Physics Department; and only the University may award degrees. On the other hand, the Colleges are the admitting body and weekly tutorials and other support are a College matter.
Your accommodation is arranged through the College, and most students take their meals in the College’s 17th century Hall. Your immediate social circle will probably be centred around the College and your friends will have a wide variety of academic interest, not be restricted to your own pursuit. The College has a wide variety of sports and activities, mirroring those organised at a University level. A distinguishing feature of Jesus College is its proud support of students’ extra-curricular activities and boasts a tradition of providing bursaries for small research projects, community initiatives and even adventurous travel ideas.
Every student has at least one tutorial a week and in the first year there are two tutorials each week. From the beginning, you should expect to demonstrate on a daily basis intelligence, self-motivation, problem solving and critical reasoning.
Tutorials may be in pairs or small groups, but sometimes you will have tutorials on your own. Such close attention to your academic success is one of the great advantages of studying at Oxford. The fourth year needs specialist teaching so the Physics Department arranges classes with experts.
At Jesus College there are three permanent tutorial fellows in physics who are regularly joined by two or three external tutors to help cover the broad remit of the physics degree. This has helped Jesus College students achieve excellent results, regularly amongst the best in the University cohort. Their purpose is to guide you through the course, to ensure you advance at a pace of which you are capable, and to help everyone enjoy their academic emergence into the widest possible choice of career.
Typically, the tutor will set work one week in advance, to be completed, handed-in, then described and discussed during the next tutorial. Students are encouraged to bring to the tutorial any problems that have been encountered. Furthermore, the tutor is there to help during stressful times and talk though choices and decisions as they present themselves.
John Magorrian is a fellow and tutor in physics, teaches advanced mathematics, quantum mechanics and flows. His research focuses on astrophysics, specifically galaxy dynamics, supermassive black holes and the interstellar medium.
Yulin Chen is a fellow and tutor in physics whose teaching focuses on statistical mechanics. His research interests are in the development of photoemission spectroscopy to study the electronic structure of new types of quantum matter.
Malcolm John is a fellow and tutor in physics who teaches mathematics, relativity and particle physics. He works in particle physics, specialising in studies of the heavy flavour quarks and leptons.
The deadline to submit your application for undergraduate study via UCAS is 16 October (please note that this date is usually 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). Please refer to the University’s webpages for detailed information on how to apply.
Places available at Jesus College
In the annual Jesus College entry of about 100 undergraduates, 8 are offered places to read physics.
Academic requirements for this subject can be found here.
The specific selection criteria are given on the department’s website here.
All candidates must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) as part of their application. Separate registration for this test is required and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered by the deadline of 29 September 2023. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to prepare for the PAT by doing many past papers, which can be found on the Physics Department website.
You do not need to submit any written work as part of an application for this course.
The Tutors can in principle offer a place to a candidate who wishes to defer entry for a year, provided this intention is made known at the outset. You must apply for deferred entry at the time of application to Oxford: you cannot change your mind after an offer has been made.
You should be aware that applicants who are offered places for deferred entry will generally be among the very strongest, and the College limits its offers of deferred places in order not to disadvantage candidates applying in the following year. In some cases, an applicant for deferred entry may be offered a place for non-deferred entry instead.
There are no Joint Schools for Physics offered at Jesus College.
Research in the Department of Physics is organised in six sub-departments:
- Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics
- Atomic and Laser Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Particle Physics
- Theoretical Physics
They organise D.Phil recruitment directly. All Oxford physics graduates either go onto further study (at Oxford or elsewhere) or find immediate employment in an enormous variety of careers. About 40% continue with higher degrees and Oxford physicists are in strong demand in almost all professions that require numerate problem-solving skills (IT, finance, technical industry, consultancy, etc.).
The College’s friendly atmosphere ensures that new students meet and network with those in higher years as well as the graduate students that are hosted by the College. Graduate students conduct research in the Physics Department in preparation for their doctorate degrees in physics. Many of these graduate students were Jesus College undergraduates so can be an excellent source of experience and advice.
Please use the links below for further information: