University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Choosing or Changing a Programme of Study

The Physics degree programmes have been designed to allow students considerable freedom to select combinations of modules which match their interests. This choice can be exercised either by transferring to another programme during, or soon after, the Stage 1 year, or through the options and electives available within the programmes in later stages.

It is normal for some students to change to a different programme within the Physics at the end of Stage 1; for example, from BSc Physics to MPhys Physics. There are several reasons why a student might decide to change programme in this way – an important consideration is to maximise their interest and enjoyment by studying a set of modules that best suits them.

Whichever programme is taken, in the majority of cases there will be additional flexibility within the programme as to the choice of modules. For example, students on the Physics BSc (F300) and MPhys (F303) programmes may choose as options modules that are a compulsory part of the Physics with Astrophysics programmes. When making these decisions, students have the opportunity to tailor a programme to their own requirements.

Details of the various programmes and modules are published in the Physics Handbook.

Transfers Between Physics Single Honours Degree Programmes

Students on Single Honours programmes have entered the Physics Department choosing a particular degree programme, but the first stage is largely common to all, and transfer is possible at the end of Stage 1.

Students considering transfer should:

  1. discuss the idea with their tutor;
  2. talk to the appropriate Student Co-ordinator about the nature of the degree programmes and particularly if the new programme involves study abroad or a professional experience placement year;
  3. complete a change of programme form which may be obtained from and returned to the Education Support Office.

Students may transfer from an MPhys programme to the equivalent BSc programme at any time during the first two stages. Transfers from BSc to the equivalent MPhys programme is subject to the availability of places and must be agreed by the University and the relevant awards/loans organisations notified. Some organisations need to be notified before the first day of the second academic year to ensure funding for the Stage 4 year.

Programmes with Study Abroad

Transfers into programmes with study abroad have to be restricted because there are a limited number of fee-exchange places available at the host institutions. Refer to:

for details of the deadline for receipt of transfer applications, how places are allocated and when successful transfer applications are approved.

Transfers from Combined Honours

Students on Combined Honours programmes may be allowed to transfer into one of the Single Honours degrees during Stage 1. In addition to discussing such a change with the people mentioned in the list above, they should also discuss the matter with the CH Mathematics Programme Director.

Mathematics Modules

It is difficult to overstate the importance of mathematical skills to students studying physics. In particular, the modules and projects that are specific to MPhys programmes assume familiarity with all of the material in mathematics modules PHY1026 and PHY2025. Students who have not scored at least 60% on these modules must be prepared to do a significant amount of catch-up work on mathematics over the summer vacation. Students who are unable to get their mathematics up to an appropriate level are unlikely to get full benefit from the MPhys programme and are advised to transfer to a BSc at the end of Stage 2.

Options and Electives

The options and electives (under the enhanced modularity scheme) allowed by each programme are tabulated in its Programme Specification. The University may permit students to register for options and electives that are not permitted within the standard programmes offered by the Department of Physics by transfering to the Flexible Combined Honours programme. In such cases students will be required to agree with the Department and Faculty a new degree title so that their final qualification will not be confused with our accredited programmes.

Students must not register for optional or elective modules which specify pre/co-requisites unless they have the correct qualifications or, in exceptional circumstances, the written agreement of the module instructor.

It is the student's responsibility to check whether their choice of elective module involves a timetable clash and, if so, that they: (a) can still comply with any attendance requirements, and (b) will be able to organise their affairs so that they can catch up with any missed work.

Students must not seek to obtain unfair academic advantage by registering for options or electives which are an at inappropriate level for their Stage, duplicate substantial parts of other modules that they have taken, or will take, as part their degree.

Some Physics modules have limits on the number of students who can take them in a given year. In such cases students will be registered in the following order of priority:

  1. Physics Students where it is a required part of their programme that year,
  2. Physics Students who will be unable to take it as an option in future,
  3. One year students with a majority of credits in Physics,
  4. Physics students who are not retaking,
  5. Physics Students who are retaking with attendance and have not previously taken the option,
  6. Students from other disciplines,
  7. Students who are retaking with attendance and have previously taken the option.

Students who feel that their case for taking the option has special merits not recognised by the above criteria can appeal to the Director of Education whose decision will be final.

University Deadlines for Changes to Option Choices

Module change requests should be sent to

Students have until the end of the second week of term to request any changes to their module selection within that specific term. Module changes (or programme changes that require module changes) will not normally be permitted after this time.

In the event that a student wishes to drop a term 1 module (after the second week of term) to be replaced by a term 2 module, it will be entirely at the College’s discretion, and will usually only be considered if no substantial assessments have been completed on the term 1 module.

These changes to module selections are always requests and whether Colleges will be able to register students to these modules is conditional on whether the selection fits within the students programme specification, it will not result in timetable clashes and that the capacity limit of the module has not been exceeded.

Colleges will not normally permit a change of module if the student has completed any summative assessments on that module.

Credit Totals

In normal circumstances, full-time undergraduate students must register for modules as specified on the appropriate programme specification totalling 120 credits at each stage. Departures from this formula require Faculty approval in each case.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)