Physics and Astrophysics

We have been teaching physics and astrophysics in Preston for over 190 years and continue to produce graduates ready to make their mark in the world. Discover our Institute of Physics accredited courses in Physics, Astrophysics and Mathematical Physics.

Our history

We trace our physics and astronomy heritage back to Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639. He made the first successful prediction and observation of a Transit of Venus from central Lancashire.

In 1993 we established The Jeremiah Horrocks Institute. Through this we bring together over 50 academic staff, research fellows and students from across the world in an intellectually vibrant atmosphere.

What we do today

Being a physics student at UCLan comes with a range of exciting opportunities. You can get involved in active research, industry placements and interesting projects.

The sky was no limit for our final year students as they sent a high altitude balloon 100,000 ft above the surface of the Earth. This project tested instruments and materials intended for use in space travel.

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Who we are

Throughout your studies, you're taught by our passionate team of experienced, research-active lecturers. With their strong history of developing students on an individual level, you are in the best place to achieve your potential.

Professor Derek Ward-Thompson
Head of School
School of Engineering and Computing

Derek teaches across a rage of subjects in Physics and Astrophysics. His particular expertise lies in the fields of star and planet formation, as well as interstellar magnetic fields, from the most diffuse regions of space to the dense environments around the event horizons of bl…

Dr Paul Freeman
Senior Lecturer
School of Engineering and Computing

I am the Course Leader for Physics and Astrophysics on site courses. In my role as a Lecturer I lecture physics, and foundation year mathematics, as well as supervise final year projects. My research interests include strongly correlated electron materials such as superconductor…

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What our students say

I feel that whenever I’ve needed to, I have been able to contact my tutors for extra support and guidance to help me keep on track. The staff are very involved in my progression.
Mathematical Physics student Callum McGovern
Callum McGovern
BSc (Hons) Mathematical Physics
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Careers in Physics and Astrophysics

Graduates of physics and astrophysics are amongst the most employable in the world and are in particularly high demand for technical and business sectors, where analytical and mathematical skills are at a premium.

We're proud to have a broad range of successful alumni with UCLan physics graduates working at high profile businesses such as BAE and NASA.

Physics degree jobs 

Studying physics could lead to a future career in:

  • Industry
  • Government research institutes
  • Overseas laboratories and observatories
  • Financial institutions
  • Scientific journalism

Why choose us?

  • We are ranked 1st for academic support and 6th for overall positivity in the UK in the National Student Survey 2023 (compared with unis in the Guardian University Guide).
  • Our Alston Observatory is one of the largest, best-equipped teaching observatories with £200,000 recent investment in the most powerful modern telescope available in the UK. The observatory’s 20+ telescopes are used weekly by Year 1 students on all degrees.
  • Physics and Astronomy is ranked 2nd in the North West for student satisfaction (Complete University Guide, 2024).
Sound interesting?

Get to know us

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group of students walking outside once was lost in preston

Study a degree at UCLan

Interested in studying a degree with us? From exploring accommodation to visiting us at an Open Day, find out everything you need to know about life at UCLan.