Physical Sciences

Physicists are involved in the mathematical based research of energy and atoms, which are found in solids, liquids and gases, known as matter, to support the understanding of space and our surroundings, through theoretical, technical and engineering solutions.

Work Activities

Physicists are highly qualified, often to Doctorate (PhD) level and are involved in research or employed in a range of industries including robotics, astronomy, engineering, architecture, technology, business and finance and may work in laboratories, offices and some work may take place outdoors and involve working with clients or research funding bodies.

Duties may include:

  • developing and resolving complex theories, calculations, algorithms and problems
  • space, matter and energy research
  • technical and data analysis, report writing and presentations
  • writing bids for research funding
  • presenting and teaching
  • computational design and modelling
  • creating engineering and computational products and software solutions

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for physicists

  • strong technical problem solving skills
  • highly numerate and analytical
  • ability to interpret and present data
  • risk analysis
  • leadership
  • excellent written and verbal communication
  • strong organisation and project management skills
  • ability to work in a team
  • flexible and willing to work in different locations
  • strong IT and programming skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of physicists

  • engineering companies
  • mining companies
  • energy and utility companies
  • water companies
  • environment and sustainability agencies and consultancies
  • government departments and agencies
  • telecommunication companies
  • space agencies and observatories
  • research institutes
  • universities
  • finance and technology companies
  • armed services


Qualifications and training required

Excellent GCSE/ Higher results in Maths and Physics are required.

A Level/ Advanced Higher Maths and Physics are required by most universities to study Physics and related degrees. Additional science, maths or geography may be required for some associated programmes.

BTEC Engineering and Science courses may be accepted at Merit and Distinction level.

Entry to postgraduate courses can be gained through studying undergraduate degrees in Physics/ Astrophysics, Engineering, Geology, Geophysics, Maths and Computer Science.

Many jobs and research positions require postgraduate qualifications at masters and PhD level.

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