What can I do with a physics degree?

Physics graduates have all the right skills that employers need

Adam Powell, Physics student in a lab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physicists have shaped the modern world in which we live and humankind’s continued curiosity to understand nature is driving the subject forward into new and fascinating realms.  So perhaps it may seem strange that people ask, 'what can I do with a physics degree?' However, the question is relevant as it can sometimes appear that a physics degree is for the Feymans, Einsteins and Hawkings of this world. The truth is far different and you don’t have to be a genius to study physics (of course it helps!).  There is every chance that by studying physics you can make a significant contribution to the field, or alternatively use your physics degree as the basis for rapidly progressing on another career path.

Beyond research and teaching

Whilst many physics students are inspired to continue their studies at postgraduate level and beyond, a large majority of graduates find that their Physics degree has equipped them for a world outside of physics too.  Where many people think that once you start studying a physics degree the only future career options are in research or teaching, the facts show that many physics graduates work in business, manufacturing, finance and IT, as well as having the ability to excel in fields within engineering, medicine and the other natural sciences. It is this diversity that actually makes studying physics so appealing; you have the ability to diversify and the skills you have developed studying physics can be applied widely and are in high demand.

Physics graduates are highly employable – and well paid!

Physics degrees are challenging - you need an enquiring mind driven by a natural curiosity for how things work and the desire to be able to solve problems. During a physics degree you will develop a very strong grasp of scientific principles, mathematical and logical thinking to solve complex problems, and critical thinking to analyse outcomes. These are the same skills that make you a very employable graduate.  At Swansea University, your choice of physics degree can also get you a thorough grounding in a wide range of complementary talents such as computational programming, maths, electronics,  project design and instrumentation.  In addition, we develop essential employability skills including diversity, ethics, team work, communication, CV writing and interview techniques. These are embedded into the physics modules for you to develop and enhance during your course.  In surveys and Institute of Physics reports, physics graduates command starting salaries which are above the graduate average. Those completing 4-year MPhys schemes tend to command higher salaries than 3-year BSc schemes, and achieving a physics degree make you more likely to be employed than the overall graduate population.

Invaluable work placements

 Georgina Jackson, one of our recent graduates, has just started her career at QinetiQ in their Radar and Electronic Warfare department. Georgina believes that the work placement she did during her degree was invaluable in helping her to get her current role.

 

 Georgina Jackson

 ‘I was placed in the McLaren Technology Centre in Barcelona in the powertrain (hybrid) department, working on helping to develop a new dual clutch system. I utilised the skills I had learned through my time studying physics at the university, including the use of programmes such as Matlab and Simulink, and machine learning.’

Not only did Georgina have a wonderful time living and working in Barcelona, but she believes that ‘the physics knowledge I have gained over the last four years by working on engineering and problem solving projects will prepare me for my new role.’

Engineering careers

Another recent graduate – Lowri Galea, is about to start her career at Atkins as a Systems Engineer in their Aerospace, Defence, Security and Technology department. Lowri enjoyed that she could do her dissertation on a topic directly linked to systems engineering.  Lowri Galea

A physics degree gives you a broad understanding of engineering and the problem-solving skills that you need as an engineer, without you having to make an early decision about whether to be an aerospace, civil, electronic or mechanical engineer. Swansea's Engineering department have a significant number of academics whose first degree was in physics, including many brilliant ones(!) who have come through Swansea Physics, e.g. Dr Rowan Brown.

Medicine

 Physics graduate Cerys Jenkins is currently working on her PhD – this time in the field of medical physics. Cerys says

I am trying to create a diagnostic tool for colorectal cancer. It’s amazing to think we are bringing techniques together for the first time and they might end up making a real difference to people. 

Theoretical physics and medical research are not normally seen together but my physics degree gave me the freedom to move between disciplines and work in an area I am passionate about.’

Physics graduates often work in healthcare in radiology and nuclear medicine departments by following their physics degree with an IPEM accredited postgraduate masters. Additionally the analytical and mathematical skills of physicists are desirable for big data challenges such as those found in data science and health informatics.

Careers support at Swansea

The University supports students with their future career and further study choices with a range of initiatives.

Our physics academics also like to promote new opportunities via a Swansea Alumni physics group on LinkedIn, which you can join  during your degree to help you network and inspire you to prepare for life after your degree.  Additionally, working alongside our award winning Physics Society, the department hosts an annual physics career event for our students.

Recent Swansea Physics graduate job destinations

Whilst many of our graduates continue with further study, others enter graduate employment.  A snapshot of recent areas include:

  • Demand Forecaster (First Utility)
  • Graduate Manager (Lloyds Banking Group)
  • Trainee Clinical Scientist (The Christie NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Electromagnetic Signature Analyst (QinetiQ)
  • Recruitment Consultant (M D L Howarth Ltd)
  • Cost Draftsman (Asons Solicitors)
  • Trainee (FDM Group)
  • Patent Examiner (Intellectual Property Office)
  • Engineer (British Nuclear Fuels)
  • Aerospace Engineer (General Dynamics UK)
  • Regional Sales Manager (Newport Corporation)
  • Research Fellow (National Physical Laboratory)
  • Software Engineer (Logica)

Useful links

Book a Swansea University Open Day

Institute of Physics – Career Directions

Prospects

Brightrecruits.com – Jobs for Physics and Engineering graduates