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Programme Specification: Part III Physics

This is a full-time course, organised and mainly taught by the Department of Physics. Some in-house courses are taught by staff from other Departments, such as Earth Sciences, the Institute of Astronomy, Addenbrookes Hospital, and the Judge Business School. Some courses are borrowed from NST Part III Materials, Part III of the Mathematical Tripos and Part IIB of the Engineering Tripos. All students make choices from Major and Minor Topics.


  1. to expose students to a wide range of areas of physics at a level which will give them a critical understanding of current research;
  2. to give all students experience of research by carrying out an original project, often at a level capable of publication;
  3. to provide what is needed to proceed to research or other activity in physics (and other sciences) at the highest international standards.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should

  1. have had experience of a number of broad areas of physics from a choice of options, taken to an advanced level, at which current research can be appreciated in some depth;
  2. have carried out a substantial independent research project, experimental or theoretical work, or both;
  3. maintained their skills in and critical understanding of core physics;
  4. have further developed communication skills especially in writing up the project and in presenting it to their peers or research group;
  5. be ready to undertake research work in physics at the highest level.

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures, supervisions and examples classes, supervised project work and report writing, and, in some cases, supervised project work outside the Department. Unexamined teaching provided includes lectures on Philosophy of Physics and Ethics in Physics.


Assessment for this course is by

  • unseen examinations on three or more of the Major Topics, taken at the start of the Lent Term (for aims 1 and 3 and learning outcomes 1 and 5);
  • unseen examinations on three or more of the Minor Topics, normally taken at the start of the Easter term (for aims 1 and 3 and learning outcomes 1 and 5);
  • a General Physics Paper, taken towards the end of the Easter term (for aim 1 and learning outcome 3);
  • an Interdisciplinary paper or papers, in which candidates may choose to be examined in the Interdisciplinary subjects offered across Part III of the Natural Sciences Tripos (for learning outcome 1).
  • oral examination of the Research Project (for aims 2 and 3 and learning outcomes 2, 4 and 5).

It may also include oral assessment of an External Project work taken in lieu of one Minor Topic, and coursework assessment of the Entrepreneurship course, also taken in lieu of one Minor Topic.

Courses of Preparation

Essential: NST Part II Physics

The detailed entry requirements can be found at The Fourth Year - Part III.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.