Wind turbines generating green energy at sea


Find out about the range of course options in Physics

Why Study Physics?

Understanding how the oceans work is key to predicting how our planet is going to respond to our warming climate. It is also important if we are to efficiently harness the huge but largely untapped potential of renewable tidal energy. By studying the physics of the ocean, you will learn about how the ocean works and interacts with other elements of the Earth System, the atmosphere and cryosphere. You will also learn about how to observe the ocean, both from ships and from space, and to develop numerical models for the prediction of the ocean. 

You will gain the tools to be able to tackle important problems linked to climate change and to extracting energy from the ocean.

Career Opportunities in Physics

Graduates in ocean physics / physical oceanography are in great demand.  We have been teaching Ocean Physics for over 50 years and our past students have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, directors of the major UK Oceanographic laboratories and managing directors of major commercial oceanographic companies. Many hold posts in the marine industries, particularly in consultancy companies that provide services in oceanography to the marine renewable, defence and oil industries, as well as offshore engineering operations. There are further opportunities in Government Laboratories and agencies with responsibility for the management and prediction of estuarine and coastal waters, such as the CEFAS and the Met Office. Many of our graduates have also continued to higher degrees and an academic career.

Our Research in Physics

Our research focuses on understanding of how the ocean works and interacts with the other components of the Earth System. In particular, our research has led to a step change in our understanding of the continental shelf seas and their role in the Earth System. This includes identifying the factors controlling the partitioning of these seas, and identification of key mechanisms regulating dispersion of freshwater in estuaries and coastal seas.

Current research aims at improving climate and weather predictions, with particular focus on the role of the tides and their evolution over Earth History. We have identified a "super tidal cycle" linked to plate tectonics and the potential role of tides on an early Venus in creating a habitable planet.

Current research also focuses on the extraction of renewable energy from the ocean, particularly associated with the tides, and the potential impacts of energy extraction.

Our research is underpinned by the development and application of state-of-the-art numerical modelling and observational techniques. In particular, we have been at the forefront of developing methods for measuring turbulence in the marine environment for over two decades.

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