Fact file - 2017 entry
Type and duration:3 year UG
Qualification name:Mathematical Physics
Mathematical Physics | BSc Hons
3 years full-time
Maths and physics.
36 (6 in maths, plus 6 in physics and 6 in a third subject all at Higher Level)
University Park Campus
185 places for all courses in the School of Physics and Astronomy
This course provides a thorough education in theoretical physics and associated mathematical topics.
Read full overview
This course provides a thorough education in theoretical physics and associated mathematical topics, and involves a specially tailored combination of mathematics and physics modules. In years one and two, the foundations of the two subjects are laid down. You will then study topics chosen from a wide range for a further year.
In this year, you will gain a basic grounding in physics and mathematics, including mechanics special relativity, electromagnetism and quantum theory, mathematical modelling, calculus, linear mathematics and mathematical reasoning, along with an introduction to scientific computing.
In this year, you will learn the core elements of the classic theories of physics: electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermal and statistical mechanics, and optics. In parallel, you will learn the mathematical language in which these theories are expressed, such as vector calculus and Fourier analysis. In addition, various option modules are possible depending on your interests and the modules you wish to take in year three.
In this year, you will study solid-state physics and elementary particles, as well as choosing from a wide range of topics which extend and apply the core theories and methods learned in the first two years. You will also carry out a project in either mathematics or physics.
See also the School of Mathematical Sciences
and the Mathematical Physics website
A levels: A*AA-AAA, including mathematics, physics and one other academic subject at A level, or equivalent, excluding general studies, critical thinking and citizenship studies.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
Students who require extra support to meet the English language requirements for their academic course can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) to prepare for their future studies. Students who pass at the required level can progress directly to their academic programme without needing to retake IELTS. Please visit the CELE webpages for more information.
For details see alternative qualifications page
Flexible admissions policy
We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.
Notes for applicants
Scholarships - we offer a range of scholarships designed to assist you in settling in to your studies and meeting the financial requirements of your course. Some of these are means-tested but we also offer special scholarships that reward academic achievement.
One is offered on the basis of performance in the qualifying examinations for university entrance (eg A levels). A scholarship package is also offered to reward good performance in the qualifying (first-) year examinations. This scheme includes special prizes that have been inaugurated in collaboration with our commercial partners. Full details of all scholarship prizes will be provided at the UCAS open days.
For more details about scholarships, please see www.nottingham.ac.uk/physics
Typical Year One Modules
Analytical and Computational Foundations
This year-long module will introduce you to three core concepts and techniques that underpin all maths modules in your degree. These are mathematical reasoning – the language of maths and providing concrete proof of your theories, an introduction to computing, and basic analysis methods.
On this year-long module you’ll bring together all A-level work. In the first semester you’ll practice using the basic concepts and methods of calculus including limits, functions, continuity, Taylor series and Laplace transforms. In the second semester you’ll move onto more advanced usage of calculus. Topics will be based around the calculus of functions of several variables and include partial derivatives, chain rules, the vector operator grad, Lagrange multipliers and multiple integrals. This module is taught in two sessions of one hour lectures per week, you’ll also have problem classes and tutorial support.
This year-long module will introduce you to the methods and practices that you’ll need in subsequent modules on your course. Complex numbers, vector algebra and matrix algebra are established first. You’ll then expand your knowledge to include vector spaces, linear transformations and inner product spaces. This knowledge will equip you with the tools needed for the rest of your studies.
From Newton to Einstein
This year-long module aims to introduce core topics in physics which will underpin all subsequent physics modules. You’ll discuss classical mechanics in the language of vectors and the key notion of harmonic motion which is extended to cover wave phenomena. You’ll have an introduction to Einstein's special theory of relativity as well as the basic ideas of electromagnetism and electrical circuits and quantum physics.
This year-long module will train you in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. You’ll be trained in topics such as basic statistics and errors, dimensional analysis, curve sketching, orders of magnitude and estimates and integrating problems in physics among others. You’ll have an hour per week of lectures plus a number of 90 minute workshops throughout the year to assist in your learning.
Typical Year Two Modules
In this module you’ll build on the foundation of knowledge gained from your core year one modules in Computational and Analytical Mathematics and Calculus. You’ll also be introduced to new topics such as limits and the continuity of function among others. You’ll learn to follow a rigorous approach needed to produce concrete proof of your workings. There’ll be two one-hour lectures and a problem class fortnightly studying this module.
The module introduces the vector differentiation operations of gradient, divergence and curl, develops integration methods of scalar and vector quantities over paths, surfaces and volumes, and relates these operations to each other via the integral theorems of Green, Stokes and Gauss. You’ll have two one-hour lectures each week as well as a problem workshop per fortnight.
Thermal and Statistical Physics
In this year-long module you’ll learn about the two main themes relating to the description of important physical properties of matter; thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. You’ll discover that they share common features through two hours of lectures weekly and four workshops throughout the year.
Optics and Electromagnetism
This year-long module begins with an introduction to optics, the study of light. You’ll cover a wide range of topics taking part in practical sessions to aide your learning. You’ll then cover topics relating to electromagnetism such as the treatment of dielectric and magnetic media among others.
Differential Equations and Fourier Analysis
In this module you’ll be introduced to Fourier series and integral transforms including methods of solving linear ordinary and partial differential equations. You’ll explore the wide-ranging use of the Fourier series and methods in applied mathematics. You’ll spend three hours per week in lectures and workshops, along with one problem-solving class fortnightly to aide your learning.
Typical Year Three Modules
Advanced Quantum Theory
In this module you’ll apply the fundamental theory you learnt in year 2 to more advanced problems and new topics will be introduced. A number of topics relating to the general theory of relativity will also be explored.
Atoms, Photons and Fundamental Particles
In this year-long module you’ll be introduced to the physics of atoms, nuclei and the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. You’ll gain knowledge about the quantum mechanical description of their interactions. Every week, you'll have two hours of lectures; you'll also have five 90-minute workshops throughout the year to aide your understanding.
Introduction to Solid State Physics
In this year-long module you’ll be introduced to solid state physics. You’ll explore the topics of bonding, crystal structures, band theory, semi-conductors, phonons and magnetism among others. You’ll apply theoretical ideas to the quantitative analysis of physical situations. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures, plus five 90 minute workshops throughout the year.
In this module you'll carry out a project drawn from one of several areas of physics, the project will be theoretical or computational in nature. You'll work in pairs and have regular meetings with a staff supervisor to advise on the project and monitor your progress.
In this module you’ll have an introduction to Einstein’s theory of general and special relativity. The relativistic laws of mechanics will be described within a unified framework of space and time. You’ll learn how to compare other theories against this work and you’ll be able to explain new phenomena which occur in relativity. You’ll have four hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Typical Optional Modules
Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:
Force and Function at the Nanoscale
This module will provide an introduction to how forces at the nanoscale are radically different to those observed in macroscopic systems and how they can be exploited in nanometre-scale processes and devices. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and have two practical workshops during the semester.
Symmetry and Action Principles in Physics
In this module you’ll learn the basic aspects of the mathematical language of symmetry and apply them to a range of physical phenomena. You’ll explore the physical laws, principles and techniques relating to this topic through one hour of lectures and two hours of workshops weekly.
In this module you’ll explore the theoretical aspect of atmospheric physics. Topics will include planetary atmosphere, troposphere, solar radiation and the Energy budget, radiation transfer and Photochemistry among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week studying this module.
In this module you’ll explore the physical processes involved in extreme and explosive high-energy events known in astronomy and the relative importance of different processes in different situations. You’ll make models of extreme astrophysical sources and environments based on physical theory. You’ll also learn to interpret observational data according to relevant physical theory. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics
In this module you’ll have an introduction to theoretical aspects of the standard model of particle physics. You’ll learn about ideas such a symmetry and conservation laws through a number of different topics including relativistic notation, relativistic particles, Feynman diagrams and discrete symmetries among others. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Modelling Chaos and Disorder
This module introduces advanced concepts and methods used in analysis of models employed for understanding of behaviour of classical and quantum mechanical systems with random parameters, or exhibiting chaos in their dynamics. The methods introduced in this module have applications in a wide range of topics in applied mathematics and mathematical physics. You’ll have a weekly two-hour lecture.
Mathematical Medicine and Biology
In this module you’ll learn that mathematics can be applied to a wide range of applications in medicine and biology. You won’t need any prior knowledge of biology as the foundation of this module stems from the Modelling with Differential Equations module in year two of your studies. There is considerable emphasis on model building and development relating to topics such as the spread of disease, the growth of tumours and biological oscillations among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week along with two hours of example or problem classes studying this module.
Light and Matter
This module will extend previous work in the areas of atomic and optical physics to cover modern topics in the area of quantum effects in light-matter interactions. Some basic material will be introduced in six staff-led seminars and you’ll have around two hours of lectures and student-led workshops each week.
Introduction to Cosmology
In this module you’ll be introduced to modern cosmology – the scientific study of the Universe as a whole. Topics will cover recent observations and theoretical developments including Friedmann models, the thermal history of the Big Bang and classical cosmological tests among others. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures along with a couple of workshops to assist your learning whilst studying this module.
Quantum Coherent Phenomena
This module will introduce you to a range of physical phenomena which exhibit macroscopic quantum coherence including Bose condensation in cold atomic gases, superfluidity in Helium-4 and superconductivity in metals and alloys. You’ll discuss their common features and general theoretical ideas as well as some of their applications. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.
You will have a thorough grounding in the fundamental principles of physics and mathematics, and experience of the application of mathematical techniques to theoretical physics. A combination of intellectual rigour, numeracy and problem solving will prepare you for employment in areas ranging from research and development in industry to the financial sector.
The Institute of Physics accredits bachelor and integrated masters degree programmes for the purposes of the professional award of Chartered Physicist. Chartered Physicist requires an IOP accredited degree followed by an appropriate period of experience during which professional skills are acquired.
An accredited bachelor degree partially fulfils the academic requirement for Chartered Physicist status. Further study to masters level, or equivalent work-based experience, is required to achieve Chartered Physicist.
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2014, 87% of first-degree graduates in the School of Physics and Astronomy who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £23,046 with the highest being £30,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2013/14.
Careers Support and Advice
Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.
Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.
Fees and funding
Scholarships and bursaries
The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help.
There are several types of bursary and scholarship on offer. Download our funding guide or visit our financial support pages to find out more about tuition fees, loans, budgeting and sources of funding.
To be eligible to apply for most of these funds you must be liable for the £9,000 tuition fee and not be in receipt of a bursary from outside the University.
* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.
The University of Nottingham provides information and advice on financing your degree and managing your finances
as an international student. The International Office offers a range of High Achiever Prizes
for students from selected schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.
studying at the site where MRI was developed
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.