Fact file - 2018 entry
Physics with Astronomy | BSc Hons
3 years full-time (available part-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 degree provides a broad knowledge of theoretical and experimental physics and astronomy.
Read full overview
You will undertake projects in astronomy, either using the school's optical telescopes or its radio telescopes, or analysing data brought in from state-of-the-art facilities like the Hubble Space Telescope. Theoretical project work can make use of the school's astrophysical supercomputing facilities.
This degree follows the same syllabus as the BSc Physics course with an introduction to astronomy and other cutting-edge research provided by the Frontiers in Physics module.
Again, you will pursue the same core as BSc Physics, but with astronomy modules, The Structure of Stars and The Structure of Galaxies, replacing two of the options in the BSc Physics degree.
The final year adopts the same core physics as BSc Physics, but with modules entitled Extreme Astrophysics and Cosmology replacing two of the options. This still leaves plenty of flexibility for you to choose other optional modules; you might, for example, choose one in the related field of theoretical particle physics. You will also undertake a year-long astronomical research project.
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)
If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English. Successful students can progress onto their chosen degree course without taking IELTS again.
For details please see the alternative qualifications page
Flexible admissions policy
In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy
. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures
for more information.
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.
The Sir Peter Mansfield scholarship 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. 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
From Newton to Einstein
This year-long module will introduce core topics in physics that underpin all subsequent physics modules. You’ll cover classical mechanics in the language of vectors and the key notion of harmonic motion, which is subsequently extended to cover wave phenomena. You’ll also gain an introduction to Einstein's special theory of relativity, quantum physics, and the basic ideas of electromagnetism.
Introductory Experimental Physics
In this module you will receive: an introduction to the basic techniques and equipment used in experimental physics; training in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data; opportunities to observe phenomena discussed in theory modules and training in the skills of record keeping and writing scientific reports.
Frontiers in Physics
This module introduces you to major areas of physics beyond those encountered in the core modules, including those at the forefront of modern research. Particular focus is placed on introductions to astronomy, biophysics and nanoscience. Other topics include condensed matter physics, atomic and particle physics and the physics of the environment.
Mathematics for Physics and Astronomy
You will study a selection of mathematical techniques that are useful for analysing physical behaviour. The module topics are: complex numbers, calculus of a single variable, plane geometry and conic sections, ordinary differential equations, calculus of several variables and matrices and matrix algebra.
Computing for Physical Science
In this year-long module you’ll learn the techniques for solving physical problems. Topics will include variables and operators, vectors and arrays and plotting 2D and 3D graphs among others.
The Structure of Stars
This module will develop your knowledge of the various physical processes occurring in stars of different types. You’ll use this knowledge to build both mathematical models and your qualitative physical understanding of stellar structure and evolution will be enhanced. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
The Quantum World
This module will provide an introduction to the theory and applications of quantum mechanics, a theory that is one of the key achievements of 20th century physics. This module will begin with a discussion of simple systems and develop the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. The module will then extend the formalism to cope with the movement of particles and make links to the material that you have seen in the 'From Newton to Einstein' module.
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 practical workshops throughout the year.
In this module, you are introduced to the concepts of scalar and vector fields, and introduced to the mathematics of vector calculus that can be used to describe these fields. The mathematics will then be used to provide a framework for describing, understanding and using the laws of electromagnetism.
The Structure of Galaxies
This module will develop your current understanding of the various physical processes that dictate the formation, evolution and structure of galaxies. You’ll explore a number of topics including The Milky Way, The Dynamics of Galaxies, Active Galaxies and Galaxy Evolution among others. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying this module.
Typical year three modules
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 two two-hour workshops to assist your learning whilst studying this module.
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 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.
You will carry out a project drawn from one of several areas of physics. The project may be experimental, theoretical or computational in nature. Many of the projects reflect the research interests of members of academic staff. You’ll work in pairs and will be expected to produce a plan of work and to identify realistic goals for your project. Each pair has a project supervisor responsible for setting the project.
Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:
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.
From Accelerators to Medical Imaging
In this module you’ll learn about the radiation source and detectors with a focus on those used in medical imaging applications. You’ll be introduced to the experimental techniques of nuclear physics and their applications in medical diagnosis and therapy. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
This module aims to provide you with the skills necessary to use computational methods in the solution of non-trivial problems in physics and astronomy. You’ll also sharpen your programming skills through a three hour computing class and one hour of lectures per week.
Functional Medical Imaging
The techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) are explored. You’ll be introduced to the brain imaging technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), giving an overview of the physics involved in this technique. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures.
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.
Imaging and Manipulation at the Nanoscale
This module will introduce you to the basic ideas of scanning probe microscopy and the way in which scanning probe systems such as scanning tunnelling microscopes (STM) can be used to carry out nanoscale manipulation of solid surfaces. Throughout the course images from the current research literature will be introduced to inform you of the range of possible applications of these techniques. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Radiation is a term which can cover many different phenomena and in the public eye radiation can often be seen as a danger. In this module you will learn how physicists can harness the health benefits of using radiation, as well as measuring and controlling levels of radiation in the environment. You’ll examine the biological effects of radiation and the principles which govern safe exposure limits. Around two hours per week will be spent in lectures supplemented by student-led workshop sessions.
Principles of Dynamics
In this module you’ll be introduced to the mathematical language for discussing extreme problems. The formulations of mechanics due to Lagrange and Hamilton will be described and techniques for the solutions of the consequent equations of motion will be discussed. You’ll learn the underlying principles of dynamics and develop techniques for the solution of dynamical problems. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
This module will explore the structure of molecules of biological importance and their mutual interactions and dynamics. Emphasis will be placed on the physical determination of molecular structure and intermolecular forces. Furthermore, techniques to study dynamics on the molecular level will be discussed.
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.
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. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.
You will develop a thorough understanding of physics and astronomy, both through study and practical work. You will be prepared for employment in a range of areas, as well as for a career as a professional astronomer or physicist.
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 2015, 93% of first-degree graduates from 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 £25,389 with the highest being £40,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.
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.
The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.
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. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.
Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.
* 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.
Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 40 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.
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.
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