Fact file - 2014 entry
Type and duration:3 year UG
A level offer: A*AA-AAA
Required subjects: physics and maths at A level
IB score: 6 in maths, plus a 6 and 5 in two subjects at Higher Level, one of which must be physics
Available part time: yes
Course places: 155 places for all courses in the School of Physics and Astronomy
Campus: University Park Campus
This degree provides you with a broad knowledge of physics, while developing a range of skills that are highly valued by employers. Building on the core physics programme, you will study a range of specialised optional modules delivered by research scientists who are at the forefront of developments. You can further tailor your degree by taking modules in areas such as languages or business skills.
You will build up your knowledge of the subject through modules in the core elements of physics. You will also develop the mathematical skills needed to speak the language of advanced physics, and carry out laboratory work to provide the background you need in experimentation and computation. You will also have the flexibility to select options in physics or elsewhere in the University in each semester.
The first-year modules lead into more advanced areas of the subject such as statistical physics and quantum mechanics. Similarly, you will have the opportunity to develop the core practical skills learned in the first year to undertake more advanced laboratory work, making frequent use of computer control in your experiments. Once again, you will be able to select options in each semester.
In the first half of the third year, you will finish off the core physics syllabus. Almost the entire second semester is then available for you to pursue those areas of the subject that interest you most, with options offered in everything from theoretical particle physics to medical imaging. You will also undertake a year-long research project with a member of staff.
A levels: A*AA-AAA, including physics and maths at A level
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
TOEFL iBT 87 (minimum 19 with 20 in speaking)
For details see the 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 inaugarated in collaboration with our commercial partners. Full details of all scholarship prizes will be provided at the UCAS open days.
Each year we also offer scholarships to well-qualified international applicants. These are worth approximately £2,500 in each year of study.
For more details about scholarships, please see www.nottingham.ac.uk/physics
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.
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. There will be four hours of lectures and a one hour tutorial weekly plus 2 two-hour workshops throughout the year.
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 using MatLab. Topics will include variables and operators, vectors and arrays and plotting 2D and 3D graphs among others. You have a mix of three hour-long lectures, and a number of computer workshops lasting between ninety minutes and three hours throughout the year.
Typical Year Two Modules
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, the description of fields will be extended by introducing the mathematics of vector calculus. The mathematics will then be used to provide a framework for describing, understanding and using the laws of electromagnetism. You’ll spend two hours in lectures and have a 90 minute workshop each week.
Many physical systems support the propagation of waves, from the familiar waves on the surface of water to the electromagnetic waves that we perceive as light. The first half of the module will focus on optics: the study of light. Topics to be covered will include: geometrical optics; wave description of light; interference and diffraction; optical interferometry. The second half of the module will introduce more general methods for the discussion of wave propagation, and Fourier methods.
Intermediate Experimental Physics
In this module you will develop your experimental technique and gain experience of some key instruments and methods. The experiments will cover electrical measurements, optics and radiation. You will also learn how to use a computer to control experiments and to record data directly from measuring instruments.
Typical Year Three Modules
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. You’ll have two hours weekly of lectures with 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.
Physics Project A
You will carry out a project drawn from one of several areas of physics. The project may be experimental or theoretical 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.
Typical Optional Modules
Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:
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.
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.
Soft Condensed Matter
This module will introduce you to the key concepts in soft condensed matter physics with a focus on the dynamic, structural and kinematic properties of materials falling into this category. You’ll also cover the phenomenology of phase transitions. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
In this module you will develop your knowledge of classical mechanics of simple linear behaviour to include the behaviour of complex nonlinear dynamics. You’ll learn about the way in which nonlinear deterministic systems can exhibit essentially random behaviour because of sensitivity relating to initial conditions. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
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.
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.
This module introduces you to the physical properties of semiconductors and low-dimensional systems, such as quantum wells, wires and dots. The aim is to explain the physics that underlies optical and transport properties of these structures and their applications in advanced technologies. This course is structured in two main parts; the foundation of quantum mechanics and solid state physics needed to describe a low dimensional system. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures.
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.
Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics
You’ll be introduced to the key theoretical ideas of elementary particle physics, such as symmetry and conservation laws, and build the foundations for a mathematical description of particle properties and interactions. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures.
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.
You will have a sound knowledge of the fundamental theories of physics and how to apply them to practical problem solving, and you will be well-prepared for a career in research, as a professional physicist, or for other high-flying positions in a wide range of areas.
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 2012, 95.3% 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 £21,742 with the highest being £36,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates, 2011/12.
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.
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 International Office provides support and advice on financing your degree and offers a number of scholarships to help you with tuition fees and living costs.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.