You will acquire a broad knowledge of physics, while developing your expertise in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Taught by leading experts, you will learn: the skills required to manipulate and visualise individual atoms and molecules using scanning probe microscopy; how forces at the nanoscale differ from those observed in macroscopic systems; and what strategies should be used to build nanoscale molecular machinery. You will also have the opportunity to undertake a major research project.
The degree follows the same syllabus as the Physics MSci programme with an introduction to nanoscience and other cutting-edge research provided by the Frontiers in Physics module.
In year two you will again pursue the same core as for the MSci Physics course but will also take the Force and Function at the Nanoscale and Molecular Bio- and Nanophysics modules (which replace two of the optional modules of the core course).
The third year adopts the same core physics as MSci Physics, but with modules in imaging and manipulating nanostructures, and self-assembly and self-organisation.
As in the final year of all our MSci programmes, there are no examinations, with assessments carried out on the basis of mini projects, presentations and similar. The synoptic element is targeted towards subjects of interest to nanoscientists, with modules on image processing and analysis, and advanced scanning probe, electron and optical microscopes. You will also undertake a major research project in a topical area of nanoscientific research.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Typical Year Three Modules
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.
In this module you’ll develop your knowledge of quantum theory with a focus on how quantum systems evolve over time. You’ll enhance your knowledge of mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics as well as introducing important physical models and calculation techniques. You’ll cover the dynamics of operators and wavefunctions which can be applied to time-dependant problems. These ideas will then be used to explore some of the quantum dynamical properties of the harmonic oscillator and the two-level system. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week plus two ninety-minute workshops 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. 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.
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.
Typical Year Four Modules
Physics Research Project
In this year-long module you’ll aim to solve a theoretical or practical problem. You’ll spend semester one researching your chosen project and carry out your practical research in semester two. You’ll have the opportunity to work with external parties such as an industrial laboratory, school or hospital if appropriate to your topic. You’ll see your supervisor for one hours per week in tutorials to assist you during this module.
Science Technology and Business
This module will introduce you to the importance of, and the processes involved in the commercialisation of science and technology. The content of the course is highly relevant in the current climate where Government is placing much evidence on the wealth creation process. You’ll have 11 ninety minute lectures plus 2 one-hour tutorials to cover material in 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.
Typical Year Optional Modules
Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Imaging and Image Processing
This module aims to provide you with a working knowledge of the basic techniques of image processing. The major topics covered will include: acquisition of images, image representation, resolution and quantization, image compression and non-Fourier enhancement techniques, among others. You’ll spend around four hours in lectures, 8 hours in seminars and have a one hour tutorial each week.
You will have a sound knowledge of physics and the field of nanoscience and will be well prepared for collaborative research ventures.
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 integrated masters degree fulfils the academic requirements for 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.