From Newton to Einstein
This year-long module aims to introduce core topics in physics which will 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.
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.
This year-long module will train you in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. You’ll cover 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.
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 places recent research developments in the context of first year physics and introduces you to major areas beyond those encountered in the core modules. 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.
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 per week 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.
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 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.
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 with five 90-minute workshops throughout the year to aid 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 of lectures per week plus five 90-minute workshops throughout the year.
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.
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, eight hours in seminars and have a one hour tutorial each week.
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.
This module introduces you to the key ideas behind modern approaches to our understanding of the role of inflation in the early and late universe, in particular through the formation of structure, the generation of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the origin of dark energy. You’ll study through a series of staff lectures and student-led workshops.
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 original 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.
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.
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 workshops during the semester.
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.
Symmetry and Action Principles in Physics
Symmetry is a powerful notion, both in the development of theories of physical phenomena and in the solution of physical models. In this module the basic aspects of the mathematical language of symmetry will be introduced and applied to a range of physical phenomena, and the principle of least action, introduced in The Principles of Dynamics module, will be further developed.
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 two-hour workshops to assist your learning whilst 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.
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.
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 as 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.
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.
Magnetic Resonance Techniques
In this module you’ll receive an overview of spin dynamics and an introduction to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and related techniques. You’ll gain knowledge about the key ideas, techniques and instrumentation used in this field and how they are applied in a range of situations. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
This module provides an introduction to the modern theory of gravitation: Einstein's general theory of relativity. This module is based on a regular series of two one-hour lectures per week supplemented by a two-hour workshop once a fortnight.
The Perception, Philosophy, and Politics of Physics
What is physics? More broadly, what is science? And what is it about the scientific method that has made it so successful in explaining the world, and the Universe, around us? These types of question are covered in this module. But you also go beyond philosophical musings to cover key aspects of the history and sociology of science. These play an essential role in determining just how the politics surrounding scientific research and data plays out.
Research Techniques in Astronomy
This module develops a range of modern astronomical techniques through student-centered approaches to topical research problems. You’ll cover a range of topics related to ongoing research in astronomy and astrophysics, and will encompass theoretical and observational approaches. This module is based on individual and group student-led activities involving the solution of topical problems including written reports and exercises, and a project.
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.