Natural Sciences
   
   
  

Physics, Geography and Mathematical Sciences

Natural Sciences is a multidisciplinary degree which allows you to study three subjects in the first year and continue with two subjects in the second and third year. The combination of subjects which you study in the first year allows you to find out what each subject is like at university before you specialise further. You will also have the opportunity to explore specialist areas through optional modules as you progress through the course. Both of the subjects taken beyond the first year will be studied to degree level. This degree aims to provide you with a broad knowledge and understanding of your chosen areas of science, as well as experience of interdisciplinary study.

Year One

You will study 40 credits of each subject from your chosen three-subject pathway.

Physics


40 compulsory credits:

From Newton to Einstein (40 credits, full year)
This module aims to provide students with a rigorous understanding of the core concepts of physics at an introductory level. The module underpins all other physics modules in all years.
 
 

Geography


30 compulsory credits:

  • Earth and Environmental Dynamics (20 credits, full year)

This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:

  • hydrological cycles
  • principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
  • fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology
 
  • Tutorial (10 credits, full year)

Small group tutorials in both the autumn and spring semesters in which emphasis will be placed on discussion, essay writing and seminar presentations which will be based on topics in the qualifying year geography modules and from broader intellectual, cultural and political fields.

 

 

10 credits from the following:

  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (10 credits, Autumn semester)

The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.

It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

 
  • Physical Landscapes of Britain (10 credits, Autumn semester)

This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:

  • Development of life over geological time
  • Environmental changes over geological time
  • Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be suppliednearer the time of the trip)
 
  • On Earth and Life (10 credits, Spring semester)

On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.

It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.

 
 

Mathematical Sciences


40 compulsory credits:

Analytical and Computational Foundations (20 credits, full year)
This module introduces students to a broad range of core mathematical concepts and techniques. It has three components.
  • Mathematical reasoning (the language of mathematics, the need for rigour, and methods of proof).
  • The computer package MATLAB and its applications.
  • Elementary analysis.
 
Calculus and Linear Algebra (20 credits, full year)

The module consolidates core GCE mathematical topics in the differential and integral calculus of a function of a single variable and used to solving some classes of differential equations. Basic theory is extended to more advanced topics in the calculus of several variables. In addition, the basic concepts of complex numbers, vector and matrix algebra are established and extended to provide an introduction to vector spaces. An emphasis in the module is to develop general skills and confidence in applying the methods of calculus and developing techiniques and ideas that are widely applicable and used in subsequent modules.

Major topics are:

  • differential and integral calculus of a single variable;
  • differential equations;
  • differential calculus of several variables;
  • multiple integrals;
  • complex numbers;
  • matrix algebra;
  • vector algebra and vector spaces.
 
 

 

Year Two

You will continue on a pathway comprising of two of your first year subjects. You will take 60 credits of modules from each subject and greater emphasis will be put on studying outside of formal classes.

Physics


60 compulsory credits:

Compulsory with Biological Sciences

  • Classical Fields (20 credits, full year)
In the module From Newton to Einstein, you learnt about the idea of a field a quantity which is defined at every point in space. In this module, the description of fields will be extended by introducing the mathematics of vector calculus. The module will begin with an introduction to vector calculus, illustrated in the context of the flow of ideal (non-viscous) fluids. The math­ematics will then be used to provide a framework for describing, understanding and using the laws of electromagnetism. We discuss how electric and magnetic fields are related to each other and to electrical charges and electrical currents. The macroscopic description of electric fields inside dielectric materials and magnetic fields inside magnetizable materials will be described, including the boundary conditions that apply at material interfaces. The last section of the module will discuss Maxwells equations of electrodynamics and how they lead to the vector wave equation for electromagnetic waves.
 
  • Experimental Techniques and Instrumentation (20 credits, full year)

In this module students will receive:

  • an introduction to the the basic techniques and equipment used in experimental physics
  • training in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data
  • a basic practical introduction to geometrical and physical optics
  • opportunities to observe phenomena discussed in theory modules
  • training in the skills of record keeping and writing scientific reports
 
  • The Quantum World (20 credits, full year)
This module will provide an introduction to the theory and elementary applications of quantum mechanics, a theory that is one of the key achievements of 20th century physics. Quantum mechanics is an elegant theoretical construct that is both beautiful and mysterious. Some of the predictions of quantum mechanics are wholly counter-intuitive and there are aspects of it that are not properly understood but it has been tested experimentally for over 50 years and, wherever predictions can be made, they agree with experiment.
 


Compulsory with Mathematical Sciences

  • Experimental Techniques and Instrumentation (20 credits, full year)

In this module students will receive:

  • an introduction to the the basic techniques and equipment used in experimental physics
  • training in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data
  • a basic practical introduction to geometrical and physical optics
  • opportunities to observe phenomena discussed in theory modules
  • training in the skills of record keeping and writing scientific reports
 
Optics and Electromagnetism (20 credits, full year)
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 and optical interferometry. There will be a small number of practical sessions illustrating the ideas developed. The second half of the module will cover various aspects of electromagnetism including the treatment of dielectric and magnetic media, the propagation of electromagnetic waves and various techniques for the solution of electromagnetic problems.
 
  • Thermal and Statistical Physics (20 credits, full year)

Macroscopic systems exhibit behaviour that is quite different from that of their microscopic constituents studied in isolation. New physics emerges from the interplay of many interacting degrees of freedom. In this module you will learn about the important physical properties of matter and the two main approaches to their description. One, thermodynamics, treats macroscopically relevant degrees of freedom (temperature, pressure and so on) and find relations between these and the fundamental laws which govern them, independent of their microscopic structure. The other approach, statistical mechanics, links the macroscopically relevant properties to the microphysics by replacing the detailed microscopic dynamics with a statistical description. The common feature of both of these methods is the introduction of two macroscopic quantities, temperature and entropy, that have no microscopic meaning.

 
 

Geography


20 compulsory credits:

  • Techniques in Physical Geography (20 credits, full year)

This module presents the opportunity for hands-on experience of laboratory, field and surveying techniques in physical geography appropriate to the domain of interest of the participants. To achieve these aims all students participate in field projects on a residential field course, some of which are completed in the laboratory back in Nottingham, leading to an individual project.

In addition, you choose further laboratory techniques to investigate in the second semester. The ethical, safety and fieldwork limitations of geographical work are also considered.

 


20 credits from your chosen subpathway:

Physical Geography subpathway

  • Environmental Change (20 credits, full year)

This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments. 

 

Technical Geography subpathway

  • Digital Explorers (20 credits, full year)

This module provides a consideration of the following:

  • Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services 
  • Spatial data types and sources 
  • Vector processing algorithms 
  • Raster processing algorithms
  • Spatial analysis and decision making 
  • Professional training in ArcGIS 
 


Geoscience subpathway

Mineralogy and Petrology (20 credits, full year)

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the major different rock types and the principal rock-forming minerals from which they are made. The module will consider:

  • economic mineral deposits
  • hydrocarbon resources
  • environmental mineralogy, for example, radioactive waste management, shale gas
  • volcanology and volcanic hazards

Specifically the module will include discussion of:

  • major rock types and rock-forming; bulk materials
  • types of ore deposit, how they form, and the important ore minerals and critical metals
  • types of oil and gas reservoirs, traps, seals, burial diagenesis and hydrocarbon migration
  • environmental mineralogy and geochemistry, covering carbon capture and storage technology and radioactive waste management

The module will cover these issues theoretically and practically.

 

 

A further 20 credits from the options below:

  • Introduction to Desert Geomorphology (20 credits, full year)
Earth Observation (20 credits, full year)

This module provides a general introduction to the subject of earth observation. This involves analysing remotely sensed images, typically acquired from instruments on board satellites or aircraft, to investigate spatial phenomena on the Earth's surface.

Example topics include the use of global image data sets to investigate climate change, analysis of satellite sensor imagery to identify wildlife habitats and conservation concerns, and urban land use mapping from detailed aerial photography. Theoretical lectures cover the concepts underpinning remote sensing, including the physical principles determining image creation, fundamental image characteristics, methods of image analysis and uses or applications of earth observation.

There is also a strong practical component to the module, with regular practical exercises on various forms of digital image analysis.

 
Environmental Change (20 credits, full year)

This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments. 

 
Patterns of Life (20 credits, full year)

This module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are:

  • biodiversity patterns
  • island biogeography
  • biodiversity dynamics
  • speciation and extinction 
  • evolution
 
River Processes and Dynamics (20 credits, full year)

This module:

  • introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
  • describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
  • uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures

Topics covered include:

  • catchments and longitudinal patterns
  • river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
  • complex response in the fluvial system
  • flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
  • an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology
 
Sedimentology and Palaeontology (20 credits, full year)

The aim of this module is to introduce you to sedimentology/sedimentary geology (the study of sediments such as sand, silt and clay and the processes that result in their deposition) and palaeontology (the study of fossils, both animal and plant, and both macroscopic and microscopic).

You will be given a comprehensive course on these subjects and how they are used scientifically and industrially together with their impact on human society and the natural environment.

 
 

Mathematical Sciences


40 compulsory credits:

Modelling with Differential Equations (20 credits, full year)
This course aims to provide students with tools which enable them to develop and analyse linear and nonlinear mathematical models based on ordinary and partial differential equations. Furthermore, it aims to introduce students to the fundamental mathematical concepts required to model the flow of liquids and gases and to apply the resulting theory to model physical situations. This course leads to further study of mathematical models in medicine and biology and fluid mechanics. It also provides a foundation for further study of differential equations.
 
Vector Calculus (10 credits, Autumn semester)
This course aims to give students a sound grounding in the application of both differential and integral calculus to vectors, and to apply vector calculus methods and separation of variables to the solution of partial differential equations. The course is an important pre-requisite for a wide range of other courses in Applied Mathematics.
 
Differential Equations and Fourier Analysis (10 credits, Spring semester)
This course aims to introduce standard methods of solution for linear ordinary and partial differential equations and to introduce the idea and practice of Fourier series and integral transforms. The mathematical methods taught in this module find wide application across a range of courses in applied mathematics.
 


20 compulsory credits from your chosen subpathway:

Modelling 1 subpathway

  • Introduction to Scientific Computation (20 credits, full year)
This module introduces basic techniques in numerical methods and numerical analysis which can be used to generate approximate solutions to problems that may not be amenable to analysis. Specific topics include:
  • Implementing algorithms in Matlab;
  • Discussion of errors (including rounding errors);
  • Iterative methods for nonlinear equations (simple iteration, bisection, Newton, convergence);
  • Gaussian elimination, matrix factorisation, and pivoting;
  • Iterative methods for linear systems, matrix norms, convergence, Jacobi, Gauss-Siedel.
  • Interpolation (Lagrange polynomials, orthogonal polynomials, splines)
  • Numerical differentiation & integration (Difference formulae, Richardson extrapolation, simple and composite quadrature rules)
  • Introduction to numerical ODEs (Euler and Runge-Kutta methods, consistency, stability) 
 


Modelling 2 subpathway

  • Introduction to Mathematical Physics (20 credits, full year)
This course develops Newtonian mechanics into the more powerful formulations due to Lagrange and Hamilton and introduces the basic structure of quantum mechanics. The course provides the foundation for a wide range of more advanced courses in mathematical physics.
 
 

 

Year Three

You will continue with the same two subjects studied in the second year, taking 50 credits in each. Alongside subject-specific study, you will undertake a 20-credit synoptic module which aims to tie together the subjects you are studying through an interdisciplinary group project.

Physics


50 compulsory credits:

  • Natural Sciences Synoptic Module (20 credits, full year)
  • Physics Project (10 credits, Autumn semester)
  • Atoms, Photons and Fundamental Particles (20 credits, full year)
This module will introduce students to the physics of atoms, nuclei and the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. The module will also develop the quantum mechanical description of these. Topics to be covered are:
  • Approximation techniques first order perturbation theory, degeneracies, second order perturbation theory, transition rates, time-dependent perturbation theory, Fermi's golden rule
  • Particle Physics protons and neutrons, antiparticles, particle accelerators and scattering experiments, conservation laws, neutrinos, leptons, baryons and hadrons, the quark model and the strong interaction, weak interactions, standard model
  • Introduction to atomic physics review of simple model of hydrogen atom, Fermi statistics and Pauli principle, aufbau principle, hydrogenic atoms, exchange, fine structure and hyperfine interactions, dipole interaction, selection rules and transition rates
  • Lasers optical polarization and photons, optical cavities, population inversions, Bose statistics and stimulated emission, Einstein A and B coefficients
  • Nuclear Physics Radioactivity, decay processes, alpha, beta and gamma emission, detectors, stability curves and binding energies, nuclear fission, fusion, liquid drop and shell models.
 


20 compulsory credits from your chosen subpathway:

Compulsory with Biological Sciences

Thermal and Statistical Physics (20 credits, full year)

Macroscopic systems exhibit behaviour that is quite different from that of their microscopic constituents studied in isolation. New physics emerges from the interplay of many interacting degrees of freedom. In this module you will learn about the important physical properties of matter and the two main approaches to their description. One, thermodynamics, treats macroscopically relevant degrees of freedom (temperature, pressure and so on) and find relations between these and the fundamental laws which govern them, independent of their microscopic structure. The other approach, statistical mechanics, links the macroscopically relevant properties to the microphysics by replacing the detailed microscopic dynamics with a statistical description. The common feature of both of these methods is the introduction of two macroscopic quantities, temperature and entropy, that have no microscopic meaning.

 


Compulsory with Mathematical Sciences

Introduction to Solid State Physics (20 credits, full year)
This module will provide a general introduction to solid state physics. Topics covered include:
  • Bonding nature of chemical bonds, thermodynamics of solid formation
  • Crystal structures description of crystal structures, k-space, reciprocal lattice, Bragg diffraction, Brillouin zones
  • Nearly-free electron model - Bloch's theorem, band gaps from electron Bragg scattering, effective masses
  • Band theory Fermi surfaces, qualitative picture of transport, metals, insulators and semiconductors
  • Semiconductors - doping, inhomogeneous semiconductors, basic description of pn junction
  • Phonons normal modes of ionic lattice, quantization, Debye theory of heat capacities, acoustic and optical phonons
  • Optical properties of solids absorption and reflection of light by metals, Brewster angle, dielectric constants, plasma oscillations
  • Magnetism- Landau diamagnetism, paramagnetism, exchange interactions, Ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, neutron scattering, dipolar interactions and domain formation, magnetic technology
 
 

Geography


40 compulsory credits:

  • Natural Sciences Synoptic Module (20 credits, full year)
  • Environmental Informatics and Modelling (20 credits, full year)

This module will expose you to current practices, technologies and ideas existing at the forefront of environmental modelling. The module offers an opportunity for you to experience the theory and practice associated with key developments that are occurring in major modelling domains and the most recent advances from the research community. 

The module will comprise four parts:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Modelling the impacts of climate change 
  3. Modelling biogeography 
  4. Hydrology and hydroinformatics
 

 

20 compulsory credits from your chosen subpathway:

Physical Geography subpathway

20 credits from the options below:

Global Climate Change (20 credits, full year)

The module covers the following:

  • A review of modern climate systems and forcings
  • Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
  • Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public 
  • The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
  • Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
 
Quaternary Environments (20 credits, full year)

This module considers the quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, building explicitly on material covered in Environmental Change. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies.

The module is based on a 10 day residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. Full costs of the field trip will be advised nearer the time of the visit. The main elements are:

  • an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
  • critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments)
  • archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
  • quaternary history of the Yucatan
  • mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
  • exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change
 
  • River Management and Restoration (20 credits, full year)

This module further develops themes of river processes and dynamics introduced in the module River Processes and Dynamics, and considers them within the context of human attempts to manage and restore rivers. It initially centres on changes in the fluvial system that occur in response to river management and engineering and then goes on to examine approaches to restoring the natural functions of rivers that have been heavily degraded by human impacts.

The module includes reviews of past and present river channel restoration and rehabilitation activity in Europe and the USA. It details principles by which restoration practice is guided, and introduces criteria for selection between alternative strategies.

The module includes a residential field trip in semester two where students will have the opportunity to explore a range of river management and restoration issues relevant to rivers in the UK and develop practical skills in field survey and modelling techniques employed in contemporary river management.

 
  • Scale and Diversity in the Canary Islands (20 credits, full year)

The module involves the study of broad-scale patterns of diversity, endemism and evolution in the Canary Islands using secondary data made available and where necessary collected by students. Independent research by student research groups supported by lectures, training sessions, research development seminars, presentation and feedback sessions, and unlimited consultations with lecturers.

 


Technical Geography subpathway

Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual (20 credits, full year)

This module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive. Content is organised as follows:

Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain
Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes virtual globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), location-based services, and mobile geospatial apps.

Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments
Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, augmented and virtual realities.

 


Geoscience subpathway

  • Geological Hazards and Resources (20 credits, full year)

A geohazard is a natural process or phenomenon that has the potential to adversely affect humanity by endangering life or property. A geo resource is a substance or commodity that can be extracted from the subsurface for use by humanity. This module will spend one semester focussing on these two important issues for Environment and Society.

 


Optional geography modules

A further 10 credits from the options below:

  • Contaminated Land Site Investigation and Risk Assessment (10 credits, Autumn semester)
  • Introduction to Desert Geomorphology (10 credits, Spring semester)
Digital Explorers (10 credits, Autumn semester)

This module provides a consideration of the following:

  • Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services 
  • Spatial data types and sources 
  • Vector processing algorithms 
  • Raster processing algorithms
  • Spatial analysis and decision making 
  • Professional training in ArcGIS 
 
Foundations of Environmental Management (10 credits, Autumn semester)

This module provides a foundation for the scientific concepts and issues which underpin environmental management. Topics covered include climate-change impacts and mitigation, river channel processes and management, pure and applied research on biodiversity patterns and conservation.

 
Patterns of Life (10 credits, Spring semester)

This module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are:

  • biodiversity patterns
  • island biogeography
  • biodiversity dynamics
  • speciation and extinction 
  • evolution
 
River Dynamics (10 credits, Spring semester)

This module:

  • introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
  • describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
  • uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures

Topics covered include:

  • catchments and longitudinal patterns
  • river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
  • complex response in the fluvial system
  • flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
  • an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology
 
 

Mathematical Sciences


20 compulsory credits:

  • Natural Sciences Synoptic Module (20 credits, full year)


30 compulsory credits from your chosen subpathway:

Modelling 1 subpathway

  • Mathematical Medicine and Biology (20 credits, Autumn semester)
Mathematics can be usefully applied to a wide range of applications in medicine and biology. Without assuming any prior biological knowledge, this course describes how mathematics helps us understand topics such as population dynamics, biological oscillations, pattern formation and nonlinear growth phenomena. There is considerable emphasis on model building and development.
 
  • Game Theory (10 credits, Spring semester)
Game theory contains many branches of mathematics (and computing); the emphasis here is primarily algorithmic. The module starts with an investigation into normal-form games, including strategic dominance, Nash equilibria, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. We look at tree-searching, including alpha-beta pruning, the ‘killer’ heuristic and its relatives. It then turns to mathematical theory of games; exploring the connection between numbers and games, including Sprague-Grundy theory and the reduction of impartial games to Nim.
 

 

Modelling 2 subpathway

  • Coding and Cryptography (10 credits, Autumn semester)
This course provides an introduction to coding theory in particular to error-correcting codes and their uses and applications. It also provides an introduction to to cryptography , including classical mono- and polyalphabetic ciphers as well as modern public key cryptography and digital signatures, their uses and applications.
 
  • Differential Equations (20 credits, Autumn semester)
This course introduces various analytical methods for the solution of ordinary and partial differential equations, focussing on asymptotic techniques and dynamical systems theory. Students taking this course will build on their understanding of differential equations covered in MATH2012.
 

 

Optional mathematics modules

A further 20 credits from the options below:

  • Differential Equations (20 credits, Autumn semester)
This course introduces various analytical methods for the solution of ordinary and partial differential equations, focussing on asymptotic techniques and dynamical systems theory. Students taking this course will build on their understanding of differential equations covered in MATH2012.
 
  • Electromagnetism (20 credits, Spring semester)

The course complements others in the Waves Pathway by providing an introduction to electromagnetism and the electrodynamics of charged particles. The aims of this course are:

  • to develop an appropriate mathematical model of electromagnetic phenomena that is informed by observations;
  • to understand electromagnetic configurations of practical importance and to relate predictions made to everyday phenomena;
  • to illustrate the use of solutions of certain canonical partial differential equations for determining electrostatic fields and electromagnetic waves in vacuum and in matter;
  • to illustrate the interplay between experimental input and the development of a mathematical model, and the use of various mathematical techniques for solving relevant problems.
 
  • Fluid Dynamics (20 credits, Spring semester)
This course aims to extend previous knowledge of fluid flow by introducing the concept of viscosity and studying the fundamental governing equations for the motion of liquids and gases. Methods for solution of these equations are introduced, including exact solutions and approximate solutions valid for thin layers. A further aim is to apply the theory to model fluid dynamical problems of physical relevance.
 
  • Topics in Scientific Computation (20 credits, Spring semester)
 

 

Year Four (MSci students only)

You will choose one of your third-year subjects to focus on in the fourth year, spending half your time working on an independent research project aiming to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in research. Alongside the project you take taught modules in your main subject and if you wish to maintain some breadth you can also take options from your other third year subject.

Physics


60 compulsory credits:

  • Natural Sciences Physics Project (60 credits, full year)


Compulsory (if Introduction to Solid State Physics not taken)

Solid State Physics for Natural Sciences (20 credits, full year)
This module will provide a general introduction to solid state physics. Topics to be covered will include:
  • Fermi Dirac and Bose-Einstein Statistics, Fermi Wave-vector, temperature
  • Introduction to Fourier Transforms and Associated Techniques
  • bonding nature of chemical bonds, thermodynamics of solid formation
  • crystal structures description of crystal structures, k-space, reciprocal lattice, Bragg diffraction, Brillouin zones
  • Nearly-free electron model - Bloch's theorem, band gaps from electron Bragg scattering, effective masses
  • Band theory Fermi surfaces, qualitative picture of transport, metals, insulators and semiconductors
  • Semiconductors - doping, inhomogeneous semiconductors, basic description of pn junction
  • Phonons  normal modes of ionic lattice, quantization, Debye theory of heat capacities, acoustic and optical phonons
  • Optical properties of solids absorption and reflection of light by metals, Brewster angle, dielectric constants, plasma oscillations
  • Magnetism, Landau diamagnetism, paramagnetism, exchange interactions, Ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, neutron scattering, dipolar interactions and domain formation, magnetic technology
 


Minimum of 20 credits, maximum of 60 credits from the options below:

  • Atmospheric Physics (10 credits, Autumn semester)
From Accelerators to Medical Imaging (10 credits, Autumn semester)
The first half of this module will describe radiation sources and detectors, with particular reference to those used in the medical imaging applications described in the second half. It will include the physics of accelerators such as linacs, cyclotrons and synchrotrons, of detectors such as ionization chambers, scintillators and solid state detectors and of X-ray imaging, nuclear imaging and positron emission tomography (PET).
 
  • Introduction to Cosmology (10 credits, Autumn semester)
Cosmology is the scientific study of the universe as a whole. The module provides an introduction to modern cosmology, including some of the more recent observational and theoretical developments. No prior knowledge of General Relativity is required. Topics covered include: observed features of the universe, the Cosmological Principle, Newtoniaan and Relativistic cosmology, the Friedmann Models, cosmic expansion, the cosmological constant, evidence for the big bang model, the thermal history of the big bang, the early universe and inflation, the classical cosmological tests, structure formation (brief treatment only).
 
Soft Condensed Matter (10 credits, Autumn semester)
The aim of this module will be to give students a basic grounding in key concepts in soft condensed matter physics, with emphasis being placed on the dynamic, structural and kinematic properties of these materials. Key differences and similarities between soft matter, hard matter and liquid systems will be highlighted and discussed throughout the module. Material that will be covered includes:
  1. Introduction to Soft Matter
  2. Forces, energies and timescales in soft matter
  3. Liquids and glasses
  4. Phase transitions in soft matter (solid-liquid and liquid-liquid demixing)
  5. Polymeric materials
  6. Gelation
  7. Crystallisation in soft systems
  8. Liquid crystals
  9. Molecular order in soft systems
  10. Soft Nanotechnology
 
  • Extreme Astrophysics (10 credits, Spring semester)
To develop an understanding of high-energy phenomena in astrophysics and the relative importance of different processes in different situations.
To make models of extreme astrophysical sources and environments basedon physical theory.
To interpret observational data in the light of relevant physical theory.
 
  • Functional Medical Imaging (10 credits, Spring semester)
The techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) are explored. The course aims to introduce the brain imaging technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), giving an overview of the physics involved in this technique. The electromagnetic techniques of electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) will then be outlined, and the relative advantages of the techniques described.
 
  • Imaging and Manipulation at the Nanoscale (10 credits, Spring semester)
The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in the 1980s has led to a revolution in the imaging of surfaces and has provided an enormous stimulus for the development of nanoscience. The operation of a scanning probe microscope relies on the interaction between a local probe and a surface. A family of techniques has been derived from the STM which exploit a range of different forces and other interactions for image formation. The most widely-used of these techniques is atomic force microscopy which, unlike, STM, can be used to image insulating samples. In this module the focus will be on the development of physical models to describe the interaction between a local point-like probe and a surface. The operation of the STM will be considered in detail together with design considerations which are common across all scanning probe microscopes. In the second half of the course, forces between the tip and sample will be considered and methods for measuring these interactions will be discussed. The probe-surface interaction can also be used to modify the surface with a specificity which can result in placement of single atoms and molecules and these patterning processes will be discussed. Throughout the course images from the current research literature will be introduced to inform students of the range of possible applications of this these techniques.
 
Semiconductor Physics (10 credits, Spring 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 and their applications in advanced technologies.
This course is structured in two main parts. The first part focuses on the foundation of quantum mechanics and solid state physics needed to describe a low dimensional system. The module then moves on describing the physical principles of semiconductor junction and devices.
 
  • Quantum Coherent Phenomena (10 credits, Spring semester)
This module will introduce a number of systems in which quantum coherent phenomena are observed, discuss their common features and the general underlying theoretical ideas for their description as well as some of their applications.
  • Bose condensation review of Bose statistics, BEC, BEC in cold atomic gases.
  • Superfluidity in Helium-4 quantum fluids, macroscopic wave functions, superfluidity, non-classical rotational inertia and vortices, phonon and roton excitations.
  • Superconductivity conduction in metals, superconducting materials, zero-resistivity, Meissner effect, perfect diamagnetism, type I and type II behaviour, London theory.
  • BCS theory of superconductivity.- electron-phonon interaction, Cooper pairs, BCS wave function, order parameter and microscopic origin of GL.
  • Applications: squids, superconducting magnets etc.
 
  • Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics (10 credits, Spring semester)
To introduce the key theoretical ideas of elementary particle physics, such as symmetry and conservation laws, and to build the foundations for a mathematical description of particle properties and interactions.
 
 

Geography


60 compulsory credits:

  • Natural Sciences Dissertation (60 credits, full year)


Minimum of 20 credits, maximum of 40 credits from the following:

  • Statistical and Computational Problem Solving (20 credits, full year)
  • Geographical Research Methods (20 credits, full year)
This module is split into three major sections:
  • Quantitative methods: This section gives students an introduction to parametric and non-parametric statistics and the use of databases and statistical packages.
  • Social research methods: You receive an introduction to the philosophical and analytical issues that lie behind designing social research methods. A range of social research methods are considered in terms of their approach, design, implementation and analysis.
  • GIS: You receive an introduction to the technologies of GIS. They cover the design and operation of these systems and how they are used as decision support tools. The material also covers the concept of modelling and what issues the user must be aware of in evaluating model outputs.
 


Minimum of 20 credits, maximum of 40 credits from the following:

  • Lakes and Catchments in the Anthropecene (20 credits, full year)
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual (20 credits, full year)

This module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive. Content is organised as follows:

Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain
Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes virtual globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), location-based services, and mobile geospatial apps.

Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments
Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, augmented and virtual realities.

 
Quaternary Environments: Mexico Field Course (20 credits, full year)

This module considers the quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, building explicitly on material covered in Environmental Change. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies.

The module is based on a 10 day residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. Full costs of the field trip will be advised nearer the time of the visit. The main elements are:

  • an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
  • critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments)
  • archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
  • quaternary history of the Yucatan
  • mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
  • exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change
 
Spatial Decision Making (20 credits, full year)
The first part of the module covers the theory and practice of utilising Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for supporting spatial decision making. It reflects upon the broader discipline of Geographical Information Science (GI Science) before considering the importance of data quality, key spatial analysis tools and visualisation techniques. A group project (with individual critical reflection) focussing on a site suitability exercise forms the focus for the coursework in the autumn semester and the examination covers theoretical underpinnings.

The second part of the module extends the skills and knowledge gained in part one by applying them to a real world problem supplied by an external client (Experian). You will work in teams by responding to an invitation to tender, then developing a GIS-based solution to a problem supplied by Experian which will typically involve evaluating alternative locations for retail developments around Nottingham. Teams will plan their own meetings, manage the division of workload and ensure they are meeting the requirements of the client (but also exploring further possibilities that the client may not have considered).

 
 

Mathematical Sciences


60 compulsory credits:

  • Mathematics Project (60 credits, full year)


Minimum of 40 credits, maximum of 60 credits from the options below:

  • Advanced Techniques for Differential Equations (20 credits, Autumn semester)

The development of techniques for the study of nonlinear differential equations is a major worldwide research activity to which members of the School have made important contributions. This course will cover a number of state-of-the-art methods, namely:

  • use of green function methods in the solution of linear partial differential equations
  • characteristic methods, classification and regularization of nonlinear partial differentiation equations
  • bifurcation theory

These will be illustrated by applications in the biological and physical sciences.

 
  • Computational and Systems Biology (20 credits, Autumn semester)
The purpose of this module is to deepen and broaden the students’ knowledge and experience of computational and systems biology techniques, including the use of numerical solutions of ODEs and PDEs, and of relevant computer packages (eg MATLAB, Python/Scipy).
 
  • Quantum Information Science (20 credits, Autumn semester)
This Quantum Theory Pathway course gives a mathematical introduction to quantum information theory. Its content builds on MATH2013 with the aim of providing the student with a background in quantum information science which will facilitate further independent learning and the access to current research topics.
 
  • Scientific Computation and C++ (20 credits, Autumn semester)
The purpose of this course is to introduce concepts of scientific programming using the object oriented language C++ for applications arising in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. Students taking this module will develop knowledge and understanding of a variety or relevant numerical techniques and how to efficiently implement them in C++.
 
  • Applied Nonlinear Dynamics (20 credits, Spring semester)
The course will cover Nonlinear oscillations, including the linear stability of limit cycles (Floquet theory), the Mathieu equation, and relaxation oscillators (using geometric singular perturbation theory). Synchronisation by periodic forcing will be discussed using the notion of isochrons and phase-response curves, as well as Poincaré sections, circle-maps, mode-locking, and Arnol’d tongues. The treatment of Chaos will cover tests for chaos (Liapunov exponents and spectral analysis), strange and chaotic attractors, fractal boundaries, and routes to chaos in nonlinear dynamical systems. The analysis of Oscillator networks will cover weakly coupled phase-oscillators, Kuramoto networks, and the master-stability theorem for linearly coupled limit-cycle networks. The extension of techniques to Non-smooth dynamical systems will be developed for piece-wise linear systems (exact analysis), impact oscillators (with grazing bifurcations), and integrate-and-fire models (from neurons to networks). The course will conclude with a treatment of Spatially extended systems, covering pattern formation (in both PDE and integral equation models), and weakly nonlinear analysis (amplitude equations and pattern selection).
 
  • Advanced Fluid Mechanics (20 credits, Spring semester)
This course forms part of the Fluid and Solid Mechanics pathway within Applied Mathematics. Students taking this course will develop their knowledge of specialised topics within fluid mechanics and be introduced to areas of active research.
 
  • Computational Applied Mathematics (20 credits, Spring semester)
This course introduces computational methods for solving problems in applied mathematics. Students taking this course will develop knowledge and understanding to design, justify and implement relevant computational techniques and methodologies.
 
 

 

The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Natural Sciences

School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 823 2376
Fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3555
Email: naturalsciences@nottingham.ac.uk