School of Physics & Astronomy

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I defer?

Yes of course, but it is best to apply for your place first; you might find yourself in the African Bush so visits would be a bit tricky. Also:

  • do something useful,
  • try and save some money, and
  • try and keep up with your Physics and Mathematics so that restarting is not too great a shock.

Please let us know as soon as possible, preferably well before the A level results come out in August.

Do you have any Sponsorships?

Many of our students do have sponsorships but they were obtained by the students themselves writing to the companies. The availability of these depends very much on the economic climate. The University of Nottingham offers bursaries and the School also offers scholarships based on academic achievement. For further information on scholarships and bursaries click here.

What A-level grades do you require?

Candidates are required to have taken GCE Advanced Level (AS+A2) in physics and mathematics, and one other subject (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking) to full A-level or to other subjects to AS level. Candidates for the Chemistry and Molecular Physics Honours course must have taken GCE Advanced Level in physics, chemistry and mathematics. The conditional offers that we make are tailored to each individual applicant, but success on these degree programmes typically requires grades A or B at A-level. Other qualification such as the International Baccalaureate and Irish Leaving Certificate are considered individually, and an offer made at an appropriate equivalent level.

Do you consider Disabled Applicants?

Yes! Disabled access is available to all buildings, although some are easier than others. There is easy access to the Physics and Mathematics Building and most lecture theatres are fitted with a loop system for those with hearing difficulties. Hearing, seeing and writing problems have always been overcome with special arrangements, so do not be deterred!

Do you consider Mature Applicants?

Mature candidates frequently offer a range of qualifications such as Access, HND, BTEC etc. Each is considered as a special case but it is essential that you have a good knowledge of mathematics equivalent to A-level. If in doubt, get in touch.

Do you consider applications from overseas?

We are very happy to consider applications from overseas candidates, both from within the EU and World-wide. Please contact us so that we can discuss the appropriate entry qualifications, English language requirements, etc.

How much work will I need to do?

An average of 35-40 hours a week: Each week timetabled activities include around 10 hours of lectures, 6 hours in the lab, 1 - 2 hours computing, a tutorial (in the first year) and problem classes. To supplement the work in timetabled activities you will be expected to undertake your own private study; completing coursework assignments, writing laboratory reports and supplementing lectures with background reading and problem solving.

It is important to make full use of the sporting and social opportunities of the university as well. So time management is one of the most important skills you will have to learn.

How do I qualify for a degree, how many exams are there?

In order to qualify for an honours degree, a student must accumulate 360 or 480 credits over their three or four years of study. Most modules are assessed at the end of the semester in which they have been studied; the method of assessment may be a written examination or continuous assessment.

The first year examinations are considered as a qualifying assessment only and are not formally considered for the final degree classification: only the second and later year assessments count for this purpose. Transfers between nearly all courses are possible at the end of the first year, providing certain prerequisites have been satisfied.

What Computing will I do?

Computers provide one of the most important flexible tools available to the modern physicist, so we take care to provide you with the necessary skills in this area. We teach all the computing that you need using MATLAB. Within this industry-standard environment, you will learn everything from simple problem solving all the way through to advanced programming. We also teach you how to produce publication-quality scientific graphics and how to control sophisticated experiments all using this single package. The integrated approach has the advantage of allowing students to start at the point appropriate to their level of computer literacy, and means that each new skill can be learned without having to start from scratch using a different package. Students who are particularly interested in computational physics can pursue advanced options in computing, and can use the skills that they have developed to undertake Third and Fourth |Year projects that make extensive use of high-performance computers.

What Options can I do?

About one sixth of your course consists of options that you can choose from Physics (eg Environmental Physics, Astronomy, Biophysics etc) and across most of the University (not Medicine or Agriculture). Some insist on prior knowledge from GCSE, A level or University modules so read the small print. The only restriction the School of Physics and Astronomy places is that the option must not clash with a core Physics module.

Do I get involved with the School's Research at all?

Our internationally recognised research encompasses a broad range of activity from the physics of the very small right up to the physics of the very large including important interdisciplinary work at the interfaces with medicine, chemistry, biology and psychology. These research specialisations include theoretical and experimental investigations into quantum and particle physics, nanoscience, magnetic resonance imaging, solid state and semiconductor physics, astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. Through specialised options and project work, undergraduate students learn about this frontier physics directly from the academic members of staff who are pioneering these new developments and writing the new research papers.

Some of the 3rd and many of the 4th year projects are associated with the School’s research groups. In the final year of MSci the extended project can be in a research laboratory or in collaboration with an external company. Therefore, through lectures and projects undergraduate students get their first insight into today’s leading developments in science – whether you decide to stay on for a PhD research degree or not, this will provide you with excellent insight and training that will be useful to you in the development of your career.

What kind of jobs do your graduates get?

Physics underpins most of science and technology, but the range of careers entered by physics graduates is far wider than even this fact would suggest. Employers see a physics graduate as someone who has demonstrated an ability to work through a demanding course of study and who has gained a wide variety of technical and transferable skills. The range of careers enjoyed by our graduates and their success in finding lucrative positions are measures of how very many employers appreciate the value of a physics degree.

Approximately 25% of the School's graduates go on to study for a higher degree, either here or elsewhere. Of the remainder, about 25% go into science or engineering, 20% enter the financial sector, 10% move into management roles, and the remainder take up a wide variety of careers including law, teaching, meteorology and the media. In the last few years, all our students who have sought work after they left University had no problems in finding employment. Further, the quality of our graduates attracts the top employers who are looking for high-flying graduates: job offers with starting salaries in excess of £30,000 are becoming common.

School of Physics and Astronomy

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

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