We are still currently taking applications for 2018 entry
Fact file - 2019 entry
BSc Hons Physics with Theoretical Physics
3 years full-time (available part-time)
Maths and physics
36 (6 in maths, plus 6 in physics and 6 in a third subject, all at Higher Level)
University Park Campus
185 places for all courses in the School of Physics and Astronomy
This course is designed to produce graduates who have a broad knowledge of physics, with particular skills in both astrophysics and theoretical physics.
Read full overview
This course provides a broad knowledge of physics, with a special emphasis on the Theoretical aspects. Alongside core physics modules, you will take a series of more specialised modules that develop the key ideas and main mathematical and computational techniques of theoretical physics. To fit in the extra theoretical components, laboratory work is only undertaken in the first year.
You will take the same core physics modules as in the BSc Physics programme, with the Frontiers in Physics module offering an introduction to an array of specialised topics.
The core physics programme is the same as the BSc Physics course, but you will not have to undertake any laboratory work in this or the subsequent year. The time freed up is used to pursue more sophisticated modules in theoretical physics.
In the final year, you will complete the core of physics, theoretical physics and astronomy, and also be able to apply the wide range of skills that you have learned to a theoretical astrophysics project.
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)
For details of other English language tests and qualifications we accept, please see our entry requirements page.
If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.
Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.
For details see the alternative qualifications page
Flexible admissions policy
In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy
. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures
for more information.
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 inaugurated in collaboration with our commercial partners. Full details of all scholarship prizes will be provided at the UCAS open days.
For more details about scholarships, please visit the School of Physics & Astronomy website.
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.
There are typically ten lectures per week covering all modules, plus a couple of 2-hour workshops. All students are additionally supported by a weekly tutorial covering the work studied in all modules.
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.
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.
This year-long module will train you in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. You’ll be trained in 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.
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.
Principles of Dynamics
You’ll be introduced to the mathematical language for discussing extreme problems. The formulations of mechanics due to Lagrange and Hamilton will be described and techniques for the solutions of the consequent equations of motion will be discussed. You’ll learn the underlying principles of dynamics and develop techniques for the solution of dynamical problems. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
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.
Symmetry and Action Principles in Physics
You’ll learn the basic aspects of the mathematical language of symmetry and apply them to a range of physical phenomena. You’ll explore the physical laws, principles and techniques relating to this topic through one hour of lectures and two hours of workshops weekly.
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.
Typical year three modules
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.
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.
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.
Here is a small sample of modules you will be able to choose from:
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 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.
Introduction to Cosmology
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 two 2-hour workshops to assist your learning whilst studying this module.
From Accelerators to Medical Imaging
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.
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.
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 tunneling 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.
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.
Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
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.
In this module you’ll explore the theoretical aspect of atmospheric physics. Topics will include planetary atmosphere, troposphere, solar radiation and the Energy budget, radiation transfer and Photochemistry among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week studying this module.
You will have developed a wide variety of skills including the ability to process complex information, to analyse data, and to problem solve using advanced mathematical methods.
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 2016, 86.6% of undergraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £24,386 with the highest being £55,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.
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.
Fees and funding
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. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.
Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.
* 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.
Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.
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