Physics with Astronomy (BSc)

Entry year

2018/19 2019/20

Study the Physics with Astronomy BSc and you will find yourself working alongside scientists at the forefront of astronomical research.

The BSc Physics with Astronomy has an emphasis on astronomy and observational techniques and is ideal for those interested in fundamental questions about our Universe.

Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP), this course aims to prepare you for a career in industrial or academic research and development, education or other sectors which require a practical, numerate and analytical approach to problem solving.

In your first two years, you will study a core component of physics and astrophysics modules, delivered to you by a range of teaching methods. In your third year you will study advanced astrophysics and astronomy topics in detail, with additional optional modules. You will also undertake an astrophysics research project.

You will be part of a friendly and welcoming department currently housed in the Queen’s Building complex, which contains a wide variety of purpose-built laboratories, lecture theatres and computing facilities.

Distinctive features

The distinctive features of the course include:

  • The opportunity to learn in a department which has a strong commitment to research and is home to one of the UK’s largest Astronomy research groups
  • The involvement of research-active staff in course design and delivery
  • Frequent opportunities to conduct practical work in the School’s laboratory facilities
  • An emphasis on independent learning

Key facts

UCAS CodeF3F5
Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
AccreditationsInstitute of Physics (IOP)
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 105 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 570 applications.
Contact

Entry requirements

Typical A level offerAAB-ABB to include B in Mathematics and Physics with (where applicable) a pass in the practical element of the science A level. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted. 
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerThe Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34-30 points including 6 in Higher Level Mathematics and Physics, or 665 including 6 in Higher Level Mathematics and Physics.
Alternative qualificationsAlternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Physics & Astronomy admissions criteria pages.
English Language requirementsIf you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.
Other requirementsYou will require GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. Alternatively, IGCSE English First Language or English Second Language will be considered at grade C. 

This is a three-year full-time degree. The course includes a carefully chosen balance of core modules, along with some optional modules. Modules are worth 10 or 20 credits and you need to earn 120 credits a year.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

Year one

The range of modules in year one is designed to stimulate your interest in physics while giving you a sound foundation upon which to build in later years. At the end of the first year, you may continue with your original degree choice or choose another of our single honours physics and astronomy degrees. 

You will study core modules worth 110 credits, and in the Autumn Semester, you can either take a module on mathematical practice in the physical sciences or, if you have an A grade or higher in Mathematics A-level, an alternative 10-credit module.

Year two

The second year of the course continues to build on the core physics and astrophysics material. You will also take a 20-credit module on observational techniques in astronomy. This introduces the theory and practice of making and interpreting astronomical observations and provides the necessary skills to undertake your astronomy or astrophysics research project in year three.

Module titleModule codeCredits
The Physics of Fields and FlowsPX213120 credits
Introductory Quantum MechanicsPX213210 credits
Structured ProgrammingPX213410 credits
Observational Techniques in AstronomyPX213910 credits
Thermal and Statistical PhysicsPX223120 credits
OpticsPX223210 credits
Introduction to Condensed Matter PhysicsPX223610 credits
Observing the UniversePX223910 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Electronic InstrumentationPX213510 credits
Electricity in the Human BodyPX213710 credits
The Stars and their PlanetsPX214010 credits
Synoptic PhysicsPX223410 credits
Synoptic AstrophysicsPX223510 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits

Year three

The final year of your degree allows you to specialise and study selected topics in depth. You will also undertake an independent project on a related topic of astronomy or astrophysics research.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Atomic and Nuclear PhysicsPX314120 credits
Particle Physics and Special RelativityPX324120 credits
Physics ProjectPX331520 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Condensed Matter PhysicsPX314210 credits
Computational PhysicsPX314310 credits
Electromagnetic Radiation DetectionPX314410 credits
Formation and Evolution of StarsPX314510 credits
Digital Medical ImagingPX314710 credits
Acoustics and Studio SoundPX314810 credits
Galaxies and Galaxy EvolutionPX315210 credits
Environmental PhysicsPX315310 credits
Semiconductor Devices and ApplicationsPX324210 credits
Laser Physics and Non-Linear OpticsPX324310 credits
High-Energy AstrophysicsPX324510 credits
Theoretical PhysicsPX324810 credits
Statistical MechanicsPX324910 credits
CosmologyPX325210 credits
Commercialising InnovationPX325310 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

Teaching is carried out using a range of techniques, such as traditional lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, and computer-based, project-based and skills-based exercises. Physics is a hierarchical discipline so the structure of the course is systematic, building on fundamental understanding.

Exercises are an integral part of all lecture-based modules, and these give you the opportunity to apply your knowledge, increase your critical awareness and enhance your problem-solving skills.

You will undertake weekly laboratory classes in the first two years, to prepare you for a major experimental study as part of your final-year project.

Mathematics is taught alongside the major Physics and Astrophysics concepts in all years, with specific modules in the first year. It is fundamental to understanding the subject and is incorporated into many physics modules.

Key IT skills are taught throughout the course as well as elementary programming using Python. You may also have the opportunity to take further computing and numerical-methods modules as the course develops.

Regular small-group tutorials are held in years one and two. These meetings will allow you to meet with other students in small groups (typically four or five students to one tutor) and receive feedback on your continuous assessment. In the first year these sessions are given on a weekly basis, in year two they take place fortnightly.

Throughout the delivery of the programme, wherever possible, recent research results are used to illustrate and illuminate the subject.

How will I spend my time? (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

32%

Guided independent study

68%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

31%

Guided independent study

69%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

29%

Guided independent study

71%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

Your main interaction with academic staff will be through lectures, laboratory practical sessions, workshops or small-group teaching sessions (tutorials).

You will also be allocated a personal tutor, a member of academic staff who can provide pastoral support and academic advice during your course.

All lecturing staff can be contacted by email and have either an ‘open door’ policy for students with specific queries about course material, or a system to book meeting times. The School Office can answer most administrative queries immediately.

You will be given access to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles through the University’s virtual learning environment, Learning Central. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

Feedback on progress is typically provided through a combination of discussion in class, written comments on submitted work and review of outline solutions to problems. You are encouraged to discuss any queries related to specific modules with individual lecturers.

How will I be assessed?

There are a wide variety of assessment methods. Some modules combine continuous assessment and an end-of-semester exam and others are solely based on continuous assessment.

At first the nature and methods of experiments are clearly defined for you, but by your final year you are expected to tackle more open-ended investigations.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

49%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

51%

Year 2

Written exams

53%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

47%

Year 3

Written exams

62%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

38%

What skills will I practise and develop?

Studying this course will enable you to acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both discipline specific and more generic employability skills. You will:

  • Develop your experimental, analytical and investigative skills in laboratory classes
  • Learn how to design experimental equipment, electronic circuitry or computer data acquisition or data reduction algorithms
  • Use precise calculations or order-of-magnitude calculations in appropriate situations
  • Use computer packages and/or write software
  • Conduct independent research using source materials such as textbooks, scientific journals and electronic databases
  • Develop your communication skills, both orally and in writing
  • Enhance your team-working skills and ability to critically appraise your own work and the work of others
  • Develop your ability to undertake independent learning and effectively manage your time

In 2015/16, 92% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

Employers included UK and international universities plus a range of organisations such as Rolls Royce, European Space Agency, National Instruments and Barclays.

Jobs

  • Research scientist
  • Teacher
  • Intellectual property

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£9,000None

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£19,950None

Tuition fees for international students are fixed for the majority of three year undergraduate courses. This means the price you pay in year one will be the same in years two and three. Some courses are exempt, including four and five year programmes and Medical and Dental courses. Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Additional costs

The School covers the cost of essential equipment, including core course textbooks in the first two years. All other suggested textbooks are available through the University libraries.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

The University will provide all essential equipment. It currently also provides the core first-year physics and maths textbooks. You may choose to buy other textbooks following advice from staff. You may also wish to consider purchasing a personal computer, laptop or tablet device, although specific computing facilities are available on site.

Accomodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

There is the option of taking a Professional Placement Year between your second and third years, when you can work in industry, commerce, government or other relevant placement providers. This would extend the BSc degree to four years.

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