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Astrophysics (BSc)

  • UCAS code: F511
  • Next intake: September 2021
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry Year

Why study this course

Our three year BSc in Astrophysics will give you a deeper understanding of the Universe while developing your skills and knowledge in the core subjects of physics and mathematics.

The BSc Astrophysics degree covers core physical and mathematical concepts with a clear focus on our interpretation of the Universe. The course is designed to give a thorough education in theoretical aspects of physics and astrophysics and an understanding of observational astronomy.

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.

The 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.

 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 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

Accreditations

Where you'll study

School of Physics and Astronomy

Our institute of Physics accredited degree programmes include specialised topics which reflect our research interests.

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Entry requirements

AAB-ABB. Must include grade B in Maths and Physics or A*BB. Must include A* in Maths if not taking Physics. You will need to pass the science practical element of the A-level if this is part of your programme of study.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DD-DM in a BTEC Diploma in science and engineering subjects and grade A in Maths A-Level or D in any BTEC subject and grades BB in Maths and Physics A-Level.

34-32 overall or 666-665 in 3 HL subjects. Must include grade 6 in HL Maths and Physics or grade 7 in HL Maths if not taking HL Physics.

Other UK qualifications may also be accepted, often in lieu of A-levels, but subject requirements must be met. If you are offering non-UK qualifications, our qualification equivalences guide should allow you to calculate what kind of offer you are likely to receive.

Please be aware that this is a general guide, and that some programmes may have more detailed or specific entry requirements which will be reflected in your offer.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 overall with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Tier 4 visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course. If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year. Fees for the previous year were £9,000.

Students from outside the EU (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year.

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.

Course specific equipment

The University will provide all essential equipment. It currently also provides the core first-year physics and maths textbooks. You may choose to buy additional 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.

Accommodation

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

Course structure

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 typically 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 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

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 Cardiff’s single honours physics and astronomy degrees.

You will study core modules worth 120 credits.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Mathematical Methods for Physicists 1PX112020 credits
Mechanics and MatterPX112120 credits
Planet EarthPX112710 credits
Experimental PhysicsPX115020 credits
Electricity, Magnetism and WavesPX122120 credits
Computational Skills for Problem SolvingPX122410 credits
Introduction to AstrophysicsPX122810 credits
Mathematical Methods for Physicists 2PX123010 credits

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 called 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
The Stars and their PlanetsPX214010 credits
Observational Techniques in AstronomyPX215520 credits
Thermal and Statistical PhysicsPX223120 credits
OpticsPX223210 credits
Synoptic AstrophysicsPX223510 credits
Introduction to Condensed Matter PhysicsPX223610 credits

Year three

In your third year you will study 80 credits of core modules with a further 20 credits from a selection of optional modules. You will also undertake an independent project of 20 credits on a related topic of astronomy or astrophysics research.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Atomic and Nuclear PhysicsPX314120 credits
Formation and Evolution of StarsPX314510 credits
CosmologyPX314610 credits
Particle Physics and Special RelativityPX324120 credits
High-Energy AstrophysicsPX324510 credits
Galaxies and Galaxy EvolutionPX325110 credits
Physics ProjectPX335030 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Condensed Matter PhysicsPX314210 credits
Computational PhysicsPX314310 credits
Electromagnetic Radiation DetectionPX314410 credits
Digital Medical ImagingPX314710 credits
Environmental PhysicsPX315310 credits
Semiconductor Devices and ApplicationsPX324210 credits
Laser Physics and Non-Linear OpticsPX324310 credits
Theoretical PhysicsPX324810 credits
Statistical MechanicsPX324910 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.

A student working in the undergraduate laboratory.

Learning and assessment

Teaching is carried out using a range of techniques, such as traditional lectures, tutorials and 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 an experimental study as part of your year-three project and for your major 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 usually 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.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

33%

Guided independent study

67%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

31%

Guided independent study

69%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

30%

Guided independent study

70%

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.

Year 1

Written exams

49%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

51%

Year 2

Written exams

53%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

47%

Year 3

Written exams

58%

Practical exams

0%

Coursework

43%

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 based around general employability. 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

Careers

Career prospects

In the latest survey of graduate employment 93% of the School’s recent graduates reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

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

Graduate careers

  • research scientist
  • research development leader
  • medical physicist
  • lecturer
  • finance and banking
  • physics teacher

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