Astrophysics and Environmental Science 

(2018 Entry)

BSc (Hons)

At Keele, studying a combined honours degree will include some modules from both of the single honours degrees. In this case, your programme will be made up of a combination of modules from both Astrophysics and Environmental Science.

Combined Honours

Combined Honours degrees allow you to study two different subjects in one degree. Find out more about Combined Honours degrees.


Study abroad
Learn a language
International year
3 years/ 4 years with international year

UCAS code: FF60

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Course Overview

In Astrophysics, you will learn to formulate and tackle problems – from below the level of the atomic nucleus to astronomical scales. Astrophysics is active wherever the laws of physics are being tested to the limit – and beyond. Keele will help you to use astronomical observations, mathematical models and computer simulation to develop theories explaining some of the most complex phenomena. You’ll develop your mathematics and computing skills, and apply them to solving a range of problems in the laboratory and beyond (you’ll have access to Keele’s own on-site observatory). We operate an open-door policy, which enables you to have excellent and flexible access to staff to seek advice or feedback on their work. This course is enriched by our research interests and international collaborative research programmes. This combined course is accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Alongside this you will be studying Environmental Science. This course crosses the traditional divide between the natural and social sciences, providing the necessary holistic perspective to understand environment and sustainability issues, and to develop strategies to work towards a more sustainable future. For society to tackle the environmental and sustainability problems we now face, we need people who can grapple with both the scientific and human aspects of those issues. That’s why this innovative course is taught across three different faculties, integrating a range of disciplines including the geo and environmental sciences, life sciences, chemical sciences, politics and international relations, management, and health amongst others. There is a strong emphasis on the development and application of skills, including practical fieldwork and engagement with professionals working in the environment and sustainability sector through work placement opportunities. This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), meaning students can gain free membership of the IES to support their personal and professional development in the environmental sector.

What will this mean for my future?

Keele enjoys high rates of graduate employment, where in 2016, were recognised nationally as 1st for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey. An Astrophysics degree from Keele will prepare you for many different careers, which need not be directly related to astrophysics. You could take up all sorts of roles in industry, management, and public services, including teaching, health and finance. Many employers recognise that the versatility and flexibility of astrophysics means that graduates possess a wide range of very valuable skills, from independent and critical thinking to the solving of sophisticated problems.

Keele’s Environment and Sustainability programme is a leader in its field in the UK, offering an exciting way to look at a subject of major relevance to today’s society and to put it into different global contexts. Graduates in Environment and Sustainability might go on to further study, or enter careers in a wide range of disciplines and organisations – perhaps in business or industry where sustainability concerns are becoming ever more part of core business, or with a non-governmental organisation; charity; local, regional or central government; environmental consultancy; or an environmental regulatory body.

 

 

Indicative modules

First Year

  • Mechanics, Gravity & Relativity
  • Nature of Matter
  • Oscillations & Waves
  • Electricity & Stellar Structure
  • Environmental Science Skills
  • Introductory Geology for the Environmental Sciences Ecology
  • Environment Introductory Environmental Chemistry

Second Year

  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Optics & Thermodynamics
  • Stellar Astrophysics
  • Statistical Mechanics & Solid State Physics
  • Human Impacts on the Environment: Scientific Perspectives
  • Environmental and Sustainability Impact Assessment
  • Research Planning Environmental Analytical Methods

Third Year

  • Electromagnetism
  • Astrophysics Project and Communication Skills
  • Cosmology
  • Astrophysics Dissertation
  • Particle Physics & Accelerators
  • Physics of Compact Objects
  • Binary Stars and Exoplanets
  • Life in the Universe
  • Quantum Mechanics II
  • Physics of the Interstellar Medium
  • Physics of Fluids
  • Plasma Physics
  • Atmospheric Physics

Course structure

Our degree courses are organised into modules. Each module is usually a self-contained unit of study and each is usually assessed separately with the award of credits on the basis of 1 credit = 10 hours of student effort.  An outline of the structure of the programme is provided in the tables below.

There are three types of module delivered as part of this programme. They are:

  • Compulsory modules – a module that you are required to study on this course;
  • Optional modules – these allow you some limited choice of what to study from a list of modules;
  • Elective modules – a free choice of modules that count towards the overall credit requirement but not the number of subject-related credits.

Modules Summary

Astrophysics - A summary of the total credit requirements per year is as follows, with a minimum of 90 subject credits (compulsory plus optional) required for each year across both of your Principal Subjects. This document has information about Astrophysics modules only; please also see the document for your other subject.

 

Year

Compulsory

Optional

Electives

Min

Max

Min

Max

1

60

0

0

0

0

2

60

0

0

0

0

3*

30

30

30

0

0

* in year 3 there is the option to choose to specialise in one of your subjects, taking a minimum of 90 credits in this subject rather than taking modules from both subjects

 

Environmental Science - A summary of the total credit requirements per year is as follows, with a minimum of 90 subject credits (compulsory plus optional) required for each year across both of your Principal Subjects. This document has information about Environmental Science modules only; please also see the document for your other subject.

Year

Compulsory

Optional

Electives

Min

Max

Min

Max

1

60

0

0

0

0

2

60

0

0

0

0

3*

15

30

45

0

15

* in year 3 there is the option to choose to specialise in one of your subjects, taking a minimum of 90 credits in this subject rather than taking modules from both subjects

 

Modules - Year One

Year 1 (Level 4)

 

Astrophysics Year 1 (Level 4)

At level 4, Physics and Astrophysics students require a common knowledge and skills base. Therefore, many of the modules taught at level 4 are common to Physics and Astrophysics disciplines. You will study FOUR lecture-based modules of core Astrophysics.

 

The lecture-based modules are supported by problem classes and assessed problem sheets with an end of semester examination in each. These modules also include lectures, problems classes and tutorials in mathematics, and laboratory classes, which are an essential part of Astrophysics. The module descriptors provide detailed synopses of each module with suggested study reading and are available on the KLE.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Mechanics, Gravity and Relativity

15

None

 

Nature of Matter

15

   

Oscillations and Waves

15

   

Electricity and Stellar Structure

15

   

 

Environmental Science Year 1 (Level 4)

The first year of the Environmental Science programmes start by emphasising the fundamental principles of the sciences underpinning the field of Environmental Science and how these are integrated in the discipline of Environmental Science in order to address environmental issues. This broad scientific foundation in the first year leads on to the detailed study of a range of Environmental Science issues and concepts in years 2 and in the final year.

Students take 60 credits of compulsory core modules in their first year as shown in the table below, with the exception of students studying Environmental Science in combination with Chemistry or in combination with Biology. Environmental Science and Chemistry students take an additional optional or elective module to replace Introductory Environmental Chemistry.  Environmental Science and Biology students take an additional 30 credits of modules to replace Biodiversity, Ecology and Environment, 15 credits of which must be from the list of optional modules

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules***

Credits

Studying the Environment

15

Fundamentals of Physical Geography

15

Biodiversity, Ecology and Environment*

30

People and the Environment

15

Introductory Environmental Chemistry**

15

Greening Business: Employability and

Sustainability

15

   

Introductory Geology for the Environmental Sciences****

15

*Biodiversity, Ecology and Environment is not taken by students combining Environmental Science and Biology.  These students must choose 30 credits of option or elective modules, 15 credits of which must be from the optional module list.  **Introductory Environmental Chemistry is not taken by students combining Environmental Science with Chemistry or Medicinal Chemistry. These students must choose an additional optional or elective module.

*** Optional modules are only available to students combining Environmental Science with Chemistry or Medicinal Chemistry or Biology.

****Introductory Geology for the Environmental Sciences is only available for students combining Environmental Science and Biology.

 

Field Courses

Studying the Environment (local area)

Introductory field day to explore the different aspects of environmental science at a local field site (1 day).

Studying the Environment (Centre for Alternative Technology)

A residential weekend to the Centre for Alternative Technology, exploring renewable energy, sustainable living and building, and the geology and physical landscape of the local area.

Environmental Science Skills (North Wales)*

Residential field course in North Wales, looking at the ecology, hydrochemistry and biogeochemistry of aquatic and terrestrial environments and the environmental impacts of historical mining activities, includes a day of laboratory work at Keele (5 days).

*Note about field courses: these may change depending on factors such as staff availability, staff changes, staff expertise, costs, student numbers, other factors outside of our control (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc.). Locations of 'local area' field days change on a year by year basis.

 

Modules - Year Two

Year 2 (Level 5)

Astrophysics Year 2 (Level 5)

At level 5 you continue to be taught the fundamentals of Physics. Modules are common to Physics and Astrophysics in the first semester of the second year, but diverge significantly from the second semester of the second year onwards. In the first semester you take an Optics Laboratory and a short series of classes in developing your mathematical skills. In the second semester you take an Astrophysics laboratory.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Quantum Mechanics

15

None

 

Optics and Thermodynamics

15

   

Statistical mechanics and Solid State Physics

15

   

Stellar Astrophysics

15

   

 

Environmental Science Year 2 (Level 5)

Students study 60-credits of compulsory core modules.  Students studying abroad for one semester do not take the 30-credit module ESC-20079 (Environmental and Sustainability Impact Assessment and Research Planning), and instead take 15-credits of this module in the semester that they remain at Keele for.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Human Impacts on the Environment:

Scientific Perspectives

15

None

 

Environmental and Sustainability Impact Assessment and Research Planning

30

   

Environmental Analytical Methods

15

   

 

Field courses

  Environmental and Sustainability Impact

Assessment and Research Planning (local)

Based in a local country park, students work in project groups to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  (1 day)

  Environmental and Sustainability Impact

Assessment and Research Planning (residential)

A residential field course investigating issues of environmental science and management (6-8 days depending on dates of Easter vacation).   In 2016/17 options were the Lake District, UK or Bordeaux, France.

*Note about field courses: these may change depending on factors such as staff availability, staff changes, staff expertise, costs, student numbers, other factors outside of our control (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc.). Locations of 'local area' field days change on a year by year basis.

 

Work Placement Year

Students taking the 4-year with ‘work placement year’ undertake their work placement between Year-2 and Year-3 of their degree programme. During the work placement year, students undertake a work placement (minimum 30 weeks full time (1,050 hours) or equivalent) with an environmentally-focussed company or organisation. Students take the ESC-30042 (non-credit bearing) Work Placement Year module.

Core modules

Credits

Work placement year

n/a

   

 

 

Modules - Year Three

Year 3 (Level 6)

Astrophysics Year 3 (Level 6)

At level 6, you complete a group research project and follow one compulsory module plus two optional core modules of your choice from a list of available modules.

Compulsory Core modules

Credits

Optional core modules

Credits

Group Project and Science Communication

15

Cosmology

15

Electromagnetism

15

Physics of the Interstellar Medium

15

   

The Physics of Compact Objects

15

   

Quantum Physics of Atoms and Molecules

15

   

Polymer Physics

15

   

Particle Physics and Accelerators

15

   

Binary Stars and Extrasolar Planets

15

   

Life in the Universe

15

   

Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics

15

   

Data Analysis and Model testing

15

   

The Physics of Galaxies

15

   

Quantum Mechanics II

15

   

Physics of Fluids

15

   

Atmospheric Physics

15

   

Plasma Physics

15

 

Environmental Science Year 3 (Level 6)

Level 6 (combined Honours) students study the Dissertation module (15 credits) and two or three option modules from the list below (45 credits). It is the programme norm and it is expected that combined honours students will take the single (15 credit) project module. However, in discussion with the Programme Director and project supervisor, where it is deemed appropriate combined honours students may be permitted to take the 30 credit Dissertation module (and choose only two option modules).   

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Dissertation

15

Contemporary Topics in Environmental Science

15

   

Clean Technology

15

   

Conservation Biology

15

   

Applied Insect Ecology

15

   

Applied Fish Biology

15

   

Trees in their Environment

15

   

Natural Hazards

15

   

Global Environmental Change

15

   

Applied GIS

15

   

Coastal Environments

15

   

Water Resources

Glaciers and Glacial Geomorphology

15

 

Modules - Year Four


 

If you choose to specialise in Astrophysics in your final year you will study the following modules:

Compulsory Core modules

Credits

Optional core modules

Credits

Group Project and Science Communication

15

Cosmology

15

Electromagnetism

15

Physics of the Interstellar Medium

15

Dissertation

15

The Physics of Compact Objects

15

   

Quantum Physics of Atoms and Molecules

15

   

Polymer Physics

15

   

Particle Physics and Accelerators

15

   

Binary Stars and Extrasolar Planets

15

   

Life in the Universe

15

   

Computational Methods in Physics and Astrophysics

15

   

Data Analysis and Model testing

15

   

The Physics of Galaxies

15

   

Quantum Mechanics II

15

   

Physics of Fluids

15

   

Atmospheric Physics

15

   

Plasma Physics

15

 

You may, in addition to modules listed, include in level 6 of your Astrophysics course one suitable programme approved elective module from another Principal Course, provided that you are not taking the Principal Course from which that module is derived as part of your Combined Honours combination.

 

You will find that in teaching you we put emphasis on problem solving. This occurs in examples classes where you solve practice problems in Astrophysics in class with staff to assist you, in laboratory teaching where you will be expected to address practical problems and in your directed work for assessment. You are encouraged to call upon module leaders and the director of study for guidance. The academic staff will be willing to see you at almost any time and you will have one-to-one progress interviews each semester. The teaching team will monitor your progress and we will contact you if we find that you are not achieving all that you should and advise you on how to improve.

 

You will benefit from a flexible approach to learning the mathematical skills that are essential to the learning and application of Astrophysics. You will find that the classes on mathematics in level 4 are presented in a series of blocks. An assessment test is taken at the end of the class blocks. You will also attend supplementary supporting tutorials in mathematics.

 

If you choose to specialise in Environmental Science in your final year you will study the following modules:

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Dissertation

30

Clean Technology

15

Contemporary Topics in Environmental Science

15

Applied Insect Ecology

15

   

Applied Fish Biology

15

   

Trees in their Environment

15

   

Conservation Biology

15

   

Natural Hazards

15

   

Hydrological and Engineering Geology

15

   

Global Environmental Change

15

   

Applied GIS

15

   

Coastal Environments

15

   

Water Resources

15

   

Glaciers and Glacial Geomorphology

15

 

Field courses: The field courses undertaken during the third year will depend on the modules chosen. It should be noted that for many students their Independent Project work is likely to include a significant amount of fieldwork.

 

For further information on the content of modules currently offered, including the list of elective modules, please visit: www.keele.ac.uk/recordsandexams/az