Astrophysics and Geology 

(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 Geology.

Combined Honours

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


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International year
3 years/ 4 years with international year

UCAS code: FF56

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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 Geology. Geology is a science fundamental to modern day living, with geologists discovering society’s major resource needs including metals, minerals, energy and groundwater. The combined honours Geology course at Keele looks at rocks, minerals and fossils, how they were formed, how they might have been deformed or altered over geological time and what they can tell us about the history of the Earth and its past environments. It also covers geological processes such as earthquakes, volcanoes and plate tectonics, and how these processes produce different geological materials. Geology is a practical subject with applied problem-solving laboratory classes and field courses where you will learn how to interpret and map geological features, and explore for future geological resources. Field course transport and accommodation costs are covered by the University.

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. Career opportunities in geology are excellent because industry and modern society depends on geologists to find natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, minerals, metals, aggregates and water. Geologists are also needed for designing foundations, tunnels and other engineering projects. You could go on to work in mining, the oil and gas industry, hydrogeology or geotechnical engineering. Geologists are also required for environmental projects such as radioactive waste disposal or carbon dioxide capture and storage. Degrees studying Geology combined with another science subject are accredited by the Geological Society of London.

Indicative modules

First Year

  • Mechanics, Gravity & Relativity 
  • Nature of Matter 
  • Oscillations & Waves 
  • Electricity & Stellar Structure

Second Year

  • Quantum Mechanics 
  • Optics & Thermodynamics 
  • Stellar Astrophysics 
  • Statistical Mechanics & Solid State Physics

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

 

Geology - The Geology programme is modular in structure and must be taken in Levels 4 and 5 in combination with another principal subject. Students may select to study only Geology modules at Level 6, or transfer to study M. Geology at Levels 6 and 7 (see M. Geology Programme Specification for details), or continue with the Combined Honours scheme at Level 6.

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 Geology 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

45

45

0

0

3*

45

75

75

0

0

* at Level 6 (year 3) there is the option to choose to specialise in one of your subjects. These are the credits if you choose to specialise in Geology in your final year.

 

 

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

   

 

Geology Year 1 (Level 4)

It is assumed that students have no previous geological knowledge and therefore the programme starts from basics. The programme provides a broad-based introduction to geological topics at Levels 4 & 5 with emphasis on the characteristics of rocks, minerals and fossils, together with the processes that govern their formation and development.

 

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Minerals, Rocks and Fossils †

30

None

 

Earth Structure and History †

30

   

† Module contains fieldwork

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

   

 

Geology Year 2 (Level 5)

During Level 5 particular attention is paid to first hand observation, recording and interpretation of geological phenomena in the field and laboratory. This year includes a major overseas field course. By the end of the level you will have been given a complete grounding in geology that will allow you to carry out your own independent studies.

 

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Petrology

30

None

 

Field Techniques

30

   

† Module contains fieldwork

 

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 a geologically-focussed company or organisation. Students take the year-long, non-credit bearing module:

 

Core modules

Credits

Work Placement Year

n/a

 

International Year

Information relevant to students taking the International Year is available in Annex 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

 

Geology Year 3 (Level 6)

This year starts during the summer vacation when you will carry out an independent field project, which normally takes 3 weeks. During the autumn semester you will prepare a dissertation based upon this field project. In addition, there is a choice of option modules from a wide range of geological subject areas. The method and approach to teaching changes emphasis from staff-centred instruction at Levels 4 & 5 to more student-oriented activities, with components of several modules based upon independent or team-based project work.

 

There is also a change from modules based upon pure aspects of geological study to more applied aspects. It is intended that students should select their option modules according to their interests and career aspirations. Much of the content of these Level 6 option modules is based on research at the forefront of the discipline and helps to strengthen links between teaching and research.

 

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules (Choose 45 Credits)

Credits

Independent Fieldwork Project (ISP)

15

Structure and Geodynamics

15

   

Natural Hazards

15

   

Hydrological and Engineering Geology

15

   

Exploration Geophysics for Hydrocarbons

15

   

Micropalaeontology: Principles and Applications

15

   

Economic Geology

15

   

Advanced Topics in Sedimentology

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 Geology in your final year you will study the following modules:

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules (Choose 75 Credits)

Credits

Independent Fieldwork Project (ISP)

15

Structure and Geodynamics

15

Geological Communication Skills

15

Natural Hazards

15

Volcanic and Magmatic Processes

15

Hydrological and Engineering Geology

15

   

Exploration Geophysics for Hydrocarbons

15

   

Micropalaeontology: Principles and Applications

15

   

Economic Geology

15

   

Advanced Topics in Sedimentology

15

   

Glaciers and Glacial Geomorphology *

15

   

Global Environmental Change *

15

   

Water Resources *

15

   

Coastal Environments *

15

* No more than two of these Physical Geography modules may be taken

† Module contains 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