Astrophysics and Mathematics 

(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 Mathematics.

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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UCAS code: FG51

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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 Mathematics - a subject at Keele which has been been consistently ranked in the top ten in the UK in the National Student Survey. On this course you will explore the beauty, elegance and practicality of pure mathematics, applied mathematics and statistics. You will learn to use maths to develop precise and logical arguments, construct rigorous proofs, and formulate solutions to new problems. You will study in an intellectually stimulating environment amongst mathematicians producing world-leading research.

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. Through the combined honours degree in Mathematics, it helps you to take novel approaches to problem solving and make critical interpretations of data and text; your skills will be in demand wherever there’s a need for logical thinking. An extremely wide range of career paths is open to mathematicians, where high levels of mathematical ability are desirable. This can include fields of work as diverse as finance, data analytics, teaching, engineering, medical statistics and management consultancy.

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

 

Mathematics - 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. Combined Honours Mathematics students must study 60 Mathematics credits in each academic year. This document has information about Mathematics 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

15

45

45

0

0

3*

0

60

60

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

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

   

 

Mathematics Year 1 (Level 4)

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Algebra

30

None

 

Calculus

30

   

 

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

   

 

Mathematics Year 2 (Level 5)

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Differential Equations

15

Probability

15

   

Analysis I

15

   

Computational Mathematics

15

   

Complex Variable I and Vector Calculus

15

   

Dynamics

15

   

Mathematical Modelling

15

   

Abstract Algebra

15

   

Analysis II

15

   

Introduction to Mathematics Education

15

   

Optional Modules: in each semester students take two 15-credit modules

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

 

Mathematics Year 3 (Level 6)

Optional modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

Nonlinear Differential Equations

15

Linear Algebra

15

Partial Differential Equations

15

Complex Variable II

15

Group Theory

15

Waves

15

Number Theory

15

Medical Statistics

15

Professional Mathematics

15

Mathematical Biology

15

Applied Time Series

15

Ring and Field Theory

15

Linear Statistical Models

15

Codes and Cryptography

15

Metric Spaces and Topology

15

Introduction to Mathematics Teaching     

15

Graph Theory

15

Project

15

Fluid Mechanics

15

Medical Statistics Project

30

Optional Modules: students normally choose two 15-credit modules in each semester. The choice will depend on any timetabling restrictions and will be subject to the student having met the necessary prerequisites. Some modules may not be available every year.

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.

 

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