Physics 

(2018 Entry)

BSc (Hons)

In 2017, Keele’s Physics and Astrophysics graduates have given us a 100% rating for overall satisfaction with their courses. Study Physics at Keele and you’ll learn to apply mathematics and computing to formulate and solve a wide range of physical problems.

Single Honours
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: F300

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Physics was voted 1st for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017

Physics was voted 1st for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2017

Course Overview

You’ll use mathematics to describe the physical world, and learn to plan and conduct investigations before reporting your results.

Your course will be informed by the research interests of your teaching staff: primarily astrophysics and condensed matter physics. Regular laboratory sessions will enable you to investigate unfamiliar phenomena and acquire specialist techniques, but you’ll also develop invaluable transferable skills such as communication, IT and interpersonal skills. We operate an open-door policy which enables you to have excellent and flexible access to staff to seek advice or feedback on your work.

What will this mean for my future?

In 2016, Keele University were recognised nationally as 1st for employability in the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey. A Physics degree from Keele will prepare you for many different careers, which need not be directly related to physics. You could take up all sorts of roles in industry, management, and public services. You might work as a research scientist, medical physicist, software engineer, geophysicist or radiation practitioner, or you might branch out and become a science writer, chartered accountant, patent lawyer, IT consultant or air traffic controller. Many graduates go on to study at master’s or doctorate level.

Indicative modules

First year

  • Mechanics, Gravity and Relativity
  • Nature of Matter
  • Oscillations and Waves
  • Electricity and Magnetism

Second year

  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Optics and Thermodynamics
  • Statistical Mechanics and Solid State Physics
  • Nuclear and Particle Physics

Third year

  • Physics Project
  • Electromagnetism 
  • Dissertation and Communication Skills 
  • Cosmology 
  • Physics of the Interstellar Medium 
  • The Physics of Compact Objects 
  • Polymer Physics 
  • Particles, Accelerators and Reactor Physics 
  • Life in the Universe 
  • Data Analysis and Model testing 
  • The Physics of Galaxies 
  • Quantum Mechanics II 
  • Physics of Fluids

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

In both years 1 and 2 (Levels 4 and 5) students take eight modules. These modules (plus Electromagnetism in year 3) will cover the entire core IoP curriculum but also include a much broader range of material (see the IoP core of physics specification).  In year 3 (Level 6) you will take a further eight modules. Four of these are compulsory modules, the remaining four are options.  The majority of modules are taught over one semester, but several are taught over two semesters. In years 1 and 2 the student workload is roughly the same in each semester. In year 3 the work load balance between semesters will depend on which option modules are selected.

Year

Compulsory

Optional

Electives

Min

Max

Min

Max

1

120

0

0

0

0

2

120

0

0

0

0

3

60

60

60

0

0

Modules - Year One

Year 1 (Level 4)

At level 4, Physics students require a common knowledge and skills base. In the Single Honours Physics programme students study eight core Physics modules, all worth 15 credits, over the first two semesters of the programme. These consist of four modules that directly address core material as specified by the IoP, which include distinct mathematics and laboratory components. These four modules are common to the combined honours Physics programme. There are then four other modules that develop much broader physical, mathematical, computational, statistical and laboratory competencies. There is one module and several other components of laboratory and project work that are distinct from the single honours Physics with Astrophysics programme, but transfer between these two programmes is possible at any point before semester 2 of year 1.

These modules are taught through a mixture of traditional lectures, problem class learning, smaller group tutorials and practical and computer-based laboratory work. The module descriptors provide detailed synopses of each module with suggested study reading and are available on the KLE.

Five of the modules are taught within a single semester (two in semester 1 and three in semester 2). Three of the modules have elements of teaching and assessment over both semesters, though they are designed so that there is roughly equal student workload in each semester when considering the programme as a whole.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

PHY-10022 Mechanics, Gravity and Relativity

15

None

 

PHY-10024 Nature of Matter

15

   

PHY-10020 Oscillations and Waves

15

   

PHY-10021 Electricity and Magnetism

15

   

PHY-10030 Scientific Practice  

15

   

PHY-10028 Scientific  Programming

15

   

PHY-10032 Applied Mathematics and Statistics  

15

   

PHY-10031 Instrumentation Physics

15

   

 

Modules - Year Two

Year 2 (Level 5)

At level 5 students continue to be taught the fundamentals of Physics, with four core modules that directly address the IoP core curriculum and which are common to the combined honours programme. The additional core modules that are specific to the single honours programme further develop the skills of mathematical and computational analysis in semester 1. In the second semester the focus switches to the application of Physics, with modules looking at the uses of Physics in modern society and technology and a specific module dealing with the interactions of radiation with matter in the context of power generation, health applications and safety.

All of these modules are worth 15 credits and all modules are taught and assessed within a single semester.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

PHY-20006 Quantum Mechanics

15

None

 

PHY-20027 Optics and Thermodynamics

15

   

PHY-20026 Statistical Mechanics and Solid State Physics

15

   

PHY-20009 Nuclear and Particle Physics

15

   

PHY-20032  Mathematical Physics

15

   

PHY-20030 Numerical Methods

15

   

PHY-20033 Applied Physics and Emerging Technologies

15

   

PHY-20029 Radiation Physics

15

   

 

Modules - Year Three

Year 3 (Level 6)

At level 6 there are four core modules: Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics II and students will complete a dissertation and an independent research project. In addition, students will choose four option modules from a list of available modules. Note that not all option modules may run in any given year, dependent on student preferences and staff availability.

Compulsory modules

Credits

Optional modules

Credits

PHY-30012 Electromagnetism  

15

PHY-30001 Cosmology

15

PHY-30029 Quantum Mechanics II

15

PHY-30002 Physics of the Interstellar Medium

15

PHY-30007 Physics Project

15

PHY-30010 Polymer Physics

15

PHY-30015 Dissertation and Communication Skills   

15

PHY-30003 The Physics of Compact Objects

15

   

PHY-30033 Particle Physics and Accelerators  

15

   

PHY-30025 Life in the Universe

15

   

PHY-30024 Binary Stars and Extrasolar Planets

15

   

PHY-30030 Physics of Fluids

15

   

PHY-30031 Atmospheric Physics

15

   

PHY-30032 Plasma Physics

15

   

PHY-30027 Data Analysis and Model Testing

15

 

The Optional modules and their timing may vary each year depending on student preferences and staff availability.

Students may also take a 15 credit free elective module instead of one of the option modules above, subject to timetabling constraints.

 

Our teaching puts an emphasis on problem solving. This occurs in problem classes where practice problems are solved with staff and teaching assistants available to help; in laboratory teaching where practical and computational problems are addressed; and in directed work for assessment. Students are encouraged to call upon module leaders and year tutors for guidance. The staff will be willing to see students at almost any time (we operate an “open-door” policy) and there will be one-to-one progress interviews each semester. The teaching team will monitor progress and attendance, and will contact students if they are not achieving and advise on improvement strategies.

Students benefit from a flexible approach to learning the mathematical and computational skills that are essential to the learning and application of Physics. In years 1 and 2 there are dedicated Mathematics modules but Mathematics is also embedded as part of several other modules in each year. Similarly, although programming and computational skills are taught in specific modules, there is an expectation that these skills will increasingly be put into practice in later modules.

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