Physics with Astrophysics 

(2018 Entry)

BSc (Hons)

Physics with Astrophysics students at Keele learn to apply their knowledge to scenarios that push the fundamental laws of physics to their extremes.

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

UCAS code: F301

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Course Overview

Astrophysicists seek to understand the universe, from its smallest constituents to the largest possible scales. The language of our universe is physics and mathematics; our Physics with Astrophysics students study these, along with computational and statistical techniques, and apply what they learn to tackling problems as diverse as stellar interiors, galaxies, black holes and the evolution of the universe itself. Along the way, you will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of physics and the essential ability to plan investigations, analyse results and to report and present your work. Your course will be informed by the research interests of staff: primarily astrophysics and condensed matter physics, all of whom contribute to the teaching programme. Regular laboratory sessions, including access to our own on-campus observatory, enable you to investigate unfamiliar phenomena and develop valuable transferable skills such as scientific writing and programming. We operate an open-door policy that gives excellent and flexible access to staff in seeking advice and feedback.

Single Honours Physics with Astrophysics goes beyond the Dual Honours Astrophysics programme, both in terms of breadth and depth, with additional emphasis on mathematics and computing as tools for astrophysical problem-solving.

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. A Physics with Astrophysics degree from Keele will prepare you for many different careers. Employers value numerate, versatile graduates who can analyse, investigate and communicate. You could take up roles as a research scientist, medical physicist or enter the space, telecommunications or nuclear industries. Or instead, you may find employment that is not directly related to physics or astrophysics, such as a science writer, chartered accountant or IT consultant. Many of our graduates go on to study for masters degrees or perform research at a doctoral level.

Indicative modules

First Year

  • Mechanics, Gravity and Relativity
  • Nature of Matter
  • Oscillations and Waves
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics
  • Scientific Practice
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Scientific Programming

Second Year

  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Optics and Thermodynamics
  • Stellar Astrophysics
  • Numerical Methods
  • Mathematical Physics
  • The Physics of Galaxies
  • Statistical Mechanics and Solid State Physics
  • Applied Physics and Emerging Technologies

Third Year

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

A summary of the credit requirements per year is as follows, with a minimum of 90 subject credits (compulsory plus optional) required for each year.

 

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/Astrophysics students require a common knowledge and skills base. In the Single Honours Physics with Astrophysics programme students study eight core 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 introduce Astrophysics and develop much broader physical, mathematical, computational, statistical and laboratory competencies. There is one module and several other components of laboratory, observatory and project work that are distinct from the single honours Physics 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-10029 Introduction to  Astronomy and Stellar Structure

15

   

PHY-10030 Scientific Practice  

15

   

PHY-10028 Scientific  Programming

15

   

PHY-10032 Applied Mathematics and Statistics  

15

   

Modules - Year Two

Year 2 (Level 5)

At level 5 students continue to be taught the fundamentals of Physics/Astrophysics, with three core modules that directly address the IoP core physics curriculum, two core modules dealing with the astrophysical fundamentals of Stellar structure and Galaxies, and additional core modules that are specific to the single honours programmes that further develop the skills of mathematical and computational analysis and discuss the application of physics to contemporary topics such as power generation, novel technologies and the environment.

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-20002 Stellar Astrophysics

15

   

PHY-20032  Mathematical Physics

15

   

PHY-20033  Applied Physics and Emerging Technologies

15

   

PHY-20030 Numerical Methods

15

   

PHY-20028 Galaxies

15

   

Modules - Year Three

Year 3 (Level 6)

At level 6 there are four core modules: Electromagnetism, Cosmology and students will complete a dissertation and a research project that combines elements of team and individual work. 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-30002 Physics of the Interstellar Medium

15

PHY-30006 Astrophysics Project and Communication Skills

15

PHY-30003 The Physics of Compact Objects

15

PHY-30017 Astrophysics Dissertation and Communication Skills   

15

PHY-30010 Polymer Physics

15

PHY-30001 Cosmology

15

PHY-30024 Binary Stars and Extrasolar Planets

15

   

PHY-30033 Particle Physics and Accelerators  

15

   

PHY-30031 Atmospheric Physics

15

   

PHY-30027 Data Analysis and Model Testing

15

   

PHY-30032 Plasma Physics

15

   

PHY-30025 Life in the Universe

15

   

PHY-30029 Quantum Mechanics II

15

   

PHY-30030 Physics of Fluids

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 (Astro)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