Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology BSc (Hons)

Light spectrum glasses on top of printed photographs of galaxies
UCAS Code
F301
Mode of Study
Full-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement
Duration
3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
Start Date
September 2020

Overview

We’re learning more about our universe, but there’s still much more to discover. Join us in expanding our knowledge of astrophysics on this BSc (Hons) Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree course.

You’ll deepen your understanding of the fundamental laws of physics, and apply this knowledge to the structure and behaviour of some of the largest and smallest elements of existence.

As well as gaining knowledge and skills in physics, astrophysics and cosmology, you’ll develop a combination of mathematical and computational knowledge that's sought after by employers in many industries.

TEF Gold Teaching Excellence Framework
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What you'll experience

On this course you’ll:

  • Be taught by leading scientists from the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG)
  • Explore stars, galaxies, black holes and gravitational waves
  • Use advanced equipment like SCIAMA, the University’s supercomputer
  • Access Hampshire Astronomical Group facilities at Clanfield Observatory, which are equipped with various telescopes including a 24-inch reflector
  • Go on visits to aerospace businesses like BAE Systems and Airbus Defence
  • Study at a university where physics research was ranked in the top 10 nationally for quality of research outputs in the latest Government-backed REF (Research Excellence Framework)
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Careers and opportunities

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service will help you find a job or identify further study and academic research opportunities.

What can you do with a Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree?

Previous students on this course have gone on to further study, research and employment in areas such as:

  • PhD and Master's study in cosmology, astrophysics, astronomy and theoretical physics
  • the space systems and aerospace industry
  • education
  • medical physics
  • finance
  • data analysis

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.

Year 1

Core modules

What you’ll do

You'll apply and develop your understanding of electricity and magnetism, and of their unification in Maxwell's electromagnetic theory.

You'll also explore the behaviour of devices and circuits.

What you’ll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the operation of electric and magnetic circuits and perform calculations of associated observable quantities
  • Use the basic laws of electromagnetism to calculate the behaviour of electric and magnetic fields coming from continuous and discrete sources
  • Describe the application of the laws of electromagnetism in applied technologies
Teaching activities

24 x 3-hour lectures

Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 128 hours studying independently. This is around 8 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • 2 x coursework exercises (25% of final mark, each)
  • a 90-minute written exam (50% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll learn coding and algorithms for simple data and function visualisation, iterative methods, and finite difference approaches to differential equations.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Create and analyse physical problems in terms of their key components and develop coherent mathematical models of physical systems shown as algorithms
  • Write computer programs that use simple models with appropriate numerical methods and a high-level language
  • Present model interfaces, documentation and reports in a clear and instinctive manner
  • Assess the accuracy and stability of computational models
  • Use computational methods for data analysis and visualisation
  • Use finite difference methods to solve simple differential equations
Teaching activities
  • 23 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 154 hours studying independently. This is around 9.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 4,000-word coursework project (100% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll also look at why assessing the limits of experimental procedures and errors in results is so important. In addition, the Module offers excellent employability skills and it has a strong employability focus.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Write a lab notebook to record an experiment, including hazard identification and considering safety aspects in the design and execution of experiments
  • Be confident using standard lab equipment
  • Interpret and present experimental results in a concise scientific report in standard form, critically assessing uncertainty in measurements where appropriate
  • Plan and assess the effectiveness of an experimental procedure and suggest possible improvements
  • Develop and use automated software procedures (as available in LabView software for example) for device control, digital data acquisition, prototyping and simulation
  • Identify and explain the key physics of experimental investigations and use data to test a hypothesis and describe the significance of results
Teaching activities
  • 6 x 1-hour lectures
  • 19 x 2-hour practical classes and workshops
  • 2 hours of demonstrations
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 154 hours studying independently. This is around 9.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a coursework portfolio (75% of final mark)
  • a practical skills assessment (25% of final mark)

What you'll do

In this module you'll study maths and mechanics in parallel to learn how maths can be used to describe. Learn how to turn a physical problem into mathematical form and develop an understanding of mathematical modelling and of the role of approximation. You'll experience a practical, problem-based active-learning approach in this module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Solve problems in the basic mathematics of trigonometry, elementary functions, two and three dimensional coordinate systems and applications in physical context
  • Understand units and dimensional analysis, and solve problems using simple approximations
  • Use suitable examples to describe the nature of a function and its derivative, and sketch a given function
  • Explain the geometrical significance of integrals and evaluate the integrals of elementary functions
  • Manipulate and differentiate vectors and solve problems in kinematics
  • Apply knowledge of basic probability and statistics in appropriate physics contexts. simple problems in Newtonian mechanics involving forces, energy and momentum
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
  • 24 x 1-hour tutorials
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 128 hours studying independently. This is around 8 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 12-week coursework portfolio (40% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll learn how to use maths to describe the physical world by studying maths and mechanics in parallel.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Solve problems in the dynamics of rigid bodies, in equilibrium and periodic motion
  • Solve problems in orbits and gravitation
  • Solve problems in the arithmetic of complex numbers
  • Solve elementary problems on series, hyperbolic functions, partial differentiation, coordinate systems and multiple integration
  • Solve problems on simple ordinary differential equations
  • Solve elementary problems on matrices and determinants
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
  • 12 x 2-hour tutorials
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 128 hours studying independently. This is around 8 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a portfolio (30% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (70% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll experience guest lecturers from various organisations such as medical physicists, financial market modellers, aerospace engineers and astronomers. You'll also take part in site visits such as to the Medical Physics Department at the main Portsmouth hospital, Clanfield Observatory and BAE systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Carry out literature research and attend talks and visits to develop your understanding of the wider role of physics/space science in the global context
  • Recognise the use of physics in different fields such as energy, astronomy, cosmology and relativity, waves, gravity and heat, presenting your knowledge in posters and oral presentations
  • Describe a case study of a particular aspect of physics in various contexts
  • Discuss the changing historical context of physics and astronomy and describe the problems that come from the attempt to understand the main character of scientific knowledge
  • Plan and prepare a written popular essay in a form suitable for public communication
  • Show a clear understanding of physics in your essay and review scientific papers on the topic
Teaching activities
  • 20 x 3-hour lectures
  • 6 hours of external visits
  • 6 x 1-hour seminars
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 128 hours studying independently. This is around 8 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 2,000-word coursework portfolio (50% of final mark)
  • a 1,500-word essay (50% of final mark)

Year 2

Core modules

What you'll do

This module develops your understanding of the basic concepts of modern physics and how physics is used to understand matter at different scales.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Evaluate the limits of classical theory that lead to the development of quantum theory, the historical development of wave and matrix mechanics and problems with their interpretation
  • Analytically solve the time-dependent and time-independent Schrödinger equation for various potentials (including the hydrogen atom) showing how quantum numbers come about and predicting the structure of atomic and molecular spectra
  • Analyse radioactive decay processes and nuclear fission and fusion
  • Describe nuclear structure
  • Describe the fundamental forces and the organisation of elementary particles in the Standard Model
  • Describe current ideas and associated theory about the structure and evolution of the Universe and the nature of objects in the Universe
  • Solve numerical problems in quantum, atomic and nuclear physics
Teaching activities
  • 23 x 2-hour lectures
  • 14 x 1-hour tutorials
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 140 hours studying independently. This is around 8.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 750-word portfolio (40% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll develop problem-solving skills and learn how to analyse and solve physical problems through the design, execution and evaluation of mathematical, scientific and computer-based methods and principles. You'll get critical and reflective knowledge and understanding of mathematical techniques, and be able to question its principles, practices and boundaries, developing your confidence and creativity to try different approaches on challenging problems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse and solve physical problems using partial differential equations
  • Analyse and solve problems of electrodynamics using differential equations and differential vector operators
  • Develop higher level skills in the solution of physical problems using mathematical techniques
  • Solve problems in the application of special relativity and time independent perturbation theory in quantum mechanics
Teaching activities
  • 20 x 2-hour lectures
  • 20 x 1-hour tutorials
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 140 hours studying independently. This is around 8.5 hours a week over the duration of the module

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word set of coursework exercises (40% of final mark) – multiple assessments, with a total of 1,500-words
  • a 90-minute exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll learn about microscopic models of matter and how they aim to explain the observed properties of bulk matter, based on quantum theory and statistical mechanics. You'll also develop an understanding of the main microscopic description while getting to know the historical relevance of thermodynamics.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Interpret the key concepts of classical thermodynamics
  • Perform calculations based on those key concepts
  • Analyse the key limits that thermodynamics puts on any processes that aim to transform heat into mechanical work
  • Discuss the connections between the statistical description and the observed bulk properties of a thermodynamic system
  • Perform calculations coming from a statistical description
Teaching activities
  • 18 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 164 hours studying independently. This is around 10 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • 2 x coursework exercises (25% of final mark, each)
  • a 90-minute exam (50% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll also look at the theory behind geometric optics as a key area of physics, especially for modern optics and optical systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the physics of oscillations including free, damped, forced and coupled oscillations, and resonance and normal modes
  • Discuss the physics of waves including harmonic waves, waves in arbitrary shapes, sound waves
  • Describe the basic principles behind Geometric optics, fundamentals of lasers, and optic cavaties
  • Discuss the theory behind interference and diffraction at single and multiple apertures, including diffraction grating
  • Design and analyse the performance of a simple optical system in the lab on an optical bench and on a virtual system
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
  • 12 x 1-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 140 hours studying independently. This is around 8.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 2,000-word written assignment (40% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute exam (60% of final mark)

Optional modules

What you’ll do

You'll develop skills in deterministic and stochastic computational methods as well as with more sophisticated programming techniques. You'll also get an understanding of the modelling process with examples from astrophysics and applied physics.

To choose this module you have to take the Introduction to Computational Physics module in year one.

What you’ll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Create and analyse physical problems in terms of their key components and develop understandable mathematical models of physical systems shown as algorithms
  • Use appropriate numerical methods to solve detailed physics problems
  • Use computational methods for data analysis and visualisation
  • Clearly present the results of computer simulations in a scientific paper
  • Use good software engineering and optimisation practices to build scientific computing code
Teaching activities

23 x 2-hour practical classes and workshops.

Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 154 hours studying independently. This is around 9.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 750-word portfolio (40% of final mark)
  • a 1,250-word coursework project (60% of final mark)

What you’ll do

You'll get the opportunity to put your learning from the first two years of the degree into practice, improving your chances of securing a professional level role upon graduation.

This module will give you experience applying physics in real world scenarios, in different industries and sectors.

What you’ll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Evaluate your learning, personal development and future career opportunities
  • Describe tasks undertaken and responsibilities held in the course of (self)employment
  • Recognise your employability as a graduate, as a result of your placement experience
Teaching activities
  • 5 x 1-hour seminars
  • 195 hours of placement
Independent study time

N/A

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through a 4,000-word coursework portfolio (100% of final mark).

What you'll do

You'll enter at the appropriate level for your existing language knowledge. If you combine this module with language study in your first or third year, you can turn this module into a certificated course that is aligned with the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFRL).

What you'll learn

When you complete this module:

  • You'll have improved your linguistic skills in Arabic, British Sign Language, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, French, German or Spanish
  • You'll be prepared for Erasmus study abroad
Teaching activities
  • 12 x 2-hour seminars
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 176 hours studying independently. This is around 10 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through: 

  • coursework (100% of final mark) 

What you'll do

You'll then study linear and nonlinear differential and difference equations in the context of methods and techniques of dynamical systems.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Model simple mechanical systems (for example a double pendulum) in terms of coordinates and velocities
  • Derive a special function known as a ""Langrarian"", from which the equations of motion (a set of differential equations) are derived
  • Simulate/solve these equations, taking advantage of any symmetry in the model, to predict the behaviour of the system
  • Broaden the context of the study of differential/difference equations in general, both linear and nonlinear
  • Use special techniques to describe the qualitative behaviour of the solutions to these equations
Teaching activities
  • 23 x 2-hour lectures
  • 23 x 1-hour seminars
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 131 hours studying independently. This is around 8 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • 2 x coursework exercises (15% of final mark, each)
  • a 2-hour written exam (70% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll learn how to come up with and test hypotheses, critically evaluate arguments, assumptions and data, make judgements and ask questions to get a solution, or get various solutions in line with the results of theoretical and/or computational models. You'll develop confidence and creativity when trying different approaches to challenging problems, work well as part of a team, and provide leadership to support the success of others. 

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Evaluate literature and information from a variety of sources to frame, design and develop procedures and investigations to solve real-world problem scenarios
  • Plan, design and implement computational, lab and field investigations to solve problem scenarios, complying with safety standards
  • Evaluate the procedures (for improvement) and results, assessing the underlying physics, statistical significance, reliability, accuracy and usefulness of the data and the conclusions
  • Plan and prepare written reports of your investigations in the form of industry standard project reports and scientific publications
  • Plan and prepare poster and oral presentations of your investigations at a standard of the scientific conference
  • Critically evaluate your future options and demonstrate knowledge of the career and progression opportunities open to you
Teaching activities
  • 2 x 3-hour lectures
  • 26 x 2-hour practical classes and workshops
  • 3 hours of demonstrations
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 139 hours studying independently. This is around 8.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a portfolio (100% of final mark) – a combination of practical activities as registered in your lab notebook, written up lab reports, PBL (Problem-Based Learning) oral presentation assessment, and a PBL report in the format of a scientific paper (up to 2500 words)

What you'll do

You'll develop your understanding in celestial coordinate systems, telescope design, comparative planetology, stellar evolution, the formation and evolution of galaxies, and the dynamics and matter content Universe.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Derive and apply mathematical equations to solve astronomical problems
  • Identify and apply physical principles underlying the properties and behaviour of planets, stars and galaxies
  • Make astronomical observations and analyse the results with appropriate software
Teaching activities
  • 12 x 2-hour lectures
  • 12 x 2-hour seminars
  • 12 x 2-hour practical classes and workshops
  • 18 hours of external visits
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 110 hours studying independently. This is around 6.5 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • an 80-minute set practical exercise (50% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute written exam (50% of final mark)
  • an 18-hour practical skills coursework assessment (pass/fail)

Year 3

Core modules

What you'll do

You'll consider  the physics of stars, black holes and galaxies, and their formation mechanisms. To choose this module, you need to take the Mathematical Physics, and Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse fundamental physical processes in astrophysics, and apply them to the physics of stars, black holes and galaxies in multiple contexts
  • Apply the physics of gravitational collapse to solve problems related to the formation of stars and galaxies, and compact objects
  • Demonstrate your understanding of fundamental nuclear reactions and energetic balance, and evaluate the energetics of stars and galaxies
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the quest for dark matter in galaxy formation and evolution and evaluate the observational evidence
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 2-hour written exam (100% of final mark)

What you'll do

On this module you'll get an explanation of the big bang model and its success in explaining observations of primordial nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background. You'll explore how gravitational collapse formed large scale structures and you'll explore theories of the very early universe, such as cosmological inflation.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the observational evidence and theoretical basis for the big bang model of the universe
  • Work out the behaviour of a cosmological model filled with different types of matter, including radiation, dust, curvature and dark energy
  • Critically evaluate the observational evidence for dark matter and dark energy and how they're quantified in terms of their cosmological density
  • Apply the principles of thermodynamics to solve problems related to the thermal history of the universe, such as primordial nucleosynthesis and proton-electron recombination
  • Apply the physics of gravitational collapse to solve problems related to the formation of large scale structures
  • Critically evaluate the weaknesses in the big bang model and assess solutions offered by models of the very early universe, in particular cosmological inflation
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word coursework exercise (40% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

Developments in physics are crucial in achieving sustainability and dealing with the effects of climate change. On this module you'll learn about solid state physics, condense matters and the technologies using them and new developments in detector technology.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the theory and physical rules behind the foundation of bonding energy and crystal structures, magnetic properties and phonons
  • Explain mechanical and electrical properties of matter according to classical and quantum mechanics physics
  • Examine and explain core topics in semiconductor physics and the relevant properties of the materials used and band structure
  • Analyse and explain the operation and behaviour of solid state detectors
  • Compare and evaluate the benefits of different solid-state detectors and critically discuss the use of a particular solid state detector
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word written assignment (40% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (60% of final mark)

Optional modules

What you'll do

You'll apply your knowledge of physics and mathematics to tackle problems that have been identified by commercial or research organisations. You'll take part in experimental investigation, theoretical work and/or modelling. Many of our projects are run with industrial input from companies such as DSTL, BAE Systems and Queen Alexandra Hospital.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Develop, plan, manage and execute a group research project organising and acting as a team to investigate, create and critically assess solutions to a problem
  • Search, retrieve and creatively combine evidence and information from relevant literature and each other to hypothesise, develop and test ideas to achieve project aims as a group
  • Demonstrate expertise and adapt or develop new skills or procedures to achieve project aims in the group
  • Use a variety of theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques combining information, theory and data to achieve project aims
  • Show your awareness and ability to manage implications of ethical demands in scientific research
  • Present a clear and concise report in a peer reviewed journal style and defend the project during a poster presentation
Teaching activities
  • 3 x 1-hour lectures
  • 12 hours of project supervision
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 185 hours studying independently. This is around 11 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 2,000-word written group project proposal (25% of final mark) - including a literature review and health and safety considerations
  • a 3,000-word formal written project report (75% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll develop a critical and reflective knowledge of health physics and be able to question its principles, practices and boundaries. You'll analyse physical principles and how they're applied to techniques used in the current healthcare and research setting. 

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse the physical basis of techniques used in the current healthcare setting
  • Review and critically evaluate current literature about the applications of physics in the healthcare setting
Teaching activities
  • 13 x 3-hour lectures
  • 3 x 1-hour seminars
  • 3 x 1-hour tutorials
  • 3 hours of demonstrations
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 4,000-word coursework portfolio (100% of final mark)

What you'll do

To choose this module, Physics students need to take the Mathematical Physics (level 5) and Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics (level 5) modules. To take this module, Maths students need to take the Applied Mathematics (level 5) module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Analyse the 4-dimensional spacetime formulation of Special Relativity
  • Carry out basic calculations in tensor algebra and calculus, and apply these to physical problems
  • Apply Einstein field equations to the calculation of the simplest exact and approximate solutions for relativistic stars and black holes and in cosmology, as well as in the weak field regime and for gravitational waves
  • Analyse a problem and associate it with the physical and mathematical principle of General Relativity
  • Apply the specific mathematical techniques of General Relativity to solve exercises and problems, conceptualising and generalising from previously seen problems
  • Discuss the use of physical and mathematical principles and hypotheses in the solution of exercises and problems
Teaching activities

24 x 2-hour lectures

Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a coursework portfolio (60% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (40% of final mark)

What you'll do

On this module you'll get an introduction to solid-state multiferroic materials, the most interesting functional materials because of their rich properties that combine electric, magnetic and elastic order states in solids. When multiferroic materials combine with order states they display features that make them unique for technological applications and the purpose of this module is understand this emerging field of science and research.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Use the basic laws of physics to explain and predict the behaviour of functional materials
  • Design, evaluate and implement advanced applications based on magnetic, ferroelectric and piezo-ferroic materials
  • Critically asses the structural requirements of multiferroic material for sensors and systems
  • Design new potential technological applications based on advanced multiferroic materials
Teaching activities
  • 21 x 2-hour lectures
  • 2 hours of external visits
  • 4 hours of demonstrations
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 2,000-word written assignment (40% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll also develop the mathematical techniques needed for applications of physics and scientific modelling, especially those grounded in theory.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Apply advanced matrix algebra, vector calculus and complex calculus to carry out calculations in physical problems
  • Analyse general properties of ordinary differential equations and apply their techniques to solve physical problems.
  • Identify types of partial differential equations (PDEs) and calculate the solution of simple PDEs using various techniques
  • Analyse a problem and link it to physical and mathematical principles
  • Apply specific mathematical techniques to the solution of exercises and problems using what you've learned in previous problems
  • Debate the use of physical and mathematical principles and hypotheses in the solution of exercises and problems
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word coursework exercise (40% of final mark)
  • a 2-hour written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll look at the current physical-chemical methods of study as well as the systems and materials based on nanometer objects. You'll also learn about density functional theory (DFT), the concepts of the atomic and electronic structure of solids, and the basic numerical methods for calculating that structure.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Plan and conduct material growth with the use of a Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) system
  • Apply experimental and theoretical methods to characterise properties of objects at the nanometer scale
  • Assess and interpret experimental and theoretical results
Teaching activities
  • 14 x 2-hour lectures
  • 4 hours of demonstrations
  • 8 x 1-hour tutorials
  • 8 x 1-hour seminars
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 20-minute oral assessment and presentation (40% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute written exam (60% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll look at the basic constituents of matter, the nature of the interactions between these constituents and how they describe the fundamental Universe, and you'll discuss the principles, technology and physics of particle accelerators and detectors. To choose this module, you need to take the Introduction to Modern Physics and Astrophysics module and the Mathematical Physics module.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the main features of the Standard Model and its place in fundamental physics, including the key theoretical ideas and the experimental evidence
  • Apply mathematical symmetries to explain concepts of key particle physics
  • Critically evaluate how probing space-time at the smallest scales contributes to our understanding of the large-scale evolution of the Universe
  • Perform basic calculations of physically observable quantities to solve problems in particle physics
  • Discuss the basic experimental techniques used to build high energy accelerators and how they're applied in fixed target, collider and neutrino beam experiments at the energy and intensity frontiers
  • Understand the design, construction and physics of key particle physics detectors and sensors, and appreciate their application in other fields such as medical imaging
Teaching activities
  • 24 x 2-hour lectures
  • Regular exercise sheets with model solutions to assist your understanding of material
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word coursework exercise (30% of final mark)
  • a 90-minute written exam (70% of final mark)

What you'll do

The project involves a supervised, independent, extended investigation of a problem using theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques where needed. You'll increase your independence in learning and research methods as well as your initiative, originality, scientific creativity, technical judgement, analytical ability and communication skills. Many of our projects are run with industrial input from companies such as DSTL, BAE Systems and Queen Alexandra Hospital.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Independently develop, plan, manage and complete a research project to investigate, formulate and critically assess solutions to a defined problem
  • Search, retrieve and creatively combine evidence and information from relevant literature to hypothesise and develop ideas to achieve project aims
  • Show your expertise, adapting or developing new skills or procedures to achieve the project aims
  • Use theoretical, experimental, observational, computational or other techniques combining information, theory and data to achieve project aims
  • Show your awareness and ability to manage implications of ethical demands of scientific research
  • Present a clear and concise report in a peer reviewed journal style and defend the project during a poster presentation
Teaching activities
  • 3 x 1-hour lectures
  • 12 hours of project supervision
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 185 hours studying independently. This is around 11 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 1,500-word coursework portfolio (25% of final mark)
  • a 2,500-word dissertation (75% of final mark)

What you'll do

You'll learn how quantum physics also plays an increasing role in the development of new technologies that use quantum information. On this module you'll develop the theory and application skills to enable you to contribute to this expanding field.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Use advanced techniques in quantum theory to account for the observed quantum mechanical behaviour of light and matter
  • Discriminate and critically evaluate approaches to the interpretation of quantum theory
  • Create and solve problems in quantum theory and quantum information using Dirac notation
  • Analyse experiments in quantum optics and its applications in quantum information
  • Develop a critical understanding of the physics that make up quantum information schemes
Teaching activities
  • 20 x 2-hour lectures
  • 8 x 1-hour tutorials
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 152 hours studying independently. This is around 9 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a 90-minute exam (60% of final mark)
  • a 15-minute oral assessment and presentation (40% of final mark)

What you'll do

Over ten half-days, you'll be mentored by a maths teacher as you gain experience of teaching mathematics, leading special projects and offering classroom support. To choose this module, you need to show you know the fundamental concepts of basic probability, calculus and linear algebra.

What you'll learn

When you complete this module successfully, you'll be able to:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of teaching mathematics, and of educational theories and debates
  • Work in a challenging and unpredictable working environment
  • Communicate difficult principles or concepts, whether you're speaking one-to-one or to an audience
  • Reflect on stereotypes of mathematics and mathematicians, and how to combat them
Teaching activities
  • 9 x 2-hour practical classes and workshops
  • 20 hours of placement
Independent study time

We recommend you spend at least 182 hours studying independently. This is around 11 hours a week over the duration of the module.

Assessment

On this module, you'll be assessed through:

  • a set coursework exercise (100% of final mark)

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

The opportunities granted to us at Portsmouth provide the backbone that inspires us to succeed. I am comforted to know that my career could go anywhere from here; there really are no limits to where a physicist can go.

Patrick Rennie, Physics Student

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

  • laboratory reports
  • individual or group presentations and posters
  • coursework problem sheets
  • computer modelling reports
  • open and closed book examination

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year 1 students: 28% by written exams and 72% by coursework
  • Year 2 students: 47% by written exams, 4% by practical exams and 49% by coursework
  • Year 3 students: 43% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 50% by coursework

Work experience and career planning

To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course. We can help you identify placements, internships and voluntary opportunities that will complement your studies.

You may be able to do a placement through the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Bursary Scheme. This 8-week placement includes a £2000 bursary.

Teaching

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • laboratory work
  • problem-based learning exercises
  • computational physics workshops
  • external site visits
  • project work

How you'll spend your time

One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.

At university, as well as spending time in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, you’ll do lots of independent study with support from our staff when you need it. 

A typical week

We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your BSc (Hons) Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and workshops for about 17 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.

Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. Optional field trips may involve evening and weekend teaching or events. There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.

Term times

The academic year runs from September to early June with breaks at Christmas and Easter. It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

  • September to December – teaching block 1
  • January – assessment period 1
  • January to May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
  • May to June – assessment period 2

Extra learning support

The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:

Personal tutor

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

Learning support tutors

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study in one-on-one and group sessions.

They can help you:

  • master the mathematics skills you need to excel on your course
  • understand engineering principles and how to apply them in any engineering discipline
  • solve computing problems relevant to your course
  • develop your knowledge of computer programming concepts and methods relevant to your course
  • understand and use assignment feedback

Laboratory support

All our labs and practical spaces are staffed by qualified laboratory support staff. They’ll support you in scheduled lab sessions and can give you one-to-one help when you do practical research projects.

Academic skills support

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

Library support

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

Support with English

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free English for Academic Purposes programme to improve your English further.

Maths and stats support

The Maths Cafe offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your maths skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

Entry requirements​

BSc (Hons) Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • 104 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent, with 32 points from A level Mathematics, Physics, or Electronics.

See the other qualifications we accept

English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

​Course costs

Tuition fees (2020 start)

  • UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £16,400 per year (subject to annual increase)

Additional course costs

These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

The cost of travel or accommodation associated with compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee. You will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs associated with compulsory fieldwork.

Apply

How to apply

To start this course in 2020, apply through UCAS. You’ll need:

  • the UCAS course code – F301
  • our institution code – P80

If you’d prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.

You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.

You can also sign up to an Open Day to:

  • tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
  • speak with lecturers and chat with our students 
  • get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join

If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.

How to apply from outside the UK

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section. 

If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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