Physics with Astrophysics - MPhys
with a Year Abroad

Physics reaches from the quark out to the largest of galaxies, and encompasses all the matter and timescales within these extremes, while Astrophysics emphasises the underlying physical concepts of the stars and galaxies, which make up the Universe.

Overview

This course provides an understanding of the physical nature of bodies and processes in space, and the instruments and techniques used in modern astronomical research.

Our four-year MPhys with a Year Abroad course gives you the opportunity to work with an academic in one of our research groups and carry out an in-depth project connected with our research. Develop the transferable skills to open up a world of job opportunities, leading to careers in research, engineering, aerospace/defence, medical physics, teaching, finance and data analytics.

Studying for a Year Abroad provides a wealth of personal and professional benefits, including establishing international contacts and enhancing your employability. You will study at one of our partner universities around the world, experience a different culture, enhance your employability and grow in self-confidence.

This course is fully accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Reasons to study Physics with Astrophysics at Kent

  • Excellent teaching and research facilities including state-of-the-art laboratories, photonics centre and Beacon Observatory.
  • Our expert lecturers are both innovative teachers and active researchers working at the cutting-edge of research across a range of fields, from quantum materials to medical imaging.
  • Students meet regularly with their academic adviser to support their academic and career development.
  • Learn in a variety of settings, from lectures and interactive workshops to laboratory classes, computing sessions and team projects.
  • Flexible curriculum allows you to move between our courses in the earlier years, ensuring you are studying the best course for you.
  • Join our student-run societies: PhySoc, SpaceSoc and Amateur Rocketry Society, who organise talks, practical demonstrations and social events.
  • Benefit from our membership of the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), which offers a competitive programme of summer internships, career-focused events, advice and a wider physics community.
  • Build the connections that matter thanks to our links with optical laboratories, local health authorities, aerospace/defence industries and software and engineering companies.
  • A dedicated foundation year makes our course accessible to those without a science background.

What you'll learn

Astrophysics emphasises the underlying physical concepts of the stars and galaxies, which make up the Universe. This provides an understanding of the physical nature of bodies and processes in space and the instruments and techniques used in modern astronomical research.

In your first year, you get to grips with the broad knowledge base on which physical science is built, including electricity and light, mathematics, mechanics, thermodynamics and matter. You also develop your experimental, computational, statistical and analytical skills.

Your second and final years include a broad range of modules such as quantum mechanics, solid state, atomic, nuclear and particle physics, electromagnetism and optics, and mathematical techniques as well as the mulitwavelength universe exoplanets and stars, galaxies and the universe.

You spend the third year of your degree at one of our global partner universities, which have previously included institutions in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Switzerland. You study equivalent courses to those you would take at Kent. This programme is also offered without a year abroad. For details, see Physics with Astrophysics - MPhys.

See the modules you'll study

Foundation Year

If you do not have the grades or scientific background for direct entry to the degree, you have the option of the Physics Foundation Year. Upon successful completion of this year, you are able to progress to any of our Physics, Physics with Astrophysics, or Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics degrees.

School of Physics and Astronomy

The School of Physics and Astronomy is a welcoming and supportive environment with a lively student community. Our physics teaching is underpinned by our research strengths in quantum materials, applied optics and imaging, and astrophysics and planetary science, giving you the chance to learn from experts and providing opportunities to become involved in our research.

The flexible curriculum at Kent allows you to move between our range of physics-based courses in the early years, helping you find the right course for you. The student-run Physics, Space and Amateur Rocketry societies organise talks, practical demonstrations, trips and social events, and the School offers a programme of talks and careers events, including the annual Stephen Gray lecture.

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Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. All applications are assessed on an individual basis but some of our typical requirements are listed below. Students offering qualifications not listed are welcome to contact our Admissions Team for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

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    A level

    BBB, including A level Mathematics or Physics at BB (not Use of Mathematics)

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University welcomes applications from Access to Higher Education Diploma candidates for consideration. A typical offer may require you to obtain a proportion of Level 3 credits in relevant subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Nationals

    The University will consider applicants holding/studying BTEC Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) in a relevant Science or Engineering subject at 180 credits or more, on a case by case basis. Please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances.

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

    30 points overall or 14 points at Higher Level including HL Physics at 5 or SL Physics at 6 and either HL Maths/Maths Methods/Maths: Analysis and Approaches at 5 or SL Maths/Maths Methods at 6 (Note Maths Studies/SL Maths: Applications & Interpretations is not acceptable).

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    N/A

  • medal-empty T level

    The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.

Please contact our Admissions Team for more information at studynats@kent.ac.uk

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of science/mathematics ready for undergraduate study, we offer a Foundation Year programme which can help boost your previous scientific experience.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events. 

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

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Course structure

Duration: 4 years full-time

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this course. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

At all stages in this course, the modules listed are compulsory.

Fees

The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9,250
  • EU full-time £16,400
  • International full-time £21,900

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for year in industry

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for year abroad

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.

Additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is by lectures, practical classes, tutorials and workshops. You have an average of nine one-hour lectures, one or two days of practical or project work and a number of workshops each week. The practical modules include specific study skills in Physics and general communication skills. In the MPhys final year, you work with a member of staff on an experimental or computing project.

Assessment is by written examinations at the end of each year and by continuous assessment of practical classes and other written assignments. Your final degree result is made up of a combined mark from the Stage 2/4 assessments with a 40/60 weighting. Stage 3 is assessed as a pass or fail. 

Please note that there are degree thresholds at stages 1 and 2 that you will be required to pass in order to continue onto the next stages. If you do not meet the thresholds at stage 1 and 2 you will be required to change your registration for the equivalent MPhys programme without the Year Abroad option.

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Foster an enthusiasm for physics by exploring the ways in which it is core to our understanding of nature and fundamental to many other scientific disciplines.
  • Develop an appreciation of the importance of astrophysics and its role in understanding how our universe came about and how it continues to exist and develop.
  • To meet the needs of those students who wish to enter careers as professional research physicists and/or astrophysicists in industrial, university or other settings.
  • To enhance an appreciation of the application of physics in different contexts.
  • Foster an enthusiasm for astrophysics and an appreciation of its application in current research.
  • Involve students in a stimulating and satisfying experience of learning within a research-led environment.
  • Motivate and support a wide range of students in their endeavours to realise their academic potential.
  • Provide students with a balanced foundation of physics knowledge and practical skills and an understanding of scientific methodology.
  • Enable students to undertake and report on an experimental and/or theoretical investigation and base this in part on an extended research project.
  • Develop in students a range of transferable skills of general value.
  • Enable students to apply their skills and understanding to the solution of theoretical and practical problems.
  • Provide students with a knowledge base that allows them to progress into more specialised areas of physics and space science, or into multi-disciplinary areas involving physical principles; the MPhys is particularly useful for those wishing to undertake physics research.
  • Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts.
  • To provide the opportunity for students to broaden their experience through studying abroad.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

MPhys students gain a systematic understanding of most fundamental laws and principles of physics and astrophysics, along with their application to a variety of areas in physics and/or astrophysics, some of which are at the forefront of the discipline.

The areas covered include:

  • Electromagnetism.
  • Classical and quantum mechanics.
  • Statistical physics and thermodynamics.
  • Wave phenomena and the properties of matter as fundamental aspects.
  • Nuclear and particle physics.
  • Condensed matter physics.
  • Materials.
  • Plasmas and fluids.

Intellectual skills

You gain intellectual skills in how to:

  • Identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems and make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • Solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • Execute an experiment or investigation, analyse the results and draw valid conclusions.
  • Evaluate the level of uncertainty in experimental results and compare the results to expected outcomes, theoretical predictions or published data in order to evaluate their significance.
  • Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical phenomena.
  • An ability to comment critically on how telescopes (operating at various wavelengths) are designed, their principles of operation, and their use in astronomy and astrophysics research.

As an MPhys student, you also develop:

  • An ability to solve advanced problems in physics using mathematical tools, to translate problems into mathematical statements and apply their knowledge to obtain order of magnitude or more precise solutions as appropriate.
  • An ability to interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena.
  • An ability to plan an experiment or investigation under supervision and to understand the significance of error analysis.
  • A working knowledge of a variety of experimental, mathematical and/or computational techniques applicable to current research within physics.
  • An enhanced ability to work within in the astrophysics area that is well matched to the frontiers of knowledge, the science drivers that underpin government funded research and the commercial activity that provides hardware or software solutions to challenging scientific problems in these fields


Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • The use of communications and IT packages for the retrieval of information and analysis of data.
  • How to present and interpret information graphically.
  • The ability to communicate scientific information, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
  • The use of laboratory apparatus and techniques, including aspects of health and safety.
  • The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning.

As an MPhys student, you also gain:

  • IT skills which show fluency at the level needed for project work, such as familiarity with a programming language, simulation software or the use of mathematical packages for manipulation and numerical solution of equations.
  • An ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusion of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively.
  • Experimental skills showing the competent use of specialised equipment, the ability to identify appropriate pieces of equipment and to master new techniques.
  • An ability to make use of research articles and other primary sources.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in:

  • Problem-solving including the ability to formulate problems in precise terms, identify key issues and have the confidence to try different approaches.
  • Independent investigative skills including the use of textbooks, other literature, databases and interaction with colleagues.
  • Communication skills when dealing with surprising ideas and difficult concepts, including listening carefully, reading demanding texts and presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Analytical skills including the ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, construct logical arguments, use technical language correctly and pay attention to detail.
  • Personal skills including the ability to work independently, use initiative, organise your time to meet deadlines and interact constructively with other people.
  • The ability to study within a different educational system and live in a foreign country.

Independent rankings

Over 86% of final-year Physics students were satisfied with the quality of the teaching on their course in The Guardian University Guide 2023.

Careers

Your future

You graduate with an excellent grounding in scientific knowledge and extensive laboratory experience. In addition, you also develop the key transferable skills sought by employers, such as: excellent communication skills work independently or as part of a team the ability to solve problems and think analytically time management. This means that our graduates are well equipped for careers across a range of fields and have gone on to work for companies such as BAE, Defence Science and Technology, Rolls Royce, Siemens and IBM. You can read some of their stories, and find out about the range of support and extra opportunities available to further your career potential here.

Professional recognition

Fully accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Apply for Physics with Astrophysics with a Year Abroad - MPhys

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can apply through UCAS or directly on our website if you have never used UCAS and you do not intend to use UCAS in the future.

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T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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