Physics

Physics - BSc (Hons)
with a Foundation Year

Physics reaches from the quark out to the largest of galaxies, and encompasses all the matter and timescales within these extremes. Our foundation year gives those without the relevant scientific background, or who don't meet the entry requirements, the knowledge and skills needed to take on any of our Physics degrees. These in turn open up a wide range of excellent career opportunities.

Overview

At the heart of a professional physicist is a fascination with the ‘how and why’ of the material world around us. We aim to equip you with the skills to understand these phenomena and to qualify you for a range of career pathways.

The School of Physical Sciences is a dynamic multidisciplinary department, achieving national and international excellence in chemistry, forensic science and physics. We offer a broad training in physics, and provide an ideal preparation for a wide range of careers in the manufacturing and service industries as well as education, the media and the financial sector.

As a foundation year student, you are a full member of the University and can take part in all student activities.

Our degree programme

This programme is for science students who do not meet the requirements for direct entry to Stage 1 of our degree programmes. It is also an excellent conversion course for applicants who have shown academic ability in non-science subjects. We also consider applicants without traditional academic qualifications who have relevant professional experience.

In your foundation year, you study mathematics, physics, electronics and computing, and take part in practical classes. Successful completion of the foundation year guarantees entry onto any of the School’s Physics or Astronomy degree courses.

In the first year of the BSc, 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, statistical and analytical skills.

Your second year covers a broad range of subjects including medical physics, quantum physics, atomic and nuclear physics, electromagnetism and optics, and mathematical techniques.

In your final year, the combination of specialist modules and an attachment to one of our research teams opens avenues for even deeper exploration: for example, in space probe instrumentation, fibre optics, the atomic-scale structure of a new engineering material, or neutron scattering work.

Year in industry

It is possible to add a placement year to the degree programme and gain valuable work experience. For more details, see Physics with a Year in Industry.

Year abroad

In your third year of the BSc you could also opt to study abroad at one of our partner universities. For more details, see Physics with a Year Abroad.

Study resources

You have access to first-class research facilities in new laboratories. These are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including a full characterisation suite for materials, including:

  • three powder diffractometers
  • a single crystal diffractometer
  • x-ray fluorescence
  • instruments to measure magnetic and transport properties
  • a Raman spectrometer
  • scanning electron microscopes
  • optical coherence tomography imaging equipment
  • optical spectrum analysers
  • two-stage light gas gun for impact studies
  • on-campus Beacon Observatory.

The University is a member of the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), which offers a competitive programme of summer internships to Stage 2 and 3 undergraduates.

Extra activities

The School of Physical Sciences is home to an international scientific community of forensic science, chemistry, physics and astronomy students. Numerous formal and informal opportunities for discussion make it easy to participate in the academic life of the School. All students have an academic adviser and we also run a peer mentoring scheme.

You are encouraged to participate in conferences and professional events to build up your knowledge of the science community and enhance your professional development. The School also works collaboratively with business partners, which allows you to see how our research influences current practice.

You can also take part in:

  • the School’s Physical Sciences Colloquia, a popular series of talks given by internal and external experts on relevant and current topics
  • the student-run Physics and Space Societies, which organise talks with top industry professionals, practical demonstrations and social events

Professional networks

The School of Physical Sciences also has links with:

  • the Home Office
  • optical laboratories
  • local health authorities
  • aerospace/defence industries
  • software and engineering companies
  • Interpol.

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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

    For those with a relevant science qualification our standard offer is CDD with one of these to be Maths or Physics. For those without a relevant science qualification, our standard offer is BCC. 

  • 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 National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) in a relevant Science or Engineering subject at 120 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

    24 points overall, or 11 at HL including HL Maths/Maths Method or HL Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches at 4 or HL Maths Studies at 5.

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    N/A

  • medal-empty T level

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

Please contact the School for more information at study-physics@kent.ac.uk.  

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

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 course structure below gives a flavour of the modules and provides details of the content of this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

In the foundation year and at Stage 1 of this programme, the modules listed are compulsory.

After successfully completing the foundation year you can transfer on to any three or four year Physics or Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics courses. For more information about specific modules for stages 1-4, please refer to:

Fees

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

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £16400
  • International full-time £21900

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.

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.

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 and 3 assessments with maximum weight applied to the final stage.

Please note that you must pass all modules of the foundation year in order to progress onto stage 1.

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.
  • Enhance an appreciation of the application of physics in different contexts.
  • 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.
  • 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 and skills base from which they can proceed to Stage 1 of any of the Physics or Physics-based degrees at the University of Kent.
  • Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding in physical laws and principles and their applications. Areas covered include:

  • Laws of motion.
  • Electromagnetism.
  • Wave phenomena and the properties of matter.
  • Necessary aspects of mathematics.

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.
  • Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical phenomena.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • How to to present and interpret information graphically.
  • Communicating scientific information, in particular producing 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.
  • Making use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning.

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.

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

Graduate destinations

Kent Physics graduates have an excellent employment record with recent graduates going on to work for employers:

  • Defence Science and Technology
  • Rolls Royce
  • Siemens
  • IBM

Career-enhancing skills

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.

You can also enhance your degree studies by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Help finding a job

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Professional recognition

Fully accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Apply for Physics with a Foundation Year - BSc (Hons)

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.

Find out more about how to apply

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International applicants

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

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

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Physics and Astronomy

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