Physics reaches from the quark out to the largest of galaxies, and encompasses all the matter and timescales within these extremes. 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.
Choosing Kent as your firm choice for this programme could result in a lower tariff offer than those listed below. Please contact the School for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All applications will be considered individually but will vary depending on whether or not you have a relevant science qualification.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
Please note that meeting this typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee an offer being made.Please also see our general entry requirements.
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
For those with a relevant science qualification our standard offer is CD/ DD. For those without a relevant science qualification, our standard offer is BB.
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.
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.
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.
However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
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. Please refer to the BSc Physics; BSc Physics with a Year in Industry; MPhys Physics; MPhys Physics with a Year Abroad; BSc Physics with Astrophysics; BSc Physics with Astrophysics with a Year in Industry; MPhys Physics with Astrophysics; MPhys Physics with Astrophysics with a Year Abroad; BSc Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics; BSc Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics with a Year in Industry; MPhys Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics; MPhys Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics with a Year Abroad for more information about specific modules for stages 1-4.
This module introduces students to the mathematics of calculus and its applications in engineering. Examples classes are provided to support the student learning.
This module introduces students to the basic principles of electro-magnetism and electrostatics that are necessary in order to understand modern electronic and communications systems. Practical work and examples classes are included to assist the student learning.
Simplification of fractions
Percentages and fractional changes
Logarithmic and exponential functions
Basic rules (operations and indices).
Solving equations (substitution and order of operation).
Changing subject of a formula
Rules of indices
Expansion and Factorisation
Solving linear and simultaneous equations
Graphical methods are powerful, visual tools to illustrate relationships in theories, and in experimental quantities, pertaining to physical phenomena. They involve knowledge of, and visual representation of mathematical functions frequently encountered in the physical sciences. The topics covered are expected to include:
Graphs of functions including straight lines, quadratics, 1/x and 1/x2.
Parametric equations for curves, including use in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Coordinate geometry of lines and circles, including calculations with angles in radians.
Trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent), and reciprocal and inverse trigonometric functions.
Formulae involving small angles, sums of angles, and products of trigonometric functions.
Solving trigonometric equations in the context of modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Vectors in one, two and three dimensions, and notations for representing them.
Algebraic operations of vector addition and multiplication by scalars.
Use of vectors in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.
Dimensional analysis. Dynamics; distance, velocity and acceleration time graphs.
Newton's Laws applied to coupled objects.
Work against gravity.
Energy; potential energy and kinetic energy.
Conservation of energy.
Conservation of linear momentum
Moment of inertia.
Resolution of forces.
Triangle of forces; moments.
Force fields; gravitational, etc.
Potential energy in fields
(i) Types of waves. Characteristics of a wave:- frequency, period, amplitude, wavelength and velocity. Introduction to transverse and longitudinal waves and polarisation. c = f?
(ii) Properties of Waves. Qualitative description of the properties of waves; motion, reflection, refraction (Snell's law), dispersion, diffraction, interference, standing waves.
(iii) Sound Waves. Description of sound - loudness, noise, note, pitch, intensity, intensity level. Properties of sound - reflection, refraction, interference (interference pattern produced by two speakers), beats, resonance in a vibrating wire, including overtones/harmonics. Qualitative treatment of Doppler effect.
(iv) Electromagnetic (em) Waves. Electromagnetic spectrum. Qualitative treatment of em waves from different parts of the spectrum. Refraction of light - critical angle and optical fibres. Polarisation of light, microwaves and radio waves. Interference. Young's double slit experiment. The Michelson interferometer. Transmission diffraction grating - orders of diffraction, application in spectroscopy.
(v) Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM). Displacement, velocity and acceleration of a body undergoing S.H.M. Link between SHM. and circular motion. Force acting on a body undergoing SHM. Qualitative description of systems displaying SHM. Detailed description of pendulum and mass on a spring. Energy in SHM. General expression for SHM.
(vi) Damping and Forced Oscillations. Qualitative treatment of light, heavy and critical damping. Qualitative discussion of the concepts of natural frequency, resonance and the behaviour of vibratory systems driven by a periodic force.
(i) Simple model of nuclear atom. Atomic number and mass. The periodic table. The mole and Avogadro’s number. Solids, liquids and gases. Interatomic forces. Excitation and ionization. The electron volt.
(ii) Spectra and energy levels. E = hf. Relation of spectra to transitions between energy levels. Bohr atom quantitatively. Photoelectric effect. Crystalline lattices. Amorphous materials. X-ray diffraction. Polymers and plastics.
(iii) Gases, liquids and solids. Pressure. Archimedes principle. Hydrostatics. Heat and temperature scales. Thermometers. Latent heat. Thermal expansion. Perfect gas laws.
(iv) Thermal equilibrium and temperature. Thermal conduction. Radiation laws. Kinetic theory of gases.
(v) Introduction to radioactivity.
There will be laboratory sessions with eight experiments relating to both general skills and to the syllabus of the Physics lecture modules PH023, PH025 and PH026.
There will be lecture tutorials on:
Introduction to Special Relativity:
Inadequacy of Galilean Transformation; Postulates of Relativity; Lorentz transformation; Time dilation, length contraction and simultaneity; Special relativity paradoxes; Invariant intervals; Momentum and energy in special relativity; Equivalence of mass and energy.
Introduction to Astronomy:
Astronomical coordinate systems and conversions; Positions and motions of stars; Timekeeping systems; Introduction to the distance scale.
Introduction to Astrophysics and Cosmology:
Stellar luminosity and magnitudes; Magnitude systems; Colour of stars; Stellar spectral classification; Evolution of stars, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram; Cosmological principle; Redshift; Hubble constant; Space expansion.
Derivatives and Integrals: Derivatives of elementary functions, chain rule, product rule, Integrals of elementary functions, Evaluation by substitution, Integration by parts, Area under the graph of a function.
Vectors: Basic properties, linear dependence, scalar and vector products, triple products, vector identities.
Matrices: Matrix representation, systems of equations, products, inverses, determinants, solution of linear systems, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, transformations.
Elementary Functions: Binomial coefficients, expansions and series, Maclaurin series, Taylor series, Exponential functions, Hyperbolic functions, Inverse functions.
Functions of a single variable: Linear and quadratic functions, polynomials, rational functions, limits, infinite series, approximation of functions.
Complex numbers: Quadratic equations, Argand diagram, modulus, Argument, complex exponential, de Moivre's theorem, roots of polynomials.
Differential Equations: Solving differential equations, separable equations, linearity, homogeneity, first and second order equations, particular integrals. Boundary and initial values, auxiliary equations with complex roots, coefficients and terms, examples from physics.
Partial Derivatives: functions of two variables , partial derivatives, directional derivatives, functions many variables, higher derivatives, function of a function, implicit differentiation, differentiation of an integral w.r.t a parameter, Taylor expansions, stationary points.
Elementary multivariate Calculus: the chain rule, Multiple integrals, integrals over rectangles/irregular areas in the plane, change of order of integration.
Polar Coordinates: Cylindrical polar coordinates in two and three dimensions, integrals, spherical coordinates, solid angle.
Introduction to Vector Calculus : Gradients, Divergence, Gauss's theorem, Curl, Stokes' theorem.
Measurement and motion; Dimensional analysis, Motion in one dimension: velocity, acceleration, motion with constant acceleration, Motion in a plane with constant acceleration, projectile motion, uniform circular motion, and Newton's laws of motion.
Work, Energy and Momentum; Work, kinetic energy, power, potential energy, relation between force and potential energy, conservation of energy, application to gravitation and simple pendulum, momentum, conservation of linear momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions.
Rotational Motion; Rotational motion: angular velocity, angular acceleration, rotation with constant angular acceleration, rotational kinetic energy, moment of inertia, calculation of moment of inertia of a rod, disc or plate, torque, angular momentum, relation between torque and angular momentum, conservation of angular momentum.
Concept of field; 1/r2 fields; Gravitational Field; Kepler's Laws, Newton's law of gravitation, Gravitational potential, the gravitational field of a spherical shell by integration.
Oscillations and Mechanical Waves; Vibrations of an elastic spring, simple harmonic motion, energy in SHM, simple pendulum, physical pendulum, damped and driven oscillations, resonance, mechanical waves, periodic waves, their mathematical representation using wave vectors and wave functions, derivation of a wave equation, transverse and longitudinal waves, elastic waves on a string, principle of superposition, interference and formation of standing waves, normal modes and harmonics, sound waves with examples of interference to form beats, and the Doppler Effect. Phase velocity and group velocity.
Properties of Light and Optical Images; Wave nature of light. Reflection, refraction, Snell’s law, total internal reflection, refractive index and dispersion, polarisation. Huygens' principle, geometrical optics including reflection at plane and spherical surfaces, refraction at thin lenses, image formation, ray diagrams, calculation of linear and angular magnification, magnifying glass, telescopes and the microscope.
Electric Field; Discrete charge distributions, charge, conductors, insulators, Coulomb’s law, electric field, electric fields lines, action of electric field on charges, electric field due to a continuous charge distribution, electric potential, computing the electric field from the potential, calculation of potential for continuous charge distribution.
Magnetic Field; Force on a point charge in a magnetic field, motion of a point charge in a magnetic field, mass spectrometer and cyclotron.
Electric current and Direct current circuits, electric current, resistivity, resistance and Ohm’s Law, electromotive force, ideal voltage and current sources, energy and power in electric circuits, theory of metallic conduction, resistors in series and in parallel, Kirchhoff’s rules and their application to mesh analysis, electrical measuring instruments for potential difference and current, potential divider and Wheatstone’s bridge circuits, power transfer theorem, transient current analysis in RC, RL, LC and LRC circuits using differential equations.
Alternating Current Circuits; Phasor and complex number notation introduced for alternating current circuit analysis, reactance and complex impedance for Capacitance and Inductance, application to LRC series and parallel circuits. Series and parallel resonance, AC potential dividers and filter circuits, Thevenin's theorem, AC bridge circuits to measure inductance and capacitance, mutual inductance, the transformer and its simple applications.
Static Equilibrium, Elasticity and fluids; Elasticity: stress, strain, Hooke's law, Young's modulus, shear modulus, forces between atoms or molecules, intermolecular potential energy curve, equilibrium separation, Morse and 6-12 potentials, microscopic interpretation of elasticity, relation between Young's modulus and parameters of the interatomic potential energy curve, the nature of interatomic forces, the ionic bond, calculation of the energy to separate the ions in an ionic crystal, viscosity of fluids, Poiseuille's law, Stokes' law.
Thermodynamics; Thermal equilibrium, temperature scales, thermal expansion of solids, relation between thermal expansion and the interatomic potential energy curve, the transfer of thermal energy: conduction, convection, radiation, the ideal-gas law, Boltzmann's constant, Avogadro's number, the universal gas constant. The kinetic theory of gases, pressure of a gas, molecular interpretation of temperature, molecular speeds, mean free path, specific heat, molar specific heat. The equipartition theorem, degrees of freedom. Heat capacities of monatomic and diatomic gases and of solids. Internal energy of a thermodynamic system, the first law of thermodynamics, work and the PV diagram of a gas., work done in an isothermal expansion of an ideal gas. Molar heat capacities of gases at constant pressure and at constant volume and the relation between them. Adiabatic processes for an ideal gas. Heat engines and the Kelvin statement of the second law of thermodynamics, efficiency of a heat engine. Refrigerators and the Clausius statement of the second law of thermodynamics. Equivalence of the Kelvin and Clausius statements. The Carnot cycle, the Kelvin temperature scale.
Atoms; The nuclear atom, Rutherford scattering and the nucleus, Bohr model of the atom, energy level calculation and atom spectra, spectral series for H atom. Limitation of Bohr theory. Photoelectric Effect. Blackbody Radiation. Compton scattering. X-ray diffraction. De Broglie hypothesis. Electron diffraction. Introduction to wavefunctions, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.
How Physical Sciences are taught at Kent.
Library use. Bibliographic database searches.
Error analysis and data presentation. Types of errors; combining errors; Normal distribution; Poisson distribution; graphs – linear and logarithmic.
Probability and Statistics. Probability distributions, laws of probability, permutations and combinations, mean and variance.
Academic integrity and report writing skills.
A number of experiments in weekly sessions; some of the experiments require two consecutive weeks to complete.
Experiments introduce students to test equipment, data processing and interpretation and cover subjects found in the Physics degree program which include the following topics:
Mechanics, Astronomy/Astrophysics, statistical and probability analysis, numerical simulations, electric circuits and Thermodynamics.
Introduction to the concept of programming/scripting languages. Introduction to operating systems: including text editors, the directory system, basic utilities and the edit-compile-run cycle.
Introduction to the use of variables, constants, arrays and different data types; iteration and conditional branching.
Modular design: Use of programming subroutines and functions. Simple input/output, such as the use of format statements for reading and writing, File handling, including practical read/write of data files.
Producing graphical representation of data, including histograms. Interpolating data and fitting functions.
Programming to solve physical problems.
Introduction to typesetting formal scientific documents.
The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £9,250.
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.*
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.
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
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 AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.
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.
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.
The programme aims to:
You gain knowledge and understanding in physical laws and principles and their applications. Areas covered include:
You gain intellectual skills in how to:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You gain transferable skills in:
All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
Physics and Astronomy at Kent scored 89% overall in The Complete University Guide 2021.
Over 90% of Physics and Astronomy graduates who responded to the most recent national survey of graduate destinations were in work or further study within six months (DLHE, 2017).
Kent Physics graduates have an excellent employment record with recent graduates going on to work for employers:
Defence Science and Technology
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
You can also enhance your degree studies by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
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.
Fully accredited by the Institute of Physics.
The Start now button below takes you to Kent's short form, which you need to fill in and submit. We'll review your application and let you know if we can offer you a place. If you wish to accept our offer, you need to confirm this via UCAS Track. To do so, you'll need the following:
Discover Uni is designed to support prospective students in deciding whether, where and what to study. The site replaces Unistats from September 2019.
Discover Uni is jointly owned by the Office for Students, the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Scottish Funding Council.
Find out more about the Unistats dataset on the Higher Education Statistics Agency website.