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.
At Stage 3, the combination of specialist modules and an attachment to one of our research teams opens avenues for even deeper exploration: for instance, in space probe instrumentation, fibre optics, or the atomic-scale structure of a new engineering material, or neutron scattering work. Our international exchange programme also offers the opportunity for you to spend the third year of your degree studying in the USA at one of our partner universities.
This programme is fully accredited by Institute of Physics (IOP).
Think Kent video series
Dr Stephen Lowry, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Kent, and a member of the science team for the OSIRIS optical camera instrument on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, examines what the mission has revealed about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the formation of the solar system.
Physics at Kent was ranked 5th for graduate prospects in The Guardian University Guide 2017. Of Physics and Astronomy students who graduated from Kent in 2015, 88% of were in work or further study within six months (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey*).
*conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
Teaching Excellence Framework
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.
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 Stages 1-3, all modules listed below are compulsory.
In Stage 4, you carry out a research project in physics and take two further compulsory modules in cosmology and space astronomy. You also choose two optional modules from the following: PH711 - Rocketry and Human Spaceflight; PH722 - Particle and Quantum Physics; PH752 - Magnetism and Superconductivity.
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PH304 - Introduction to Astronomy and Special Relativity
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.Read more
PH311 - Mathematics I
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.Read more
PH312 - Mathematics II
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.Read more
PH321 - Mechanics
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.Read more
PH322 - Electricity and Light
Properties of Light and Optical Images; Wave nature of light. Reflection, refraction, Snells 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, Coulombs 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 Ohms Law, electromotive force, ideal voltage and current sources, energy and power in electric circuits, theory of metallic conduction, resistors in series and in parallel, Kirchhoffs rules and their application to mesh analysis, electrical measuring instruments for potential difference and current, potential divider and Wheatstones 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.Read more
PH323 - Thermodynamics and Matter
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.Read more
PH370 - Laboratory and Computing Skills for Physicists
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.Read more
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PH500 - Physics Laboratory
Most practicing physicists at some point will be required to perform experiments and take measurements. This module, through a series of experiments, seeks to allow students to become familiar with some more complex apparatus and give them the opportunity to learn the art of accurate recording and analysis of data. This data has to be put in the context of the theoretical background and an estimate of the accuracy made. Keeping of an accurate, intelligible laboratory notebook is most important. Each term 3 three week experiments are performed. The additional period is allocated to some further activities to develop experimental and communications skills.Read more
PH502 - Quantum Physics
Revision of classical descriptions of matter as particles, and electromagnetic radiation as waves.
Some key experiments in the history of quantum mechanics. The concept of wave-particle duality.
The wavefunction. Probability density. The Schrodinger equation. Stationary states.
Solutions of the Schrodinger equation for simple physical systems with constant potentials: Free particles. Particles in a box. Classically allowed and forbidden regions.
Reflection and transmission of particles incident onto a potential barrier. Probability flux. Tunnelling of particles.
The simple harmonic oscillator as a model for atomic vibrations.
Revision of classical descriptions of rotation. Rotation in three dimensions as a model for molecular rotation.
The Coulomb potential as a model for the hydrogen atom. The quantum numbers l, m and n. The wavefunctions of the hydrogen atom.
Physical observables represented by operators. Eigenfunctions and eigenvalues. Expectation values. Time independent perturbation theory.Read more
PH503 - Atomic and Nuclear Physics
Review of previous stages in the development of quantum theory with application to atomic physics; Atomic processes and the excitation of atoms; Electric dipole selection rules; atom in magnetic field; normal Zeeman effect; Stern Gerlach experiment; Spin hypothesis; Addition of orbital and spin angular moments; Lande factor; Anomalous Zeeman effect; Complex atoms; Periodic table; General Pauli principle and electron antisymmetry; Alkali atoms; ls and jj coupling; X-rays. Lamb-shift and hyperfinestructure (if time).
Properties of nuclei: Rutherford scattering. Size, mass and binding energy, stability, spin and parity.
Nuclear Forces: properties of the deuteron, magnetic dipole moment, spin-dependent forces.
Nuclear Models: Semi-empirical mass formula M(A, Z), stability, binding energy B(A, Z)/A. Shell model, magic numbers, spin-orbit interaction, shell closure effects.
Alpha and Beta decay: Energetics and stability, the positron, neutrino and anti-neutrino.
Nuclear Reactions: Q-value. Fission and fusion reactions, chain reactions and nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons, solar energy and the helium cycle.Read more
PH504 - Electromagnetism and Optics
Vectors: Review of Grad, Div & Curl; and other operations
Electrostatics: Coulomb's Law, electric field and potential, Gauss's Law in integral and differential form; the electric dipole, forces and torques.
Isotropic dielectrics: Polarization; Gauss's Law in dielectrics; electric displacement and susceptibility; capacitors; energy of systems of charges; energy density of an electrostatic field; stresses; boundary conditions on field vectors.
Poisson and Laplace equations.
Electrostatic images: Point charge and plane; point and sphere, line charges.
Magnetic field: Field of current element or moving charge; Div B; magnetic dipole moment, forces and torques; Ampere's circuital law.
Magnetization: Susceptibility and permeability; boundary conditions on field vectors; fields of simple circuits.
Electromagnetic induction: Lenzs law, inductance, magnetic energy and energy density;
Field equations: Maxwell's equations; the E.M. wave equation in free space.
Irradiance: E.M. waves in complex notation.
Polarisation: mathematical description of linear, circular and elliptical states; unpolarised and partially polarised light; production of polarised light; the Jones vector.
Interference: Classes of interferometers wavefront splitting, amplitude splitting. Basic concepts including coherence.
Diffraction: Introduction to scalar diffraction theory: diffraction at a single slit, diffraction grating.Read more
PH507 - The Multiwavelength Universe and Exoplanets
Aims: To provide a basic but rigorous grounding in observational, computational and theoretical aspects of astrophysics to build on the descriptive course in Part I, and to consider evidence for the existence of exoplanets in other Solar Systems.
Observing the Universe
Telescopes and detectors, and their use to make observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Basic Definitions: Magnitudes, solid angle, intensity, flux density, absolute magnitude, parsec, distance modulus, bolometric magnitude, spectroscopic parallax, Hertzsprung-Russel diagram, Stellar Photometry: Factors affecting signal from a star. Detectors: Examples, Responsive Quantum Efficiency, CCD cameras. Filters, UBV system, Colour Index as temperature diagnostic.
Extra Solar Planets
The evidence for extrasolar planets will be presented and reviewed. The implications for the development and evolution of Solar Systems will be discussed.
Basic stellar properties, stellar spectra. Formation and Evolution of stars. Stellar structure: description of stellar structure and evolution models, including star and planet formation. Stellar motions: Space velocity, proper motion, radial velocity, Local Standard of Rest, parallax. Degenerate matter: concept of degenerate pressure, properties of white dwarfs, Chandrasekhar limit, neutron stars, pulsars, Synchrotron radiation, Schwarzschild radius, black holes, stellar remnants in binary systems.Read more
PH513 - Medical Physics
The aim of the module in Medical Physics is to provide a primer into this important physics specialisation. The range of subjects covered is intended to give a balanced introduction to Medical Physics, with emphasis on the core principles of medical imaging, radiation therapy and radiation safety. A small number of lectures is also allocated to the growing field of optical techniques. The module involves several contributions from the Department of Medical Physics at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
Radiation protection (radiology, generic); Radiation hazards and dosimetry, radiation protection science and standards, doses and risks in radiology; Radiology; (Fundamental radiological science, general radiology, fluoroscopy and special procedures); Mammography (Imaging techniques and applications to health screening); Computed Tomography (Principles, system design and physical assessment); Diagnostic ultrasound (Pulse echo principles, ultrasound imaging, Doppler techniques); Tissue optics (Absorption, scattering of light in the tissue); The eye (The eye as an optical instrument); Confocal Microscopy (Principles and resolutions); Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and applications; Nuclear Medicine (Radionuclide production, radiochemistry, imaging techniques, radiation detectors); In vitro techniques (Radiation counting techniques and applications); Positron Emission Tomography (Principles, imaging and clinical applications); Radiation therapies (Fundamentals of beam therapy, brachytherapy, and 131I thyroid therapy); Radiation Protection (unsealed sources); Dose from in-vivo radionuclides, contamination, safety considerations.Read more
PH588 - Mathematical Techniques for Physical Sciences
Most physically interesting problems are governed by ordinary, or partial differential equations. It is examples of such equations that provide the motivation for the material covered in this module, and there is a strong emphasis on physical applications throughout. The aim of the module is to provide a firm grounding in mathematical methods: both for solving differential equations and, through the study of special functions and asymptotic analysis, to determine the properties of solutions. The following topics will be covered: Ordinary differential equations: method of Frobenius, general linear second order differential equation. Special functions: Bessel, Legendre, Hermite, Laguerre and Chebyshev functions, orthogonal functions, gamma function, applications of special functions. Partial differential equations; linear second order partial differential equations; Laplace equation, diffusion equation, wave equation, Schrödingers equation; Method of separation of variables. Fourier series: application to the solution of partial differential equations. Fourier Transforms: Basic properties and Parsevals theorem.Read more
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PH602 - Physics Problem Solving
Aims: After taking the classes students should be more fluent and adept at solving and discussing general problems in Physics (and its related disciplines of mathematics and engineering)
There is no formal curriculum for this course which uses and demands only physical and mathematical concepts with which the students at this level are already familiar. Instruction is given in:
Problems are presented and solutions discussed in topics spanning the entire undergraduate physics curriculum (Mechanics and statics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics, wave mechanics, relativity etc)
Problems are also discussed that primarily involve the application of formal logic and reasoning, simple probability, statistics, estimation and linear mathematics.Read more
PH604 - Relativity Optics and Maxwell's Equations
Special Relativity: Limits of Newtonian Mechanics, Inertial frames of reference, the Galilean and Lorentz transformations, time dilation and length contraction, invariant quantities under Lorentz transformation, energy momentum 4-vector
Maxwell's equations: operators of vector calculus, Gauss law of electrostatics and magnetostatics, Faraday's law and Ampere's law, physical meanings and integral and differential forms, dielectrics, the wave equation and solutions, Poynting vector, the Fresnel relations, transmission and reflection at dielectric boundaries.
Modern Optics: Resonant cavities and the laser, optical modes, Polarisation and Jones vector formulation.Read more
PH605 - Thermal and Statistical Physics
Review of zeroth, first, second laws. Quasistatic processes. Functions of state. Extensive and intensive properties. Exact and inexact differentials. Concept of entropy. Heat capacities. Thermodynamic potentials: internal energy, enthalpy, Helmholtz and Gibbs functions. The Maxwell relations. Concept of chemical potential. Applications to simple systems. Joule free expansion. Joule-Kelvin effect. Equilibrium conditions. Phase equilibria, Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The third law of thermodynamics and its consequences inaccessibility of the absolute zero.
2. Statistical Concepts and Statistical Basis of Thermodynamics
Basic statistical concepts. Microscopic and macroscopic descriptions of thermodynamic systems. Statistical basis of Thermodynamics. Boltzmann entropy formula. Temperature and pressure. Statistical properties of molecules in a gas. Basic concepts of probability and probability distributions. Counting the number of ways to place objects in boxes. Distinguishable and indistinguishable objects. Stirling approximation(s). Schottkly defect, Spin 1/2 systems. System of harmonic oscillators. Gibbsian Ensembles. Canonical Ensemble. Gibbs entropy formula. Boltzmann distribution. Partition function. Semi-classical approach. Partition function of a single particle. Partition function of N non-interacting particles. Helmholtz free energy. Pauli paramagnetism. Semi Classical Perfect Gas. Equation of state. Entropy of a monatomic gas, Sackur-Tetrode equation. Density of states. Maxwell velocity distribution. Equipartition of Energy. Heat capacities. Grand Canonical Ensemble.
3. Quantum Statistics
Classical and Quantum Counting of Microstates. Average occupation numbers: Fermi Dirac and Bose Einstein statistics. The Classical Limit. Black Body radiation and perfect photon gas. Plancks law. Einstein theory of solids. Debye theory of solids.Read more
PH606 - Solid State Physics
To provide an introduction to solid state physics. To provide foundations for the further study of materials and condensed matter, and details of solid state electronic and opto-electronic devices.
Dynamics of Vibrations
PH607 - Stars, Galaxies and the Universe
Aims: To provide, in combination with PH507, a balanced and rigorous course in Astrophysics for B.Sc. Physics with Astrophysics students, while forming a basis of the more extensive M.Phys. modules.
Physics of Stars
Inadequacy of Newton's Laws of Gravitation, principle of Equivalence, non-Euclidian geometry. Curved surfaces. Schwarzschild solution; Gravitational redshift, the bending of light and gravitational lenses; black holes. Brief survey of the universe. Robertson-Walker metric, field equations for cosmological and critical density. Friedmann models. The early universe. Dark Energy.Read more
PH618 - Image Processing
Introduction to Matlab
Enhancement and extraction of image content,
Fourier transforms and the frequency domain,
Image restoration, geometrical transformations,
Morphology and morphological transformations,
PH621 - Analytical Mechanics
Minimisation problems and the Euler-Lagrange equation;
Lagrange formulation of classical mechanics;
Link between symmetries and conservation laws (Noether's theorem);
Hamilton formulation of classical mechanics;
Semi-classical mechanics and the link to quantum mechanics;
Continuum mechanics and fluid dynamics;
Dynamical systems and chaosRead more
PS700 - Physical Science Research Investigation
Through two Colloquium Reports, students will learn to write high-impact articles with a critical analysis of research presented by others. They will exercise presentation skills and present critical reviews and referee's reports of the research of others.
The Research Project (60%)
Identification of a research area and the issues to tackle
Investigation of an unresolved issue comparing experiments and models, comparing approaches, assumptions and statistical methods.
Production of a dissertation
Proposal for future novel work as a short Case for Support for a PhD or research outside university environment
Project Management: Scheduling research programmes, Gantt, PERT charts.
Project Management: Costing of research, full economic cost, direct and indirect costs.
Poster presentation of the research
Research Review and Evaluation (40%)
Evaluation of Research: Colloquium attendance/viewing.
Science Communication: Preparation of two colloquium reports as a science magazine article with impact
Referee report on the colloquiums: strengths, weaknesses of both the speaker and the research quality.
Details of the work to be done will be announced by the convenor during the first two weeks of the academic year.Read more
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PH712 - Cosmology and Interstellar Medium
The major properties of the Interstellar Medium (ISM) are described. The course will discuss the characteristics of the gaseous and dust components of the ISM, including their distributions throughout the Galaxy, physical and chemical properties, and their influence the star formation process. The excitation of this interstellar material will be examined for the various physical processes which occur in the ISM, including radiative, collisional and shock excitation. The way in which the interstellar material can collapse under the effects of self-gravity to form stars, and their subsequent interaction with the remaining material will be examined. Finally the end stages of stellar evolution will be studied to understand how planetary nebulae and supernova remnants interact with the surrounding ISM.
Review of FRW metric; source counts; cosmological distance ladder; standard candles/rods.
High-z galaxies: fundamental plane; Tully-Fisher; low surface brightness galaxies; luminosity functions and high-z evolution; the Cosmic Star Formation History
Galaxy clusters: the Butcher-Oemler effect; the morphology-density relation; the SZ effect
AGN and black holes: Beaming and superluminal motion; Unified schemes; Black hole demographics; high-z galaxy and quasar absorption and emission lines;Read more
PH700 - Physics Research Project
All MPhys students undertake a laboratory, theoretical or computationally-based project related to their degree specialism. These projects may also be undertaken by Diploma students. A list of available project areas is made available during Stage 3, but may be augmented/revised at any time up to and including Week 1 of Stage 4. As far as possible, projects will be assigned on the basis of students' preferences but this is not always possible: however, the project abstracts are regarded as 'flexible' in the sense that significant modification is possible (subject only to mutual consent between student and supervisor). The projects involve a combination of some or all of: literature search and critique, laboratory work, theoretical work, computational physics and data reduction/analysis. The majority of the projects are directly related to the research conducted in the department and are undertaken within the various SPS research teams.Read more
PH709 - Space Astronomy and Solar System Science
Why use space telescopes; other platforms for non-ground-based astronomical observatories (sounding rockets, balloons, satellites); mission case study; what wavelengths benefit by being in space; measurements astronomers make in space using uv, x-ray and infra-red, and examples of some recent scientific missions.
Exploration of the Solar System
Mission types from flybys to sample returns: scientific aims and instrumentation: design requirements for a spacecraft-exploration mission; how to study planetary atmospheres and surfaces: properties of and how to explore minor bodies (e.g. asteroids and comets): current and future missions: mission case study; how space agencies liaise with the scientific community; how to perform calculations related to the orbital transfer of spacecraft.
Solar System Formation and Evolution
The composition of the Sun and planets will be placed in the context of the current understanding of the evolution of the Solar System. Topics include: Solar system formation and evolution; structure of the solar system; physical and orbital evolution of asteroids.
Extra Solar Planets
The evidence for extra Solar planets will be presented and reviewed. The implications for the development and evolution of Solar Systems will be discussed.
Life in Space
Introduction to the issue of what life is, where it may exist in the Solar System and how to look for it.Read more
PH711 - Rocketry and Human Spaceflight
Flight Operations: Control of spacecraft from the ground, including aspects of telecommunications theory.
Propulsion and attitude control: Physics of combustion in rockets, review of classical mechanics of rotation and its application to spacecraft attitude determination and control.
Impact Damage: The mechanisms by which space vehicles are damaged by high speed impact will be discussed along with protection strategies.
Human spaceflight: A review of human spaceflight programs (past and present). Life-support systems. An introduction to some major topics in space medicine; acceleration, pressurisation, radiation, etc.
International Space Station: Status of this project/mission will be covered.Read more
PH722 - Particle and Quantum Physics
Approximation Methods, perturbation theory, variational methods.
Classical/Quantum Mechanics, measurement and the correspondence principle.
Uncertainty Principle and Spin precession .
Key Experiments in Modern Quantum Mechanics (Aharonov-Bohm, neutron diffractyion in a gravitational field, EPR paradox).
Experimental methods in Particle Physics (Accelerators, targets and colliders, particle interactions with matter, detectors, the LHC).
Feynman Diagrams, particle exchange, leptons, hadrons and quarks.
Symmetries and Conservation Laws.
Hadron flavours, isospin, strangeness and the quark model.
Weak Interactions, W and Z bosons.Read more
PH752 - Magnetism and Superconductivity
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 2/3/4 assessments with maximum weight applied to the final stage.
Please note that there are degree thresholds at stages 2 and 3 that you will be required to pass in order to continue onto the next stages.
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.
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:
- 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
- plasmas and fluids.
You also gain an understanding of the theory and practice of astrophysics, and of those aspects upon which it depends – a knowledge of key physics, the use of electronic data processing and analysis, and modern day mathematical and computational tools.
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.
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.
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.
Of Physics and Astronomy students who graduated from Kent in 2015, 88% of were in work or further study within six months (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey).
Recent graduates have gone into research and development, technical management, the City and financial institutions, computing, software design, the media and teaching. Some have also gone on to postgraduate study.
Fully accredited by the Institute of Physics
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.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
|Qualification||Typical offer/minimum requirement|
ABB including Mathematics and Physics at BB (Use of Mathematics not accepted), including the practical endorsement of any science qualifications taken
|Access to HE Diploma||
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.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)||
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 180 credits or more, on a case by case basis. Please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances.
34 points or 16 at HL including Physics and Mathematics 5 at HL or 6 at SL (not Mathematics Studies)
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 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.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2019/20 tuition fees have not yet been set. As a guide only, the 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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.
General additional costs
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.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
For 2018/19 entry, 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.