Physics with Astrophysics - MPhys

If you are fascinated by the ‘how and why’ of the material world, as well as underlying physical concepts of the stars and galaxies, which make up the Universe, a degree in Physics with Astrophysics is for you. Studying at Kent you are taught and inspired by academics making the discoveries that shape our world and play a part in this research yourself.

Our focus is on helping you follow your passion as well as giving you the best possible start to your future. You develop a range of scientific and transferable skills and our four-year Integrated Master's gives you the opportunity to work on a research project and gain a valuable postgraduate qualification which can help give you the edge in the job market.

Overview

We have a strong focus on your future career and how to get you there, and to ensure you are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's job market, our curriculum changes and adapts. You also benefit from our expert careers advice to give you the best possible start when deciding on your future career.

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

Our degree programme

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 third 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.

The final year of the MPhys programme brings your core knowledge and skills up to an advanced level. This stage concentrates on the in-depth training required for a science-based career, including the practical aspects of the research processes and a major research project in the School's Astrophysics and Planetary Science research group.

Your degree, your way

Our degrees are not only designed to give the best possible start to your career, they are also flexible so that you do the best degree for you. Up until your second year you are able to move between our programmes, including the opportunity to complete a professional placement to put into practice the skills you learnt and make valuable industry contacts or our three-year BSc. You could also opt to include a year abroad with your integrated Master's courses - giving you the chance to further broaden your horizons.

If you do not have the grades or scientific background for direct entry, you can take the Physics Foundation year. Upon successful completion of this year, you are well placed to move onto any of our Physics, Physics with Astrophysics, or Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics degrees.

Fantastic facilities

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.

Our Beacon Observatory provides a fully automised system with both optical telescope and radio telescope capability. It includes a 17" astrograph from Plane Wave Instruments with a 4k x 4k CCD and a BVRIHa filter set, as well as a 90-frames-per-second camera.

An excellent student experience

As well as a fascinating course with great opportunities to further your career potential, we work hard to give you the best possible wider student experience.

You will be part of an international scientific community of physics and astronomy, chemistry and forensic science, bioscience and medical and sport science students, as well as being able to join a range of student-led societies and groups.

As well as inspiring you to realise your potential, we are here to support this with excellent in-house student support to assist with pastoral issues and careers experts with specialist knowledge as well as Academic advisors and peer mentors to help with your studies.

Professional networks

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 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.

Our department also has links with:

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

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Flexible tariff

Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee

We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.

*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.

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.

  • medal-empty

    A level

    BBB including Mathematics or Physics at BB (Use of Mathematics not accepted)

  • 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).

  • 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-astro@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 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

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

This module provides an introduction to astronomy, beginning with our own solar system and extending to objects at the limits of the universe. Straightforward mathematics is used to develop a geometrical optics model for imaging with lenses and mirrors, and this is then used to explore the principles of astronomical telescopes.

Find out more about PHYS3040

This module builds on prior knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry. It will cover key areas of mathematics which are widely used throughout undergraduate university physics. In the first part it will look at functions, series, derivatives and integrals. In the second part it will look at vectors, matrices and complex numbers.

Find out more about PHYS3110

This module builds on the Mathematics I module to develop key mathematical techniques involving multiple independent variables. These include the topics of differential equations, multivariate calculus, non-Cartesian coordinates, and vector calculus that are needed for Physics modules in Stages 2 and 3.

Find out more about PHYS3120

In this module the mathematics of vectors and calculus are used to describe motion, the effects of forces in accordance with Newton's laws, and the relation to momentum and energy. This description is extended to rotational motion, and the force of gravity. In addition, the modern topic of special relativity is introduced.

Find out more about PHYS3210

This module examines key physical phenomena of waves and fields which extend over time and space. The first part presents a mathematical description of oscillations and develops this to a description of wave phenomena. The second part is an introduction to electromagnetism which includes electric and magnetic fields before providing an introduction to the topic of electrical circuits.

Find out more about PHYS3220

This module develops the principles of mechanics to describe mechanical properties of liquids and solids. It also introduces the principles of thermodynamics and uses them to describe properties of gases. The module also introduces the modern description of atoms and molecules based on quantum mechanics.

Find out more about PHYS3230

This module guides students through a series of experiments giving them experience in using laboratory apparatus and equipment. Students will also learn how to accurately record and analyse data in laboratory notebooks and write scientific laboratory reports. The experiments cover subjects found in the Physics degree program and are run parallel with Computing Skills workshops in which students are introduced to the concept of using programming/scripting languages to analyse and report data from their experiments.

Find out more about PHYS3700

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

This module provides an introduction to quantum mechanics, developing knowledge of wave-functions, the Schrodinger equation, solutions and quantum numbers for important physical properties. Topics include: 2-state systems. Bras and kets. Eigenstates and Eigenvalues; Superposition Principle; Probability Amplitudes; Change of Basis; Operators. The Schrodinger equation. Stationary states. Completeness. Expectation values. Collapse of the wave function. Probability density. 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. Atomic vibrations.

Find out more about PHYS5020

This module will build on the general principles of quantum mechanics introduced earlier in the degree and applied them to the description of atoms, starting by the description of the hydrogen atom and covering other topics such as the effect of magnetic fields on an atom or X-ray spectra.

Find out more about PHYS5030

This module looks to introduce a range of important laws and principles relating to the physics of electromagnetism and optics. Students will also learn mathematical techniques to enable the modelling of physical behaviour and apply important theory to a range of electromagnetism and optics scenarios.

Find out more about PHYS5040

Aims: To provide a basic but rigorous grounding in observational, computational and theoretical aspects of astrophysics to build on the descriptive course in Stage 1, and to consider evidence for the existence of exoplanets in other Solar Systems.

Telescopes and detectors:

Radio telescopes; detection of radio waves, heterodyne receivers, bolometers; Optical/NIR Telescopes and detectors; basic band gap theory; CCD cameras; bias, dark and flatfield calibration frames and data reduction; Stellar Photometry: Factors affecting signal from a stars; atmospheric absorption and scattering; Filters; UBV system; Colour Index as temperature diagnostic.

Basic stellar properties:

Mass measurements: Kepler's laws; solar system; binary stars; Visual binaries; Eclipsing binaries, Spectroscopic binaries; Introduction to the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram; spectroscopic parallax Introduction to star formation: Molecular clouds; Jeans criterion for collapse; Protostars; T-Tauri stars; Contraction onto the Main Sequence; Heyney and Hayashi Tracks; Stellar spectral classification: Basic stellar properties; back body radiation; stellar spectra; radiative transfer in stellar atmospheres

Stellar Structure:

equation of hydrostatic support; Virial theorem; central pressure; mean temperature; astrophysical time scales; equations of energy generation and transportation; convective vs radiative energy transport;

Extra Solar Planets

Detection Methods; Direct Detection; Radial velocity technique; Transit method; Microlensing and direct imaging; the population of exoplanet systems, Metallicity, Eccentricity, Core Accretion and Gravitational Instability

Galaxies:

Introduction to Galaxies; Hubble classification; the Milky Way; Spirals; Dark matter; Ellipticals; Irregulars; luminosity functions; Galaxy Clusters, distributions and physical processes; The Hubble Constant, Evolution, Mergers, Star Formation History; Quasars, Seyferts and Radio Galaxies

Find out more about PHYS5070

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. Three 3 week experiments are performed. The remaining period is allocated to some additional activities to develop communication skills including communication to a non-specialist audience.

Find out more about PHYS5200

This module introduces and develops a knowledge of numerical approximations to solve problems in physics, building on the programming skills gained in earlier stages. In addition, it complements the analytical methods students are trained to use and extends the range of tools that they can use in later stages of the degree. This module covers for example how to solve linear equations, how to find eigenvalues and numerical integration and differentiation.

Find out more about PHYS5310

The module will 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.

Find out more about PHYS5880

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

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.

Problems are presented and solutions discussed in topics spanning several topics in the undergraduate physics curriculum (Mechanics and statics, thermodynamics, and optics, etc).

Problems are also discussed that primarily involve the application of formal logic and reasoning, simple probability, statistics, estimation and linear mathematics.

Find out more about PHYS6020

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.

Find out more about PHYS6040

Thermodynamics

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.

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.

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. Planck's law. Einstein theory of solids. Debye theory of solids.

Find out more about PHYS6050

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.

Structure:

Interaction potential for atoms and ions. Definitions, crystal types. Miller indices. Reciprocal lattice. Diffraction methods.

Dynamics of Vibrations.

Lattice dynamics, phonon dispersion curves, experimental techniques.

Electrons in k-space: metals.

Free electron theory of metals. Density of states. Fermi-Dirac distribution. Band theory of solids - Bloch's theorem. Distinction between metals and insulators. Electrical conductivity according to classical and quantum theory. Hall effect.

Semiconductors.

Band structure of ideal semiconductor. Density of states and electronic/hole densities in conduction/valence band. Intrinsic carrier density. Doped semiconductors.

Magnetism.

Definitions of dia, para, ferromagnetism. Magnetic moments. General treatment of paramagnetism, Curie's law. Introduction to ferromagnetism.

Find out more about PHYS6060

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

equations of state for an ideal multiple chemical component star; degenerated stars, Nuclear reactions: PPI, PPII, PPIII chains; CNO cycle, Triple-alpha process; elemental abundances; energy transportation inside a star; derivation of the approximate opacity and energy generation models as function of density, temperature and chemical components; Solar neutrino problem; polytropic models applied to the equations of stars; Lane-Emden equation; Chandrasekhar mass; the Eddington Luminosity and the upper limit of mass; detailed stellar models; Post main sequence evolution of solar mass stars; Red Giants; White Dwarfs; Neutron Stars; Degenerate matter; properties of white dwarfs; Chandrasekhar limit; neutron stars; pulsars; Supernovae

General Relativity and Cosmology

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; Einstein Rings, black holes, gravitational waves; Brief survey of the universe; Olbers paradox, Cosmology, principles, FRW Metric, Laws of Motion & Distances, Friedmann equation, Scale Factor, Fluid equation, The Hubble Parameter, Critical Density parameter, Cosmological Constant parameter, Radiation-Matter-Dark Energy phases; The CMB, Temperature Horizons. Monopoles. Flatness problem. Hubble sphere, Inflation, Anisotropies, Polarisation Baryon Acoustic Oscillations, Secondary anisotropies; Baryosynthesis, Nucleosynthesis, Dark Matter observations, Lensing, Bullet Cluster, Dark Matter candidates, Cosmic Distance Ladder, Redshifts Galaxy surveys; Acceleration equation, Deceleration equation, Supernova as standard candles, Dark Energy, Einstein Field equations, Coincidence problem, The Cosmic Dark Ages & AGN Reionisation, High-z galaxies

Find out more about PHYS6070

This module is an introduction to the developments in classical mechanics since the time of Newton. In it, students will learn a variety of methods to formulate complex problems in classical systems and classify different types of dynamics that may occur.

Find out more about PHYS6210

This module will introduce students to basic concepts in nuclear and particle physics, and will provide an understanding of how the principles of quantum mechanics are used to describe matter at sub-atomic length scales. The following concepts will be covered:

* 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.

* Experimental methods in Nuclear and Particle Physics (Accelerators, detectors, analysis methods, case studies will be given).

* Discovery of elementary particles and the standard model of particles

* Leptons, quarks and vector bosons

* The concept of four different forces and fields in classical and quantum physics; mediation of forces via virtual particles, Feynman Diagrams

* Relativistic Kinematics

* Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Prediction of Antiparticles

* Symmetries and Conservation Laws

* Hadron flavours, isospin, strangeness and the quark model

* Weak Interactions, W and Z bosons

Find out more about PHYS6660

Students will develop a number of skills related to the investigation and planning of research such as analytical skills, critical thinking and ability to understand and communicate scientific information in graphically. Students will learn how to search and retrieve information from a variety of locations (colloquia, websites, journals, proceedings etc). They will learn how to compile professionally-produced scientific documents such as colloquia reports, posters and applications for funding of future research activities/research job applications. The Group research investigation strengthens these skills, adding experience of working in a team.

Find out more about PSCI7000

Stage 4

You take all compulsory modules and then choose one from a list of optional modules.

Compulsory modules currently include

Aims:

To provide an experience of open-ended research work.

To begin to prepare students for postgraduate work towards degrees by research or for careers in R&D in industrial or government/national laboratories.

To deepen knowledge in a specialised field and be able to communicate that knowledge orally and in writing.

Syllabus

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.

Find out more about PHYS7000

Space Astronomy:

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.

Find out more about PHYS7090

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.

Extragalactic astrophysics:

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.

Find out more about PHYS7120

Optional modules may include

This module will give students an overarching introduction to quantum information processing (QIP). At the end of the course the students will have a basic understanding of quantum computation, quantum communication, and quantum cryptography; as well as the implications to other fields such as computation, physics, and cybersecurity.

We will take a multi-disciplinary approach that will encourage and require students to engage in topics outside of their core discipline. The module will cover the most essential mathematical background required to understand QIP. This includes: linear algebra, basic elements of quantum theory (quantum states, evolution of closed quantum systems, Born's rule), and basic theory of computing. The module will introduce students to the following theoretical topics: quantum algorithms, quantum cryptography, quantum communication & information. The module will also address experimental quantum computation & cryptography.

Find out more about COMP8220

Introduction. Magnetism, magnetometry and measuring techniques, Localised magnetic moments, spin and orbital moments, magnetic moments in solids. Paramagnetism. Exchange interactions, direct, indirect and superexchange, Magnetic structures, ferro, ferri, antiferromagnetism. Neutron and X-ray scattering. Spin waves, magnons. Magnetic phase transitions. Superconductivity: Introduction to properties of superconductors, Thermodynamics and electrodynamics of superconductors, Type I and Type II superconductors, the flux lattice Superconducting phase transitions. Microscopic superconductivity, correlations lengths, isotope effect, Cooper pairs, Froehlich Interaction, BCS theory. High Tc superconductors, superfluids, liquid helium.

Find out more about PHYS7520

Quantum mechanics is the theoretical basis of much of modern physics. Building on the introductory quantum theory studied in earlier stages, this module will review some key foundational ideas before developing more advanced topics of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory.

Find out more about PHYS7770

Fees

The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £15900
  • International full-time £21200

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

General additional costs

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

Funding

University funding

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

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

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. 

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.

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

Search scholarships

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 a weighting of 20/30/50.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Independent rankings

Physics and Astronomy at Kent scored 88% overall in The Complete University Guide 2022.

Of final-year Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics students who completed the National Student Survey 2021, 91% were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

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 this course

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 choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply now to Kent

Contact us

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

Email: study-astro@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

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

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School website

Physics and Astronomy

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