Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics - MPhys

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Our four-year Integrated Master's gives you the opportunity to work on a research project, in an area of your choosing, and gain a valuable postgraduate qualification which can help to give you the edge in the job market. Studying at Kent, you get involved with real space missions from ESA and NASA, and can work on Hubble Telescope data and images from giant telescopes.

Overview

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

In this MPhys programme, core knowledge and skills are enhanced with the further in-depth training required for a science-based career, including the practical aspects of research.

Our degree programme

Astronomy, space science and astrophysics allow us to see the Universe and our place in it. Through studying these subjects, mankind has continually enlarged its horizons and explored the cosmos. The subjects continually evolve and change every year based on discoveries by researchers around the world.

In your first year, you get to grips with the broad knowledge base on which physical science is built, studying astronomy and special relativity, computing skills, mathematics, mechanics, electricity, thermodynamics, laboratory and computational skills.

Your second and third years cover a broad range of subjects such as the multiwavelength universe and exoplanets, spacecraft design and operations, data analysis in astronomy and planetary science, atomic and nuclear physics, quantum physics, mathematical techniques, electromagnetism and optics, and analytical mechanics. You also learn a number of skills related to the investigation and planning of research.

In your final year, the combination of specialist modules and laboratory work on individual projects opens avenues for even deeper exploration: for example, advanced quantum mechanics, cosmology and Interstellar medium, rocketry and human spaceflight, and space astronomy and solar system science.

Year abroad

This programme is also offered with a year abroad, where you spend the third year of your degree studying at one of our partner universities. For details, see Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics with a Year Abroad.

Year in industry

You can take this degree as a four-year programme and spend a year working on a placement. For more details, see Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics with a Year in Industry.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to study for a three-year BSc (Hons) programme, see Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics.

Study resources

The 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.

You have access to first-class research facilities in new laboratories. These are well equipped for synthetic and analytical techniques ranging from soft organic polymers to nanoparticles to highly sensitive organometallic species.

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

Extra activities

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

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

You can also take part in:

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

Professional networks

The School of Physical Sciences also has links with:

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

Entry requirements

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

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

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

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. 

  • medal-empty

    A level

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

  • medal-empty 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.

  • medal-empty BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    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 at HL including HL Maths/Maths Method or HL Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches at 5 or SL Maths/Maths Methods at 6 (not Maths Studies/SL Maths: Applications & Interpretations).

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    N/A

  • medal-empty T level

    The University will consider applicants holding T Level qualifications in subjects which are closely aligned to the programme applied for. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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.

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

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

One-on-one meetings and group tutorials focused on academic progression and the development of key skills to support the core curriculum and future study or employment. Students meet with their Academic Advisor individually or in groups at intervals during the academic year. Individual meetings review academic progress, support career planning etc. Themed tutorials develop transferable skills; The tutorials are informal involving student activity and discussion. Year group events deliver general information e.g. on University resources, 4-year programmes, module selection etc.

Find out more about PSCI3020

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

This module aims to provide a basic understanding of the major subsystems of a spacecraft system and the frameworks for understanding spacecraft trajectory and orbits, including interplanetary orbits, launch phase and altitude control. Students will also gain an awareness of ideas on how space is a business/commercial opportunity and some of the management tools required in business.

Find out more about PHYS5080

This module focuses on the use of data processing and analysis techniques as applied to astronomical data from telescopes. Students will learn how telescopes and CCD cameras work, to process astronomical images and spectra and apply a range of data analysis techniques using multiple software packages. Students will also engage in the scientific interpretation of images and spectra of astronomical objects.

Use of Virtual Observatories for accessing astronomical databases and applying analysis tools to the data files retrieved (with particular emphasis on the Aladdin system); astronomical image formats.

Astrometry: Measuring coordinates of celestial objects from images.

Photometry: Determining magnitudes of variable stars and/or solar system bodies.

Spectroscopy: Determining spectral properties of variable stars and/or solar system bodies.

Image Analysis and Enhancement with AIP: Quantifying digital imagery in more detail than Aladdin, and applying a range of techniques (primarily through the use of image operators and convolution kernels).

Find out more about PHYS5120

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

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

One-on-one meetings and group tutorials focused on academic progression and the development of key skills to support the core curriculum and future study or employment. Students meet with their Academic Advisor individually or in groups at intervals during the academic year. Individual meetings review academic progress, support career planning etc. Themed tutorials develop transferable skills; The tutorials are informal involving student activity and discussion. Year group events deliver general information e.g. on University resources, 4-year programmes, module selection etc.

Find out more about PSCI5040

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

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

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

Aims:

To understand the nature of the solar activities, emissions and its properties, and its effects on the Earth's atmosphere and the near-Earth space within which spacecraft operate.

To have a familiarity with the modes of operation of remote sensing and communications satellites, understanding their function and how their instruments work.

To be familiar with the current space missions to Mars and their impact on our understanding of that planet.

Solar Terrestrial physics

The sun: Overall structure, magnetic field and solar activities.

Interactions with Earth: plasma physics, solar wind, Earth's magnetic field.

Ionospheric physics. Terrestrial physics: Earth's energy balance, Atmosphere. Environmental effects.

Remote Sensing

Modes of operation of remote sensing satellite instruments: radio, microwave, visual and infrared instruments. Basic uses of the instruments. Digital image processing, structure of digital images, image-processing overview, information extraction, environmental applications: UV radiation and Ozone concentration, climate and weather.

Martian Science

An overview of recent and future Mars space missions and their scientific aims. Discussions of the new data concerning Mars and the changing picture of Mars that is currently emerging.

Find out more about PHYS6080

This module provides a foundation in numerical approximations to analytical methods – these techniques are essential for solving problems by computer. An indicative list of methods is: Linear equations, zeros and roots, least squares & linear regression, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, errors and finite differences, linear programming, interpolation and plotting functions, numerical integration, numerical differentiation, solutions to ordinary differential equations using numerical methods.

Find out more about PHYS6110

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

One-on-one meetings and group tutorials focused on academic progression and the development of key skills to support the core curriculum and future study or employment. Students meet with their Academic Advisor individually or in groups at intervals during the academic year. Individual meetings review academic progress, support career planning etc. Themed tutorials develop transferable skills; The tutorials are informal involving student activity and discussion. Year group events deliver general information e.g. on University resources, 4-year programmes, module selection etc.

Find out more about PSCI6050

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

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

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.

Find out more about PHYS7110

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

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

One-on-one meetings and group tutorials focused on academic progression and the development of key skills to support the core curriculum and future study or employment. Students meet with their Academic Advisor individually or in groups at intervals during the academic year. Individual meetings review academic progress, support career planning etc. Themed tutorials develop transferable skills; The tutorials are informal involving student activity and discussion. Year group events deliver general information e.g. on University resources, 4-year programmes, module selection etc.

Find out more about PSCI7030

Fees

The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for UK undergraduate courses have not yet been set by the UK Government. As a guide only the 2021/2022 fees for this course were £9,250.

  • Home full-time TBC
  • 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 lecture, laboratory sessions, and project and console classes. You have approximately nine lectures a week, plus one day of practical work. In addition, you have reading and coursework and practical reports to prepare. In the MPhys final year, you work with a member of staff on an experimental or computing project.

Assessment is by written examination at the end of each year, plus continuous assessment of written coursework. Practical work is examined by continuous assessment.

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:

  • Instil and/or enhance a sense of enthusiasm for physics by understanding the role of the discipline at the core of our intellectual knowledge of all aspects of nature, and as the foundation of many of the pure and applied sciences.
  • Instil an appreciation of the subject's application in different contexts, in an intellectually stimulating research-led environment.
  • Motivate and support students to realise their academic potential.
  • Provide 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; in the case of the MPhys to base this in part on an extended research project.
  • Develop the ability to apply skills, knowledge and understanding in physics to the solution of theoretical and practical problems in the subject.
  • Provide knowledge and a skills base from which students can proceed to further studies in specialised areas of physics or multidisciplinary areas involving physical principles; the MPhys is particularly geared for those wishing to undertake physics research.
  • Generate an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts.
  • Instil an appreciation of the subject through its application in current research.
  • Generate an appreciation of the importance of astronomy, astrophysics and space science and its role in understanding how the universe in which we live came about and how it continues to exist and develop.
  • Provide a grounding in space systems and technology, and the overlap between the science and commercial drivers in the aerospace industry.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • Physical laws and principles, and their application to diverse areas of physics, including: electromagnetism, classical and quantum mechanics, statistical physics and thermodynamics, wave phenomena and the properties of matter as fundamental aspects, with additional material from nuclear and particle physics, condensed matter physics, materials, plasmas and fluids.
  • Aspects of theory and practice, and a knowledge of key physics, the use of electronic data processing and analysis, and modern day mathematical and computational tools.
  • The fundamental laws and principles of physics and of astronomy, astrophysics and space science and their application.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • 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 and analyse critically the results of an experiment or investigation and draw valid conclusions, evaluate the level of uncertainty in these results and compare them with expected outcomes, theoretical predictions or with published data to evaluate the significance of the results in this context.
  • Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour.
  • Comment critically on how spacecraft are designed, their principles of operation, and their use to access and explore space, and how telescopes are designed, their principles of operation, and their use in astronomy and astrophysics research.
  • Solve advanced problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools, translate problems into mathematical statements and apply knowledge to obtain order of magnitude or more precise solutions.
  • Interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena.
  • Plan an experiment or investigation under supervision and understand the significance of error analysis.
  • Have a working knowledge of a variety of experimental, mathematical and/or computational techniques applicable to current research within physics.
  • Enhanced knowledge of the science drivers that underpin government-funded research and the commercial activity that provides hardware or software solutions to challenging scientific problems in the fields of astronomy, space science and astrophysics.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following:

  • Competent use of appropriate C&IT packages/systems for the analysis of data and information retrieval.
  • The ability to present and interpret information graphically.
  • Communicating scientific information and producing clear and accurate scientific reports.
  • Familiarity with laboratory apparatus and techniques.
  • The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data.
  • The ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources.
  • Fluency in C&IT at the level and range 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.
  • The ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusion of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively.
  • Experimental methodology showing the competent use of specialised equipment, the ability to identify appropriate pieces of equipment and to master new techniques and equipment.
  • The ability to make use of research articles and other primary sources.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • Problem-solving, an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and identify key issues, the confidence to try different approaches to make progress on challenging problems, and numeracy.
  • Investigative skills in the context of independent investigation including the use of textbooks and other literature, databases, and interaction with colleagues to extract important information.
  • Communication: 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 associated with the need to pay attention to detail, the ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and use technical language correctly.
  • The ability to work independently, to use initiative, meet deadlines and to 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

Graduate destinations

Kent Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics graduates have an excellent employment record with recent graduates going on to work for employers:

  • Airbus
  • The Met Office
  • Defence Engineering and Science Group (MoD)
  • BAE

Career-enhancing skills

You graduate with an excellent grounding in scientific knowledge and extensive laboratory experience. In addition, you also develop the key transferable skills sought by employers, such as:

  • excellent communication skills
  • work independently or as part of a team
  • the ability to solve problems and think analytically
  • time management.

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

Help finding a job

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

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

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

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