Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics - MPhys

with a Year Abroad

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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 or work with our own new Beacon Observatory. While spending a year at one of our partner universities, you study equivalent courses to those you would take at Kent, and return to complete the fourth year of our Integrated Masters. This means you graduate with a valuable postgraduate qualification which can help to give you the edge in the job market.

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 year covers 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 and electromagnetism and optics.

Our international exchange programme allows you to spend the third year of your degree studying abroad at one of our partner universities. Current destinations include:

  • the US (Indiana University in Bloomington and several campuses of the University of California)
  • Canada (Trent and Calgary universities)
  • Hong Kong (the City University).

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.

MPhys programme

This programme is also offered without a year abroad. For details, see Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics - MPhys.

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

You are more than your grades

At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.

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 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).

  • International Foundation Programme

    N/A

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

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.

Find out more about PHYS5020

Atomic 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).

Nuclear Physics

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.

Find out more about PHYS5030

SYLLABUS

Electromagnetism

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: Lenz’s law, inductance, magnetic energy and energy density;

Optics

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.

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 Part I, and to consider evidence for the existence of exoplanets in other Solar Systems.

SYLLABUS:

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.

Astrophysics

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.

Find out more about PHYS5070

Aims:

(1) To provide a basic understanding of the major subsystems of a spacecraft system.

(2) To provide basic frameworks for understanding of spacecraft trajectory and orbits, including interplanetary orbits, launch phase and attitude control.

(3) To provide an awareness of the basic ideas of how space is a business/commercial opportunity and some of the management tools required in business.

SYLLABUS:

Low Earth Orbit Environment

The vacuum, radiation etc environment that a spacecraft encounters in Low Earth Orbit is introduced and its effect on spacecraft materials discussed.

Spacecraft systems

A basic introduction to spacecraft and their environment. Covers Spacecraft structures and materials, thermal control, power systems, attitude control systems, the rocket equation and propulsion.

Project management

This discusses: the evolving framework in which world-wide public and private sector space activities are conceived, funded and implemented. The basics of business planning and management.

Orbital mechanics for spacecraft

Students will find out how basic Celestial Mechanics relates to the real world of satellite/spacecraft missions. Following an overview of the effects of the Earth’s environment on a satellite, the basic equations-of-motion are outlined in order to pursue an understanding of the causes and effects of orbit perturbations. A description is given of different types of orbit and methods are outlined for the determination and prediction of satellite and planetary orbits. Launch phase is also considered, and the module concludes with an assessment of Mission Analysis problems such as choice of orbit, use of ground stations, satellite station-keeping and orbit lifetimes.

Find out more about PHYS5080

SYLLABUS:

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

  • SYLLABUS:

    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.

    Find out more about PHYS5200

    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, Schrödinger’s equation; Method of separation of variables. Fourier series: application to the solution of partial differential equations. Fourier Transforms: Basic properties and Parseval’s theorem.

    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

    Year abroad

    You spend a year between Stages 2 and 4 at one of our partner universities in the USA, Canada or Hong Kong.  For a full list, please see Go Abroad. Places are subject to availability.

    You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad.  If the requirement is not met, you are transferred to the equivalent four-year MPhys programme.

    Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

    Compulsory modules currently include

    PH790 needs to cover a majority of learning outcomes in Stage 3 of the parent MPhys programme. The modules in the university abroad should normally cover similar topics at a similar level. Note that a one-to-one correspondence is not feasible and would negate the purpose of the Year Abroad, which is to provide the student with the experience of the educational system abroad. In addition, the student has the opportunity to study some modules which are not available at University of Kent.

    With regards to topics, the academic liaison (typically DoUGS Physics) will check and approve the students choice of modules at the time they are at the university abroad.

    Find out more about PHYS7900

    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

  • SYLLABUS:

    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

    SYLLABUS:

    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

    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.

    Fees for Year in Industry

    The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for UK undergraduate courses have not yet been set by the UK Government. As a guide only full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates for 2021/22 entry are £1,385.

    Fees for Year Abroad

    The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for UK undergraduate courses have not yet been set by the UK Government. As a guide only full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates for 2021/22 entry are £1,385.

    Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

    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.

    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. The year abroad counts towards your final degree assessment.

    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 to 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 to 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.
    • Communicate scientific information and produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
    • Familiarity with laboratory apparatus and techniques.
    • 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

    Contact us

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    International student enquiries

    Enquire online

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

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    Discover Uni information

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    Discover Uni is designed to support prospective students in deciding whether, where and what to study. The site replaces Unistats from September 2019.

    Discover Uni is jointly owned by the Office for Students, the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Scottish Funding Council.

    It includes:

    • Information and guidance about higher education
    • Information about courses
    • Information about providers

    Find out more about the Unistats dataset on the Higher Education Statistics Agency website.