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Undergraduate Courses 2017

Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics with a Year Abroad - MPhys



Kent runs a fantastic programme for students who are inspired by the wonders and vastness of the universe. In this course, there are opportunities to investigate the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe. You get involved with real space missions from ESA and NASA, and can work on Hubble Telescope data and images from giant telescopes.

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.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, practised by most of the world's ancient civilisations, and one of the most modern, relying for many recent discoveries on high technology and the space programme.

It is an observational science that provides our view of the vast ranges of scales of space, time and physical conditions in the Universe. Astrophysics emphasises the underlying physical concepts of the stars and galaxies, which make up the universe, providing an understanding of the physical nature of bodies and processes in space and the instruments and techniques used in modern astronomical research.

Space is often referred to as the final frontier of exploration by mankind. Space exploration and observations depend to a large extent on satellites and other forms of space probes. Designers of space equipment need a good understanding of physics and astrophysics, together with specialised engineering skills.

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 international exchange programme allows you to spend the third year of your degree studying abroad at one of our partner universities, which include Indiana University in Bloomington, several campuses of the University of California, Trent and Calgary Universities in Canada and the City University Hong Kong. Our active student society organises trips and events such as virtual observing in Hawaii by remotely controlling a telescope on the other side of the world.

Think Kent video series

Dr Stephen Lowry, Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Kent, and a member of the science team for the OSIRIS optical camera instrument on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, examines what the mission has revealed about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the formation of the solar system.

Independent rankings

Physics at Kent was ranked 5th for graduate prospects in The Guardian University Guide 2017. Of those graduating in 2015 with a degree in physics or astronomy, 88% of Kent students were in work or further study within six months, according to the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey*.

*conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes offered by the University in order that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas of interest to you or that may further enhance your employability.

Stage 1

Possible modules may include:

PH300 - Mathematics (30 credits)

Derivatives and Integrals: Derivatives of elementary functions, chain rule, product rule, Integrals of elementary functions, Evaluation by substitution, Integration by parts, Area under the graph of a function.

Elementary Functions: Binomial coefficients, expansions and series, Maclaurin series, Taylor series, Exponential functions, Hyperbolic functions, Inverse functions.

Functions of a single variable: Linear and quadratic functions, polynomials, rational functions, limits, infinite series, approximation of functions.

Complex numbers: Quadratic equations, Argand diagram, modulus, Argument, complex exponential, de Moivre’s theorem, roots of polynomials.

Vectors: Basic properties, linear dependence, scalar and vector products, triple products, vector identities.

Matrices: Matrix representation, systems of equations, products, inverses, determinants, solution of linear systems, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, transformations.

Differential Equations: Solving differential equations, separable equations, linearity, homogeneity, first and second order equations, particular integrals. Boundary and initial values, auxiliary equations with complex roots, coefficients and terms, examples from physics.

Partial Derivatives: functions of two variables , directional derivatives, function of a function, Taylor expansions, stationary points.

Differentials and Integrals: perfect differential, chain rule, multiple integrals, integrals over areas, change of order of integration.

Introduction to Vector Calculus : Gradients, Divergence, Gauss’s theorem, Curl, Stokes’ theorem.

Polar Coordinates : Cylindrical polar coordinates in two and three dimensions, integrals, spherical coordinates, solid angle.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PH302 - Computing Skills (15 credits)

Introduction to the concept of programming languages, and to Fortran 90 in particular.

Introduction to the UNIX operating system: including text editors, the directory system, basic utilities, the edit-compile-run cycle.

Introduction to Fortran 90, including the use of variables, constants, arrays and the different Fortran data types; iteration (do-loops) and conditional branching (if statements).

Modular design : subroutines and functions, the intrinsic functions.

Simple input/output, such as the use of format statements for reading and writing, File handling, including the Fortran open and close statements, practical read/write of data files. The handling of character variables.

Programming to solve physical/chemistry problems.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH304 - Astrophysics, Space Science and Cosmology (15 credits)

Introduction to Special Relativity and Cosmology

The distance scale; Redshif;, Hubble constant; Feynmann light clock and time dilation; Lorentz constraction and simultaneity derived with light ray signals; Lerentz transformation and invariant interval; Light cones; Special relativistic paradoxes; Cosmological principle; Space expansion and concept of critical density, closed, open and flat universe; The problem of missing matter.

Introduction to, Planetary and Space Science

Solar system; Theory of orbital dynamics; Kepler’s Laws; Earth-moon system; Tidal force and the consequent phenomena; Rocket equation; Basic components of spacecraft.

Introduction to Astronomy

Astronomical coordinate systems; Positions and motions of stars; Stellar luminosity and magnitudes; Magnitude systems and the color of stars; Lluminosity; Stellar temperatures; luminosity and radi;. Stellar spectral classification; Line strength and formation. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, mass-Luminosity relation.

Introduction to Particle Physics

Discovery of elementary particles. The concept of four different forces and fields in classical and quantum physics; Introduction to virtual particles and discovery of different particles for different type of interaction forces; Standard model of particles.

Introduction to Space Science

Rocket equation. Basic components of spacecraft.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH321 - Mechanics (15 credits)

Measurement and motion; Dimensional analysis, Motion in one dimension: velocity, acceleration, motion with constant acceleration, Motion in a plane with constant acceleration, projectile motion, uniform circular motion, and Newton’s laws of motion.

Work, Energy and Momentum; Work, kinetic energy, power, potential energy, relation between force and potential energy, conservation of energy, application to gravitation and simple pendulum, momentum, conservation of linear momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions.

Rotational Motion; Rotational motion: angular velocity, angular acceleration, rotation with constant angular acceleration, rotational kinetic energy, moment of inertia, calculation of moment of inertia of a rod, disc or plate, torque, angular momentum, relation between torque and angular momentum, conservation of angular momentum.

Concept of field; 1/r2 fields; Gravitational Field; Kepler’s Laws, Newton’s law of gravitation, Gravitational potential, the gravitational field of a spherical shell by integration.

Oscillations and Mechanical Waves; Vibrations of an elastic spring, simple harmonic motion, energy in SHM, simple pendulum, physical pendulum, damped and driven oscillations, resonance, mechanical waves, periodic waves, their mathematical representation using wave vectors and wave functions, derivation of a wave equation, transverse and longitudinal waves, elastic waves on a string, principle of superposition, interference and formation of standing waves, normal modes and harmonics, sound waves with examples of interference to form beats, and the Doppler Effect.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH322 - Electricity and Light (15 credits)

Properties of Light and Optical Images; Wave nature of light. Reflection, refraction, Snell’s law, total internal reflection, refractive index and dispersion, polarisation. Huygens' principle, geometrical optics including reflection at plane and spherical surfaces, refraction at thin lenses, image formation, ray diagrams, calculation of linear and angular magnification, magnifying glass, telescopes and the microscope.

Electric Field; Discrete charge distributions, charge, conductors, insulators, Coulomb’s law, electric field, electric fields lines, action of electric field on charges, electric field due to a continuous charge distribution, electric potential, computing the electric field from the potential, calculation of potential for continuous charge distribution.

Magnetic Field; Force on a point charge in a magnetic field, motion of a point charge in a magnetic field, mass spectrometer and cyclotron.

Electric current and Direct current circuits, electric current, resistivity, resistance and Ohm’s Law, electromotive force, ideal voltage and current sources, energy and power in electric circuits, theory of metallic conduction, resistors in series and in parallel, Kirchhoff’s rules and their application to mesh analysis, electrical measuring instruments for potential difference and current, potential divider and Wheatstone’s bridge circuits, power transfer theorem, transient current analysis in RC, RL, LC and LRC circuits using differential equations.

Alternating Current Circuits; Phasor and complex number notation introduced for alternating current circuit analysis, reactance and complex impedance for Capacitance and Inductance, application to LRC series and parallel circuits. Series and parallel resonance, AC potential dividers and filter circuits, Thevenin's theorem, AC bridge circuits to measure inductance and capacitance, mutual inductance, the transformer and its simple applications.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH323 - Thermodynamics and Matter (15 credits)

Static Equilibrium, Elasticity and fluids; Elasticity: stress, strain, Hooke’s law, Young’s modulus, shear modulus, forces between atoms or molecules, intermolecular potential energy curve, equilibrium separation, Morse and 6-12 potentials, microscopic interpretation of elasticity, relation between Young’s modulus and parameters of the interatomic potential energy curve, the nature of interatomic forces, the ionic bond, calculation of the energy to separate the ions in an ionic crystal, viscosity of fluids, Poiseuille’s law, Stokes’ law.

Thermodynamics; Thermal equilibrium, temperature scales, thermal expansion of solids, relation between thermal expansion and the interatomic potential energy curve, the transfer of thermal energy: conduction, convection, radiation, the ideal-gas law, Boltzmann’s constant, Avogadro’s number, the universal gas constant. The kinetic theory of gases, pressure of a gas, molecular interpretation of temperature, molecular speeds, mean free path, specific heat, molar specific heat. The equipartition theorem, degrees of freedom. Heat capacities of monatomic and diatomic gases and of solids. Internal energy of a thermodynamic system, the first law of thermodynamics, work and the PV diagram of a gas., work done in an isothermal expansion of an ideal gas. Molar heat capacities of gases at constant pressure and at constant volume and the relation between them. Adiabatic processes for an ideal gas. Heat engines and the Kelvin statement of the second law of thermodynamics, efficiency of a heat engine. Refrigerators and the Clausius statement of the second law of thermodynamics. Equivalence of the Kelvin and Clausius statements. The Carnot cycle, the Kelvin temperature scale.

Atoms; The nuclear atom, Rutherford scattering and the nucleus, Bohr model of the atom, energy level calculation and atom spectra, spectral series for H atom. Limitation of Bohr theory. Molecules. Solids and Liquids.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PS370 - Skills for Physicists (15 credits)

Standard Lectures

How Physical Sciences are taught at Kent.

Library use. Bibliographic database searches.

Error analysis and data presentation. Types of errors; combining errors; Normal distribution; Poisson distribution; graphs – linear and logarithmic.

Probability and Statistics. Probability distributions, laws of probability, permutations and combinations, mean and variance.

Academic integrity and report writing skills.

Laboratory experiments

A choice of experiments in weekly sessions. Some of the experiments require two consecutive sessions to complete.

Choice of (among others): Deduction of a law, Wind tunnel, Probability distributions, Geometrical optics on the magnetic board, Computer–aided study of electrical and electronic circuits, Heat engines, Waves, Firing projectiles with the model catapult, mechanical simulation of stabbing action, etc.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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Stage 2

Possible modules may include:

PH502 - Quantum Physics (15 credits)

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH503 - Atomic and Nuclear Physics (15 credits)

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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH504 - Electromagnetism and Optics (15 credits)



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;


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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH507 - The Multiwavelength Universe and Exoplanets (15 credits)

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


Observing the Universe

Telescopes and detectors, and their use to make observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. Basic Definitions: Magnitudes, solid angle, intensity, flux density, absolute magnitude, parsec, distance modulus, bolometric magnitude, spectroscopic parallax, Hertzsprung-Russel diagram, Stellar Photometry: Factors affecting signal from a star. Detectors: Examples, Responsive Quantum Efficiency, CCD cameras. Filters, UBV system, Colour Index as temperature diagnostic.

Extra Solar Planets

The evidence for extrasolar planets will be presented and reviewed. The implications for the development and evolution of Solar Systems will be discussed.


Basic stellar properties, stellar spectra. Formation and Evolution of stars. Stellar structure: description of stellar structure and evolution models, including star and planet formation. Stellar motions: Space velocity, proper motion, radial velocity, Local Standard of Rest, parallax. Degenerate matter: concept of degenerate pressure, properties of white dwarfs, Chandrasekhar limit, neutron stars, pulsars, Synchrotron radiation, Schwarzschild radius, black holes, stellar remnants in binary systems.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH508 - Spacecraft Design and Operations (15 credits)


(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.


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.

Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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PH512 - Data Analysis Techniques in Astronomy and Planetary Science (15 credits)


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).

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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  • PH520 - Physics Laboratory A (15 credits)


    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.

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    PH588 - Mathematical Techniques for Physical Sciences (15 credits)

    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.

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    Year abroad

    You spend a year in the USA, Canada or Hong Kong between Stages 2 and 4, studying equivalent courses to those you take at Kent. Our partner universities include Indiana University in Bloomington, several campuses of the University of California, Trent and Calgary Universities in Canada and the City University Hong Kong. If you take this course, you pay a reduced fee to Kent during your year abroad. You do not need to pay fees at the host university.

    Possible modules may include:

    PH790 - Year Abroad (120 credits)

    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.

    Credits: 120 credits (60 ECTS credits).

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    Stage 4

    Possible modules may include:

    PH700 - Physics Research Project (60 credits)


  • 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.


    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.

    Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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  • PH709 - Space Astronomy and Solar System Science (15 credits)


    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.

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    PH711 - Rocketry and Human Spaceflight (15 credits)

    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.

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    PH712 - Cosmology and Interstellar Medium (15 credits)


    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;

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    PH722 - Particle and Quantum Physics (15 credits)

    • Approximation Methods, perturbation theory, variational methods.

    • Classical/Quantum Mechanics, measurement and the correspondence principle.

    • Uncertainty Principle and Spin precession .

    • Key Experiments in Modern Quantum Mechanics (Aharonov-Bohm, neutron diffractyion in a gravitational field, EPR paradox).

    • Experimental methods in Particle Physics (Accelerators, targets and colliders, particle interactions with matter, detectors, the LHC).

    • Feynman Diagrams, particle exchange, leptons, hadrons and quarks.

    • Symmetries and Conservation Laws.

    • Hadron flavours, isospin, strangeness and the quark model.

    • Weak Interactions, W and Z bosons.

    Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).

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    Teaching & 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.

    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. If you do not meet the thresholds at stage 2 you will be required to change your registration for the equivalent MPhys programme without the Year Abroad option.

    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 multi-disciplinary 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.


    Our students go into areas such as research and development, technical management, computing, software design, the media and teaching. Many also go on to postgraduate study.

    Professional recognition

    Recognised by the Institute of Physics.

    Entry requirements

    Home/EU students

    The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications, typical requirements are listed below, students offering alternative qualifications should contact the Admissions Office for further advice. It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

    Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
    A level

    ABB including A level Mathematics and Physics at BB (not Use of Mathematics), including the practical endorsement of any science qualifications taken

    Access to HE Diploma

    The University of Kent will not necessarily make conditional offers to all access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. If an offer is made candidates will be required to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

    BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) on a case by case basis please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances.

    International Baccalaureate

    34 overall and 16 at Higher including Physics 5 at HL or 6 at SL and Mathematics 5 at HL or 6 at SL (not Mathematics Studies)

    International students

    The University receives applications from over 140 different nationalities and consequently will consider applications from prospective students offering a wide range of international qualifications. Our International Development Office will be happy to advise prospective students on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about our country-specific requirements.

    Please note that if you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes through Kent International Pathways.

    Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
    English Language Requirements

    Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

    Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

    General entry requirements

    Please also see our general entry requirements.


    University funding

    Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. Our funding opportunities for 2017 entry have not been finalised but will be updated on our funding page in due course.

    Government funding

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

    The Government has confirmed that EU students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support for the duration of their course.


    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 AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications as specified on our scholarships pages.

    The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

    Enquire or order a prospectus


    Read our student profiles


    Related schools


    T: +44 (0)1227 827272


    The 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:

    UK/EU Overseas
    Full-time £9250 £16480

    As a guide only, UK/EU/International students on an approved year abroad for the full 2017/18 academic year pay an annual fee of £1,350 to Kent for that year. Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. Please note that for 2017/18 entrants the University will increase the standard year in industry fee for home/EU/international students to £1,350.

    The Government has announced changes to allow undergraduate tuition fees to rise in line with inflation from 2017/18.

    The University of Kent intends to increase its regulated full-time tuition fees for all Home and EU undergraduates starting in September 2017 from £9,000 to £9,250. This is subject to us satisfying the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework and the access regulator's requirements. The equivalent part-time fees for these courses will also rise by 2.8%.

    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.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

    Key Information Sets

    The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

    If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

    The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

    *Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

    Publishing Office - © University of Kent

    The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000