Physics

Physics with a Professional Placement - BSc (Hons)

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If you are fascinated by the ‘how and why’ of the material world, our Physics degree equips you with the skills to understand these phenomena and prepares you for a range of career pathways. Opting to add a year working in industry gives you the chance to gain invaluable workplace experience and apply your academic skills in a practical context. It is also useful for assessing a particular career path to see if it is for you.

Overview

The School of Physical Sciences is a dynamic multidisciplinary department, achieving national and international excellence in chemistry, forensic science and physics. 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.

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

Our degree programme

In your first year, you get to grips with the broad knowledge base on which physical science is built, including electricity and light, mathematics, mechanics, thermodynamics and matter. You also develop your experimental, statistical and analytical skills.

Your second year covers a broad range of subjects including medical physics, quantum physics, atomic and nuclear physics, electromagnetism and optics, and mathematical techniques.

In your final year, the combination of specialist modules and an attachment to one of our research teams opens avenues for even deeper exploration: for example, in space probe instrumentation, fibre optics, the atomic-scale structure of a new engineering material, or neutron scattering work.

Year in industry

Your placement year takes place between your second and final years of study. Spending a year working in industry, you gain invaluable workplace experience and can also assess a particular career path to see if it is for you. We can offer help and advice in finding a placement. This greatly enhances your CV and gives you the opportunity to apply your academic skills in a practical context. If your work placement goes well, you may be offered a job after graduation.

You can take this degree as a three-year programme without a year in industry. For more details, see Physics.

Student view

Physics student Anthony talks about his course at the University of Kent.

Foundation year

If you do not have the grades for direct entry on to the Physics with a Year in Industry BSc, you can take Physics with a Foundation Year.

Study resources

You have access to first-class research facilities in new laboratories. These are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including a full characterisation suite for materials, including:

  • three powder diffractometers
  • a single crystal diffractometer
  • x-ray fluorescence
  • instruments to measure magnetic and transport properties
  • a Raman spectrometer
  • scanning electron microscopes
  • optical coherence tomography imaging equipment
  • optical spectrum analysers
  • two-stage light gas gun for impact studies
  • on-campus Beacon Observatory.

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 forensic science, chemistry, physics and astronomy 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.

Accreditation

Institute of Physics

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. 

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    A level

    BBB, including A level Mathematics at B (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

    34 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).

  • International Foundation Programme

    N/A

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

If you need to improve your English language standard as a condition of your offer, you can attend one of our pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes before starting your degree programme. 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.

After successfully completing stage 1 at your first attempt, with an average pass mark of at least 60%, you have the opportunity to spend a year in industry between Stages 2 and 3. We give advice and guidance on finding a placement.

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 gives students experience in using laboratory apparatus and equipment to carry out physics experiments. They will also learn how to record and analyse data and write a report. The module also introduce students to using programming/scripting languages to analyse data, and the mathematics of probability and statistics.

Find out more about PHYS3700

Stage 2

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

Compulsory modules currently include

This module builds on the students' previous introduction to quantum phenomena taught in stage 1. Students develop and enhance their knowledge of quantum physics through the study of the theory, formalism and fundamental principles. This module covers for example the Schödinger equation, its meaning and how to solve it for simple models, the superposition principle and probability amplitudes.

Find out more about PHYS5020

This module applies some of the fundamental principles of physics to the study of atomic physics. Students build on their knowledge of quantum mechanics through the study of the theory, formalism, and fundamental principles in topics such as the hydrogen atom, the effect of a magnetic field on the atomic structure or the X-ray spectra of an atom.

Find out more about PHYS5030

This module builds on the brief introduction to electromagnetic fields previously taught in earlier stages. Students develop and enhance their knowledge of electromagnetism through the study of the theory, formalism and fundamental principles. This module covers for example the principles of electrostatics, magnetostatics and Maxwell’s equations.

Find out more about PHYS5040

In this module students develop their experience of the practical nature of physics, including developing their ability to execute an experiment, and to use programming scripts to process data. Students also develop their skill in analysis of uncertainties, and comparison with theory. The module strengthens students’ communication skills and knowledge of, and ability to write, all components of laboratory reports.

Find out more about PHYS5200

This module gives students experience of group work in the context of a physics investigation in an unfamiliar area. The module includes workshops for advice about successful group project work, and culminates in each group producing a report and presentation.

Find out more about PHYS5300

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

Find out more about PHYS5310

This module builds on the mathematics taught in earlier stages. Students will develop and enhance their knowledge of mathematical methods used in the physical sciences. This module covers for example how to solve linear differential equations and Fourier transforms.

Find out more about PHYS5880

Optional modules may include

This module builds on the brief introduction to astronomy previously taught in earlier stages. Students enhance their knowledge of astrophysics through the study of the theory, formalism and fundamental principles developing a rigorous grounding in observational, computational and theoretical aspects of astrophysics. In particular they study topics such as properties of galaxies and stars and the detection of planets outside the solar system.

Find out more about PHYS5070

In this module you will gain a basic understanding of the major subsystems of a spacecraft system; knowledge of frameworks for understanding spacecraft trajectory and orbits, including interplanetary orbits, launch phase and attitude control; and awareness of the basic ideas of how space is a business/ commercial opportunity and some of the management tools required in business.

Find out more about PHYS5080

Year in industry

Please note that acceptance onto the course is not a guarantee of a placement. The responsibility of finding a placement is on the student, with help and support from the department. If you cannot find a placement, you will be required to change your registration for the equivalent BSc programme without the Year in Industry option.

Compulsory modules currently include

Students spend a year (minimum 9 months) working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied in the earlier stages of their degree programme. The work they do is entirely under the direction of their industrial supervisor, but support is provided via a dedicated Placement Support Officer within the School. This support includes ensuring that the work they are being expected to do is such that they can meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Find out more about PSCI5910

Students spend a year (minimum 9 months) working in an industrial or commercial setting, applying and enhancing the skills and techniques they have developed and studied in the earlier stages of their degree programme.

The report required for this module should provide evidence of the subject specific and generic learning outcomes, and of reflection by the student on them as an independent learner.

Find out more about PSCI5920

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

Students develop and enhance their skills of solving and discussing general problems in Physics (and its related disciplines of mathematics and engineering). For this module, only physical and mathematical concepts with which the students at this level are already familiar are used and required. Problems are presented and solutions discussed spanning several topics in the undergraduate physics curriculum (mechanics and statics, thermodynamics, and optics, etc). Problems are also discussed that primarily involve the application of formal logic and reasoning, simple probability, statistics, estimation and linear mathematics.

Find out more about PHYS6020

This module gives the student a brief introduction to the key aspects of optics fields. Students develop an ability to accurately deploy techniques of analysis in optics and photonics through the study of the theory, formalism, and fundamental principles. This enables students to describe, and solve problems with light interference and diffraction, fundamentals of lasers and fibre optics.

Find out more about PHYS6040

This module gives the student a systematic understanding of the key aspects of thermal and statistical physics, building on their previous introduction to thermodynamics. Students develop an ability to accurately deploy techniques of analysis in thermal and statistical physics through the study of the theory, formalism, and fundamental principles. This enables students to describe and solve problems related to advanced statistical concepts in thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.

Find out more about PHYS6050

This module builds on the students' previous introduction to the properties of matter, and electric and magnetic properties. Students develop and enhance their knowledge of condensed matter physics through the study of the theory, formalism and fundamental principles. The module provides foundations for the further study of materials and condensed matter, and detail of solid state electronic and opto-electronic devices. This module covers for example the structure of solids, free electron theory of metals and the study of semiconductors.

Find out more about PHYS6060

This module aims to develop the ability to undertake investigations where, as part of the exercise, the goals and methods have to be defined by the investigator. It will develop skills to perform literature searches, reviews and to plan, monitor and report on a project. These projects are open ended tasks, with an element of independent learning.

Find out more about PHYS6170

This module enhances student skills in planning, executing, and analysing a laboratory experiment. Experiments are performed to greater depths than ever before, with extensive use of laboratory notebooks, comprehensive data analysis, and a greater emphasis on understanding the relation to theory. In addition, the module enhances students’ ability to prepare the more detailed laboratory reports.

Find out more about PHYS6300

The aim of this module is to provide a primer into this important physics specialisation. Students develop and enhance their knowledge of medical imaging and radiology through the study of the theory, formalism, and fundamental principles. The range of subjects covered is intended to give a balanced introduction to Medical Physics, with emphasis on the core principles of medical imaging, radiation therapy and radiation safety. A small number of lectures is also allocated to the growing field of optical techniques.

Find out more about PHYS6330

The aim of this module is to provide a primer into this important physics specialisation. Students develop and enhance their knowledge of medical imaging and radiology through the study of the theory, formalism, and fundamental principles. The range of subjects covered is intended to give a balanced introduction to Medical Physics, with emphasis on the core principles of medical imaging, radiation therapy and radiation safety. A small number of lectures is also allocated to the growing field of optical techniques.

Find out more about PHYS6660

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £15400
  • International full-time £20500

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

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for Year Abroad

Fees for Home undergraduates 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.

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

Search scholarships

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is by lectures, practical classes, tutorials and workshops. You have an average of nine one-hour lectures, one or two days of practical or project work and a number of workshops each week. The practical modules include specific study skills in Physics and general communication skills.

Assessment is by written examinations at the end of each year and by continuous assessment of practical classes and other written assignments. Your final degree result is made up of a combined mark from the Stage 2 and 3 assessments with maximum weight applied to the final stage.

Please note that there are degree thresholds at stage 1 that you will be required to pass in order to continue onto the next stages.

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Foster an enthusiasm for physics by exploring the ways in which it is core to our understanding of nature and fundamental to many other scientific disciplines.
  • Enhance an appreciation of the application of physics in different contexts.
  • Involve students in a stimulating and satisfying experience of learning within a research-led environment.
  • Motivate and support a wide range of students in their endeavours to realise their academic potential.
  • Provide students with a balanced foundation of physics knowledge and practical skills and an understanding of scientific methodology.
  • Enable students to undertake and report on an experimental and/or theoretical investigation.
  • Develop in students a range of transferable skills of general value.
  • Enable students to apply their skills and understanding to the solution of theoretical and practical problems.
  • Provide students with a knowledge base that allows them to progress into more specialised areas of physics, or into multi-disciplinary areas involving physical principles.
  • Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding in physical laws and principles, as well as their applications. The areas covered include:

  • Electromagnetism.
  • Classical and quantum mechanics.
  • Statistical physics and thermodynamics.
  • Wave phenomena and the properties of matter.
  • Nuclear and particle physics.
  • Condensed matter physics.
  • Materials.
  • Plasmas and fluids.

Intellectual skills

You gain intellectual skills in how to:

  • Identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems and make approximations necessary to obtain solutions.
  • Solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools.
  • Execute an experiment or investigation, analyse the results and draw valid conclusions.
  • Evaluate the level of uncertainty in experimental results and compare the results to expected outcomes, theoretical predictions or published data in order to evaluate their significance.
  • Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical phenomena.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • The use of communications and IT packages for the retrieval of information and analysis of data.
  • How to present and interpret information graphically.
  • The ability to communicate scientific information, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports.
  • The use of laboratory apparatus and techniques, including aspects of health and safety.
  • The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in:

  • Problem-solving for problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems, including the ability to formulate problems in precise terms, identify key issues and have the confidence to try different approaches.
  • Independent investigative skills including the use of textbooks, other literature, databases and interaction with colleagues.
  • Communication skills when dealing with surprising ideas and difficult concepts, including listening carefully, reading demanding texts and presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Analytical skills including the ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas,  construct logical arguments, use technical language correctly and pay attention to detail.
  • Personal skills including the ability to work independently, use initiative, organise your time to meet deadlines and interact constructively with other people.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Independent rankings

Physics and Astronomy at Kent scored 89% overall in The Complete University Guide 2021.

Over 90% of Physics and Astronomy graduates who responded to the most recent national survey of graduate destinations were in work or further study within six months (DLHE, 2017).

Careers

Graduate destinations

Kent Physics graduates have an excellent employment record with recent graduates going on to work for employers:

  • Defence Science and Technology
  • Rolls Royce
  • Siemens
  • IBM

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.

The experience you have gained in your placement year will be attractive to employers, putting you in a good position as you look for full-time employment.

Professional recognition

Degrees fully accredited by the Institute of Physics.

Apply for this course

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply now to Kent

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

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