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BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Physics

"The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics" - Galileo Galilei

2018/19 entry

Show 2017/18 entry

UCAS code

GF13

Institution code

Y50

Length

3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

Fees for 2018/19 to be confirmed. See fees and funding.

International fees

£20,910 per year (2018/19)

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Mathematics and Physics are natural subjects to combine at university. Comprehending high-level physics requires a strong mathematical foundation. Mathematical models are developed to explain our observations of the physical world.

Our BSc Mathematics and Physics programme gives you access to the combined expertise of the Departments of Physics and Mathematics. Our specialist teaching emphasises the mathematical structure of physical theory, providing a strong basis on which to build a comprehensive understanding of modern physics.

You'll work with world-renowned physicists using sophisticated equipment to probe the nature of existence and push the boundaries of research. Facilities like our astrocampus and the York Plasma Institute give you unprecedented opportunities to observe and experiment, helping you develop skills demanded by employers across a huge range of sectors.

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the Institute of Physics (iop.org) and Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (ima.org.uk), guaranteeing the standard of our teaching and learning. Completing this degree will put you on track to becoming a Chartered Physicist or Chartered Mathematician.

IOP Institute of Physics‌ Institute of Mathematics and its Applications

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Twice the expertise

Work with world-leading tutors and researchers in two highly-regarded academic departments

Course content

Your studies will be split fairly evenly between the Departments of Physics and Mathematics.

In mathematics you'll explore areas such as dynamical systems, nonlinear dynamics and fluid mechanics. These modules, taught by mathematical physicists will provide you with rigorous training in underlying theory, allowing for greater concentration on your fundamental mathematics.

As your studies progress, you will complete a thorough grounding in physical knowledge, scientific principles and methods. Core modules will give you a comprehensive understanding of fundamental physics, while optional modules in your third year allow you to investigate favourite topics in further depth.

Study abroad

This course is available with an optional integrated year abroad. You can spend a year at one of our partner institutions in France, Germany or Italy.

Summer abroad

Spend a few weeks or a whole summer on a short course, volunteering programme, or career-related summer school with one of our international partners.

Year 1

Year 1 emphasises core material to consolidate your existing knowledge and prepare you for more advanced study.

Core modules

Algebra focuses on specific areas of pure mathematics, including vectors, complex numbers, matrices and linear equations. You'll use the power of abstraction to solve many similar problems at once, and develop essential mathematical skills. (20 credits)

Calculus consolidates and broadens your existing knowledge of calculus and differential equations. You'll then take a step up to study multi-variable vector calculus. (30 credits)

Classical Mechanics and Relativity with Professional Skills covers foundational concepts in physics. You'll learn methods for calculating position, velocity, acceleration and other properties of motion. Then you'll expand on classical mechanics with an introduction to the ideas and concepts of Einstein's special theory of relativity. In Professional Skills modules, you'll study with an eye to developing a range of abilities essential for high-level physics. (20 credits)

Electromagnetism, Waves and Optics will ensure you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of electric, magnetic and electromagnetic phenomena. You'll build on your existing knowledge and learn to describe and apply a range of foundational theories, concepts and laws. (20 credits)

Introduction to Thermal and Quantum Physics begins in Term 1, examining heat and kinetic theory, fluids and the solid state. In Term 2, you'll move on to quantum physics, discussing key experiments performed at the beginning of the 20th century. (20 credits)

Mathematical Skills I focuses on mathematical reasoning and communication, and the basic ideas of mathematical proof. You'll develop familiarity with mathematical language and notation used to work with sets and functions. You'll improve your ability to construct and present mathematical arguments. (10 credits)

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

In Year 2 you'll deepen your understanding of fundamental laws, processes and techniques. Advanced laboratory work will enable you to plan and execute extended experiments. You'll learn to approach problems creatively and develop your skills of experimentation.

Core modules

Applied Mathematics for Mathematics & Physics introduces some of the main ideas and theories of modern applied mathematics. You'll apply your learning to your Physics modules, developing your knowledge of theory and technique in tandem. (20 credits)

Electromagnetism and Optics will explain how Maxwell unified electricity, magnetism and optics into electromagnetic theory. You'll also study Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, and be introduced to laser physics. (20 credits)

Functions of a Complex Variable introduces an elegant and useful tool in theoretical physics and beyond. You'll learn how to analyse and work with functions of complex variables, and how they can be applied to solve real-world problems. (10 credits)

Linear Algebra will develop your understanding of vector spaces and matrices. This will prepare you for advanced study of models and concepts in quantum mechanics and other areas of Physics. (20 credits)

Mathematical Skills II introduces some of the fundamentals of the programming language Java. You'll then complete an individual project, either specialising in objects-oriented programming or exploring recent advances in mathematics. (10 credits)

Quantum Physics II covers atomic and subatomic quantum physics. You'll explore concepts of quantization, quantum states, and quantum interactions, and discuss atomic structure. (20 credits)

Thermodynamics and Solid State II introduces highly generalisable concepts with a wide range of applications. You'll consider the consequences of the four laws of thermodynamics and apply them to some simple systems. You'll also study crystalline solids, their structure, properties and behaviour. (20 credits)

Vector Calculus takes a more mature look at calculus, extending the skills you develop in Year 1. You'll deepen your understanding of the three differential operators of classical vector calculus: div, grad and curl. (20 credits)

Year 3

Year 3 introduces some advanced concepts, building on the expertise you've developed. Optional modules give you the chance to delve deeper into your favourite topic, or discover a new area of advanced physics.

You'll work on a group project to investigate a current problem in maths or physics. You'll conduct original research to reach new conclusions and, at the highest levels, contribute to our understanding of physics.

Core modules

Statistical Physics and Solid State II explores how statistical techniques can be applied to solve problems in thermodynamics and other branches of physics. The solid state element of this module expands on your second-year knowledge of crystalline solids. 

Maths or Physics project

The BSc Project gives you the chance to design and carry out an extended scientific investigation. You'll join a small group looking at a project which will require creativity and original thinking to tackle. Each project is supervised by a specific member of staff with relevant expertise, who can give advice and assistance.

Recent projects have included:

  • Simulation of plasma blobs
  • Atomistic modelling of RFeB permanent magnets
  • Geant Monte-Carlo simulations for the electrons detection system at ISOLDE(CERN)
  • Correlation in systems of interacting electrons
  • Probing the structure and dynamics of DNA
  • Raman spectroscopy studies of archaeological bone

You'll be supported by a professional skills module, building on the expertise developed in Years 1 and 2. You'll work with a team to develop a talk and academic poster to be given at a conference at the end of the year.

Optional modules

Choose two of the following maths modules:

Choose one of the following physics modules:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 (2017/18)

Fees for 2018/19 are subject to increase in line with government policy. Updated fees information will be published as soon as possible after the government announcement.
£20,910

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.

Funding

We offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

Physics Academic Excellence Scholarships

We offer £1,000 in each year of your degree if you achieve an A* or equivalent in Mathematics or Physics and select York as your firm choice when applying. This scholarship is renewable each year, subject to attaining full credits and an overall mark of 70 per cent or higher at your first attempt.

Master Class Research Placements

If you achieved an A* or equivalent in A level Mathematics or Physics and maintain an overall mark of 70% or higher Year 1 you'll be guaranteed a paid summer placement with one our research groups.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Much of your teaching will be in the form of lectures based on our cutting-edge research. These are supported by hands-on lab work and weekly mathematics problem classes in which you can apply and crystallise your learning. Twice a week you'll join four or five other students to discuss course material with a tutor. Discussions often range beyond the immediate subject matter to wider implications and issues.

You'll have regular meetings with a personal academic supervisor, who will guide your studies and keep an eye on your academic progress and general welfare.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars360 hours
(30%)
300 hours
(25%)
204 hours
(17%)
Independent study840 hours
(70%)
900 hours
(75%)
996 hours
(83%)

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Independent study may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You'll be based in the Department of Physics on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in the Department, with some classes elsewhere on Campus West.

Course location

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Most of your assessment will be by formal examination. You'll also be marked on regular problem exercises and laboratory work, coursework and formal report writing. We balance various types of assessment to develop and test your different strengths:

  • Examinations
  • Extended assignments
  • Weekly problems
  • Formal reports
  • Practical laboratory work
  • Presentations
  • Practical research methods

You'll get prompt, regular feedback to help you develop your skills. Our open door policy means you can always approach your tutors if you want to discuss your work.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams82%85%57%
Coursework18%15%40%
Practical exams0%0%3%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

For me one of the best things about York is its friendly and inclusive atmosphere. The Physics staff are really welcoming and supportive.
Emma, MPhys Physics

Read more on Emma's blog.

Careers and skills

Our graduates are sought by employers in a huge range of disciplines. 96% of our graduates were employed or in further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2015/16).

Many of our graduates progress to postgraduate degrees at York and other leading universities. However, the skills you will learn - analysis, mathematics, problem-solving - are relevant in industries from finance to software development.

We're committed to supporting our students' career development and employability - it's embedded in our core teaching. We organise activities from careers fairs to leadership building exercises to ensure you're prepared to enter the jobs market with a competitive edge. 91% of our graduates in employment are in graduate or professional level jobs, putting us in 2nd place in the Times Graduate Destination Indicator (DLHE, 2015/16).

Career opportunities

Our graduates are working as:

  • Accelerator Physicist, Science and Technology Council
  • Engineer, BAE Systems
  • Scientist, The Home Office
  • Financial Coordinator, De Vere
  • IT Analyst and Consultant, Virgin money
  • Teacher
  • Electrical Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover
  • Environmental Modeller, E.ON
  • Accountant, John Lewis

Transferable skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication skills
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity and innovation
  • IT literacy
  • Mathematics

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
A levels

AAB including A in Physics and Maths.

This must include a pass in all practical components (where offered).

Your third A level can be in a wide range of acceptable subjects. We do not accept General Studies or Critical Thinking.

We may consider AS Maths at A grade instead of A level Maths. In this case you'll attend additional maths classes in your first year of study.

Cambridge Pre-U D3 D3 M2 in 3 principal subjects including D3 in Physics and Maths
European Baccalaureate 80% overall, with 85% in Physics and Maths
Other qualifications

All other qualifications, including Scottish Highers and Irish Leaving Certificates, will be considered individually.

If you don't have suitable qualifications in Maths and/or Physics, successfully completing a Foundation Year will guarantee a place on any of our undergraduate degrees:

We welcome applications from mature students and students without standard qualifications. Please contact our admissions team to discuss your specific circumstances.

You may also be interested in our part-time access course:

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.0, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
  • Pearson: 55, with a minimum of 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 169, with a minimum of 169 each component
  • TOEFL: 79 overall, with a minimum of 19 in Listening, 20 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 19 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE III: Pass in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

Applying

To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Interview days

If we're thinking about making you an offer, we'll invite you to an interview day. This gives us a chance to discuss your choice of course and get a better picture of you as an individual. You'll get a chance to look around the Department and University, attend a mini-lecture, take part in some hands-on activities, and talk to our academics and student ambassadors.

International applicants

If you're applying from outside the UK we can arrange telephone interviews. Part of the interview takes place online, so you'll need to be able to connect to the internet while you are on the phone.

Next steps

Contact us

Contact our admissions team if you have any questions

Learn more

Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics

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