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BSc (Hons) Physics with Astrophysics

Thinking space

2018/19 entry

Show 2017/18 entry

UCAS code

F3F5

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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Astrophysicists look to the skies to discover more about the nature of our Universe.

From the nuclear reactions that power our sun to the mysteries of dark matter, you'll study the great challenges of cosmology in topics aligned with our active research.

To explore the cosmos you'll need grounding in many disciplines of physics, from optics to electromagnetism, quantum physics to classical mechanics. You'll gain foundational understanding of fundamental physics, scientific principles and methods. You'll learn key skills for analysing real-life problems, write scientific reports to industry standards, communicate complex concepts, and solve mind-bending astronomical puzzles.

Accreditation

Our courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics (iop.org), guaranteeing the standard of our teaching and learning. Completing this degree will put you on track to becoming a Chartered Physicist.

IOP Institute of Physics

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Course content

This course will give you a grounding in fundamental physics and mathematics, alongside a range of advanced topics. Our core and optional modules will give you a broad base of knowledge, and opportunities to focus on the specialist subjects which excite your curiosity.

Specialist modules allow you to pursue a broad understanding of modern astrophysics, including stars, galaxies and the exotic concepts of dark matter and dark energy.

In your final year you'll form a team to design and carry out an original research project. You'll work under guidance from an academic supervisor to bring new knowledge and deeper understanding to an area such as radio astronomy, infrared spectroscopy or variable stars.

Study abroad

All of our Physics courses have 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. You'll study a range of key modules, and put your learning into practice in the lab throughout the year.

Core modules

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)

Mathematics I introduces some of the fundamental maths you'll need for studying physics. You'll cover calculus, complex numbers, vectors, linear algebra and matrices. (20 credits)

Newtonian and Relativistic Mechanics 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. (20 credits)

Experimental Laboratory I builds on your experience from school and college to develop the core experimental competencies required of a physicist. You'll observe and perform experiments related to your other modules to reinforce your learning. You'll work with a group to investigate an open-ended problem - an opportunity to show initiative in your experimental work. (20 credits)

Mapping the Universe (with Professional Skills) considers the Universe, our place within it, its constituent parts and the physical principles which govern them. You'll use the Cosmic Distance Scale to plot what's out there, and discover the techniques we use to measure it. In Professional Skills modules, you'll study with an eye to developing a range of abilities essential for high-level physics. (20 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 observational astronomy skills.

Core modules

Astrophysical Technologies, Planetary Science (with Professional Skills) introduces radiation physics, and instruments and techniques used in radio astronomy. You'll study study emissions from celestial objects across the spectrum, from high energy gammas to radio waves. You'll continue to develop essential professional skills which will be useful throughout your studies - and beyond. (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)

Mathematics II introduces vector calculus, essential for interpreting electric, magnetic and gravitational fields. You'll learn to mathematically express the laws of Gauss, Ampere and Faraday, and study the properties of real and complex matrices and tensors. (20 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 I 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)

Experimental Laboratory for Astrophysics II builds on your knowledge from your first year lectures and lab work. You'll learn how to correct and study astronomical images, develop your understanding of optics and work with a group to build your own telescope. (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 the field. You'll conduct original research to reach new conclusions and, at the highest levels, contribute to our understanding of the Universe.

Core modules

Galaxies and the Interstellar Medium and Cosmology investigates the properties both of galaxies and the universe as a whole. You'll review a range of observational tools, and trace the origins of the universe back to the Big Bang. (20 credits)

Introduction to Plasma Science and Technology and Stellar Physics draws on ongoing research at York to illustrate and explain plasmas. You'll use the expertise you've been developing for the past two years to understand plasmas, and the cauldrons of our cosmos, stars. (20 credits)

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. (20 credits)

BSc Project (40 credits)

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:

  • Practical Radio Astronomy
  • Observing Variable Stars using a Remote Observatory
  • Infrared Spectroscopy of Bright Stars
  • Gamma-ray circular polarimeters
  • Investigating Stellar Nucleosynthesis with an Astrophysical Reaction Network
  • Anti-roll gyrostat technology applied to land, sea, air and space vehicles

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

Pick one of the following optional modules:

Atomic Physics, Lasers and Modern Optics explains basic quantum mechanical treatments of atomic and molecular structure. You'll also study the interaction of light with atoms, and develop your understanding of the physics of lasers. (20 credits)

Introduction to Quantum Computing and Advanced Theoretical Techniques applies your knowledge of quantum mechanics to improving computer performances to levels unreachable by traditional models. You'll look at some of the mathematical techniques underlying quantum computing, and discover a range of mathematical tools for analysing more advanced theoretical scenarios. (20 credits)

Nanoscale and Magnetism will give you a working understanding of the physics and terminology of magnetism and magnetic materials, and introduce you to some of the state-of-the art techniques used in creating and characterising nanoscale materials. (20 credits)

Particle Physics and Relativity introduces some the principles and concepts of particle physics through study of some aspects of relativistic quantum mechanics. You'll go on to consider General Relativity, Einstein's theory of gravitation, which explains gravity as curvature of spacetime. (20 credits)

Quantum Physics III introduces advanced topics and techniques in quantum mechanics. You'll build on your earlier learning and make links with applications in nuclear physics and atomic structure. (20 credits)

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

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

Apply to assess and evaluate problems, providing solutions through the application of physics and mathematics knowledge and techniques.

Construct and execute a scientific investigation using the principles of physics in investigating a hypothesis, and interpret outcomes.

Communicate the integration and inter-relation of core physics, present sophisticated concepts and defend outcomes of physical studies succinctly in both written and oral formats to audiences in a logical way.

Interact and collaborate effectively within groups applying core physics themes and concepts to open-ended problems.

Use of appropriate digital technologies in data handling and understand the wider applications of these techniques in quantitative science.

Discriminate between modern astrophysics methods and articulate limitations imposed on understanding by assessing systematic and random errors in the interpretation of results.

It's a very rewarding course with plenty of opportunities to 'go your own way'. It's the only place in the UK where there is equipment for optical, solar and radio observations in the same place, so there's always something to do.
Dominic, BSc Physics with Astrophysics

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.

Working as an accelerator physicist I am involved with enabling the efficient, reliable and safe operation of the particle accelerators as well as understanding the underlying physics to help design upgrades and particle accelerators of the future.
Hayley, Physics with Astrophysics (2009), Accelerator Physicist, Science and Technology Facilities Council

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.

How you'll spend your time

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars408 hours
(34%)
396 hours
(33%)
228 hours
(19%)
Independent study792 hours
(66%)
804 hours
(67%)
972 hours
(81%)

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17. Subsequent years' courses may differ.

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 assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams64%67%57%
Coursework34%32%39%
Practical exams2%1%4%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17. Subsequent years' courses may differ.

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 Physics

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