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.
As a foundation year student, you are a full member of the University and can take part in all student activities.
Our degree programme
This programme is for science students who do not meet the requirements for direct entry to Stage 1 of our degree programmes. It is also an excellent conversion course for applicants who have shown academic ability in non-science subjects. We also consider applicants without traditional academic qualifications who have relevant professional experience.
In your foundation year, you study mathematics, physics, electronics and computing, and take part in practical classes. Successful completion of the foundation year guarantees entry onto any of the School’s Physics or Astronomy degree courses.
In the first year of the BSc, 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.
Physics student Anthony talks about his course at the University of Kent.
Year in industry
It is possible to add a placement year to the degree programme and gain valuable work experience. For more details, see Physics with a Year in Industry.
In your third year of the BSc you could also opt to study abroad at one of our partner universities. For more details, see Physics with a Year Abroad.
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 diffractometersa single crystal diffractometerx-ray fluorescenceinstruments to measure magnetic and transport propertiesa Raman spectrometerscanning electron microscopesoptical coherence tomography imaging equipmentoptical spectrum analyserstwo-stage light gas gun for impact studieson-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.
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 topicsthe student-run Physics and Space Societies, which organise talks with top industry professionals, practical demonstrations and social events
The School of Physical Sciences also has links with:
the Home Officeoptical laboratorieslocal health authoritiesaerospace/defence industriessoftware and engineering companiesInterpol.
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 you must pass all modules of the foundation year in order to progress onto stage 1.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding in physical laws and principles and their applications. Areas covered include:
- Laws of motion.
- Wave phenomena and the properties of matter.
- Necessary aspects of mathematics.
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.
- Use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical phenomena.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- How to to present and interpret information graphically.
- Communicating scientific information, in particular producing 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.
- Making use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning.
You gain transferable skills in:
- Problem-solving 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.
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.
- 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 and skills base from which they can proceed to Stage 1 of any of the Physics or Physics-based degrees at the University of Kent.
- Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts.