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.
You spend the third year of this four-year degree at one of our partner universities in the USA, Canada or Hong Kong. You study equivalent courses to those you would take at Kent. The programme is also available without a year abroad. For details, see Physics MPhys.
The final year of the MPhys programme brings your core knowledge and skills up to an advanced level. This stage concentrates on the in-depth training required for a science-based career, including the practical aspects of the research processes and a major project within the School's research group.
Physics student Anthony talks about his course at the University of Kent.
You also have the option of doing a three-year BSc degree. For details, see Physics. It is possible to take the BSc with a placement year and gain valuable work experience. For details, see Physics with a Year in Industry.
If you do not have the grades you need to study on our BSc degree, you could take Physics with a Foundation Year.
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. In the MPhys final year, you work with a member of staff on an experimental or computing project.
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 2/3/4 assessments with maximum weight applied to the final stage.
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.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain a systematic understanding of most fundamental laws and principles of physics, along with their application to a variety of areas in physics, some of which are at the forefront of the discipline.
The areas covered include:
- Classical and quantum mechanics.
- Statistical physics and thermodynamics.
- Wave phenomena and the properties of matter as fundamental aspects.
- Nuclear and particle physics.
- Condensed matter physics.
- Plasmas and fluids.
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.
- Solve advanced problems in physics using 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.
- A working knowledge of a variety of experimental, mathematical and/or computational techniques applicable to current research within physics.
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 use of laboratory apparatus and techniques, including aspects of health and safety.
- The systematic and reliable recording of experimental data.
- Communications and IT skills which show fluency at the level needed for project work, such as familiarity with a programming language, simulation software or the use of mathematical packages for the manipulation and numerical solution of equations.
- An ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusion of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively.
- Experimental skills showing the competent use of specialised equipment, the ability to identify appropriate pieces of equipment and master new techniques.
- An ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning; an ability to make use of research articles and other primary sources.
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 ability to study within a different educational system and live in a foreign country.
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 based in part on an extended research project.
- 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; the MPhys is particularly useful for those wishing to undertake physics research.
- Generate in students an appreciation of the importance of physics in the industrial, economic, environmental and social context.
- To provide the opportunity for students to broaden their experience through studying abroad.