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Physics (with foundation year) BSc (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): F314
  • Start Date(s): September 2024
  • Duration: Four years full-time
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: Clifton Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information

Introduction:

We believe in learning by doing – that’s why you’ll be building practical skills alongside an exploration of fundamental physics topics, such as the ideas of motion and mathematical techniques. During your foundation year we’ll build your physics skills and mathematics knowledge, and application of these concepts, so you are ready to move onto BSc (Hons) Physics in your second year.

We support you every step of the way to becoming a confident physics graduate. Part of that is giving you lots of hands-on experience through volunteering in our research labs, applying for a work placement and working on industry projects.

This course is perfect for you if you have a keen interest in physics. It really is the perfect blend of learning, both in the classroom and in the lab. We'll build your knowledge and theory whilst developing your hands-on skills in our well-equipped laboratories.

This course is an integrated foundation degree, where you'll progress onto our BSc (Hons) Physics course, once you successfully complete your foundation year. If your interests lie in other areas of physics, you can also transfer on to our BSc (Hons) Physics with Astrophysics or BSc (Hons) Physics with Nuclear Technology course after your foundation year.

  • Top 20 in the UK for teaching quality in Physics. (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023)
  • You’ll learn in inspiring environments. We have a custom-built, on-campus observatory, a radio telescope, a CT scanner, microscopes, MRI scanners, a scanning tunneling microscope and an ionising radiation lab.

What you’ll study

About the Physics Team

Our expert staff are constantly updating the way in which they teach Physics. Most of our staff conduct cutting-edge research and bring these inspirational results into their teaching. This ensures that what you learn is exciting, relevant and up-to-date.

Dr Ian Whittaker is our Undergraduate Physics Admissions Tutor. His passion is space science and has recently scooped two Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Dr Ed Breeds is a talented and cheerful lecturer, communicating topics in undergraduate physics in an entertaining and accessible manner. He spends most of his weekends telling the public all about physics at science festivals and events too!

Professor Haida Liang is an internationally recognised expert in advanced optical imaging and sensing for archaeology, art history and conservation, a field in which she applies her background training in astrophysics.

Dr David Fairhurst is an accomplished researcher in the behaviour of liquid droplets. He received the Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching in recognition of his inspirational teaching.

Dr Dan Brown, who teaches astronomy modules, is regularly interviewed on radio and TV for his astronomy work with schools and other outreach events.

Dr Nicolas Sawyer has a very student friendly approach to being Year One Tutor, along with expertise in optics and imaging.

Dr Martin Bencsik, who teaches and researches into MRI, studied for his PhD with the Nobel-prize winning Physicist Sir Peter Mansfield, co-inventor of MRI.

Foundation Science

In this module you’ll cover topics in Physics and Chemistry including exchange, transport and conservation of energy and inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. The aim of this module is to provide a sound scientific foundation for the study of engineering or mathematics at undergraduate degree level.

Foundation Engineering

This module includes basic electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering. Mechanics considers the consequences of applying forces to physical bodies; the electrical and electronics part of the module focuses on the scientific principles relevant to circuit theory, analogue electronics and components. Laboratory-based sessions will allow you to gain practical knowledge and experience.

Introductory Mathematics

This module provides an introduction to important mathematical ideas, including Algebraic rearrangement, Trigonometry, Vectors, Descriptive Statistics, Integration and Differentiation. You’ll gain an understanding of ideas that form the basis of later, more specialised, developments and you’ll be able to solve simple but realistic mathematical problems.

Intermediate Mathematics

This module aims to provide the link between Introductory Mathematics and degree level Mathematics. You’ll cover more complex topics such as the chain rule and integration by parts, the generalisation of vectors to matrices, the approximation of numerical series, logic and probability, complex numbers and mathematical proof.

Practical and Professional Skills

This module aims to provide a link between the theoretical modules on the course and their practical implementation. The professional skills aspect will help you with interpreting coursework requirements, exam and revision technique, note taking and referencing. The practical sessions will cover a variety of topics that require you to make use of the scientific principles and mathematical techniques that you’re learning in the other modules on the course.

  • Mathematical Techniques

Learn how to use some of the mathematical tools necessary to understand Physics. Build on any previous knowledge of algebra, calculus and trigonometry, before studying the concepts of matrix and vector algebra and vector calculus.

  • Classical and Quantum Mechanics

You’ll develop an understanding of how force, motion, and energy are related, from classical to quantum mechanics. The module reinforces your ability to use mathematical techniques to model physical situations. Your understanding is developed through laboratory experiments and note taking.

  • Introduction to Programming for Physics

This module gives you an introduction to programming for physics and the knowledge and skills to implement software solutions with a focus on a sustainable future. You’ll be using programming software such as Python, LabVIEW, MATLAB and C.

  • Properties of Matter

Introducing the basic structure and model of both stable and unstable nucleus, this module explores radioactive decay and modern applications of ionising radiation. You’ll explore beyond elementary nuclear physics to atomic bonding and some fundamental bulk properties of matter.

  • Concepts of Astronomy

Discover the key concepts in astronomy and astrophysics by studying a range of topics around the principles and applications of geometrical and physical optics. You’ll study the composition of the Galaxy alongside concepts such as principles for propagation of light and refraction and reflection.

  • Instrumentation and Physics Skills

Learn the skills needed to become a professional physicist in the module. You’ll develop good laboratory practices such as lab notebook keeping, organisation and safety alongside learning how to interpret and report your findings.

Core modules:

  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

Introducing the principles and applications of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, this module includes exploring heat transfer processes, thermal properties of materials, and the behaviour of gases, liquids and solids.

  • Fundamental Forces

Explore the fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. You’ll develop your understanding and appreciation of the principles and applications of fundamental forces and of the relationships between them. Study concepts such as Kepler's Laws, Newtonian gravitation and Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

  • The Quantum World

In this module you will study modern quantum mechanics. Through the application of the 1-D and 3-D Schrödinger equation you’ll learn how to model problems and scenarios.

  • Modern Optics and Image Processing

Discover the principles and applications of geometrical and physical optics and digital data / image processing. Studying topics such as lasers, lenses and electromagnetic waves, you’ll get an overview of the application of digital processing to scientific images.

  • Project Management and Enterprise

Learn how to achieve your project objectives within agreed financial, temporal and creative parameters. By working on a project you’ll establish creative and commercially viable outputs and solutions to contemporary problems alongside developing strong project management and team working skills - all valuable skills when you graduate.

Optional modules – choose one:

  • Nuclear Materials Science

Study the fundamental principles of materials science relevant to the nuclear industry. You’ll become familiar with the materials and mechanical properties of commonly materials used in the nuclear industry such as steel and concrete as well as the Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques.

  • Stars and Galaxies

You’ll study the physics related to astronomical objects such as stellar evolution and structure. Other topics covered in this module include kinetic temperature, thermal and non-thermal emission, dust and cosmic rays are explored.

  • Anatomy and Diagnostic Imaging

Supported by state of the art 3D anatomy software, you’ll study the anatomy of the human body. Explore image formation and how this can be applied to diagnostic medical imaging techniques such as ultrasound, planar X-ray and X-ray CT, and Positron Emission Tomography.

Core modules:

  • Solid State Physics

Discover the macroscopic properties of matter, focusing on solid state and semiconductor physics. You’ll begin with a review of statistical mechanics to progresses and look at topics such as diffraction patterns, magnetism and waves.

  • Applied Fluid Dynamics

Study both the theoretical topics and applying your learning to industry and research. You’ll be covering topics such as momentum transport, Newtonian and non-Newtonian flow and Bernoilli’s equation.

  • Project and Professional Skills

This module will give you training in the skills and techniques you need to undertake physics research and project work. With a particular focus upon transferable skills and employability, you’ll cover a wide range of topics including literature search and analysis, Ethical issues, risk assessments, scientific writing and progress reporting.

Optional modules – choose one from:

  • Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors

Get an overview of the physics underpinning the design and operation of nuclear reactors.  You’ll understand neutron-related processes and phenomena and gain an insight into design considerations and constraints, including fast breeders and fusion reactors. Current issues in nuclear power will also be considered including safety and decommissioning.

  • Satellite Instrumentation and Observation

Study the instrumentation onboard satellites, such as telescopes and spectrometers. You’ll explore the benefits and limitations of orbiting instrumentation alongside looking at a range of modern international space missions. Topics include solar system monitoring, Earth observations and satellite orbits, altitude and pointing.

  • Physics of the Human Body

Apply core physics concepts to better understand the processes of the human body. You’ll looks at topics such as blood-flow, viscosity and composition of blood, biophysics of limbs and bone structure.

And choose one module from group one or group two:

Group one

  • Practical Electronics

This module introduces analogue and digital electronics, including PCB design and fabrication and using common sector-standard equipment in a laboratory environment. You’ll study topics such as logic, control systems, microcontrollers and transistors.

  • Physics for Sustainable Development

Learn about alternative sources of energy and the physics of climate change in this module. You’ll study topics such as solar radiation, space weather, global warming and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Group two

  • Laboratory Interfacing and System Control

This module looks at a range of standard computer interfaces you’ll come across in a science laboratory. You’ll develop ideas of instrument control and signal processing through practical laboratory exercises. Topics covered include: Control systems, stabilising techniques, image capture and processing and sampling of signals.

  • Cosmology and General Relativity

Discover the theories surrounding cosmology and general relativity and the mathematical tools needed to understand them.  Topics study include: Geometry of the universe and Friedmann models, standard big bang cosmology, special relativity and Geodesics and the Schwarzschild metric.

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our students themselves

Student Profiles

Thomas Stocks

Physics with Astrophysics

Motorsport is the perfect place for anyone like me with a love of Physics and a desire to push to be the best.

Alisha Coates

Physics

I love that my job uses science to help benefit patients for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Healthcare scientists like physicists are involved in around 80% of clinical decisions!

How you’re taught

You will have around 18 hours per week of scheduled contact time with academic staff. This typically includes laboratory work, lectures and student centred activities. During the rest of your week you will be engaged in self-guided learning, and group or individual project work.

Most of our staff conduct cutting edge research and bring these inspirational results into their teaching. This ensures all our courses are exciting, relevant and up-to-date.

Get involved with our research

You’ll help to deliver research with impact. Our physics staff contribute to research activity in a number of areas including Superhydrophobic Surfaces, Medical Resonance Imaging, Art Conservation and Space Weather. Every year approximately ten of our students undertake paid summer placements in these research groups, giving them hands-on experience of cutting edge research groups. NTU has recently been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research – the highest national award achievable.

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn a new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have. Find out more about the ULP.

Staff Profiles

Edward Breeds

Principal Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Find out more about Edward Breeds, Principal Lecturer and Undergraduate Courses Manager in the Dept of Physics and Mathematics at Nottingham Trent University.

Ian Shuttleworth

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Dr Ian Shuttleworth is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at NTU.

Martin Bencsik

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Find out more about Martin Bencsik, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Nottingham Trent University.

Fouzia Ouali

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Fouzia Ouali Find out more about Fouzia Ouali, Senior Lecturer, in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Nottingham Trent University.

David Fairhurst

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

David Fairhurst, Associate Professor of Physics at Nottingham Trent University, Post Graduate Development Manager

Haida Liang

Distinguished Professor

School of Science & Technology

Find out more about Haida Liang, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Nottingham Trent University.

Rob Morris

Professor

School of Science & Technology

Find out more about Professor Rob Morris in the Department of Physics and Mathematics in the School of Science and Technology.

Demosthenes Koutsogeorgis

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Find out more about Demosthenes Koutsogeorgis, Associate Prof and expert in laser annealing of thin films in the Department of Physics and Mathematics at NTU

Careers and employability

Your career development

This course prepares you for a wide range of career opportunities both inside and outside physics. The course will develop your numerical, analytical, and computational skills, which employers highly value. Many of our physics graduates have gone on to work in high-tech industries, healthcare, research and development, teaching, business, management and finance.

Recent graduates have gone on to become graduate physicists, wind analysts, and aerothermal engineers in organisations such as the NHS,
Caterpillar and Balfour Beatty.

Many graduates also choose to undertake further study on one of our Masters-level courses or MPhil and PhD research degrees in areas including Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Quantum Computing and Detector Research.

NTU Enterprise

You'll also have the opportunity to turn your ideas into a viable business with help from NTU Enterprise, NTU's purpose-built Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, a support centre to help students create, develop and grow their own businesses.

Campus and facilities

You’ll be taught at our self-contained Clifton Campus which provides an ideal learning environment to complement your studies.

You’ll benefit from our well-equipped lecture theatres and laboratories which are supported by modern scientific, electronic and computing equipment, offering you innovative ways to learn and collaborate. You’ll have access to our state-of-the-art facilities to further your studies, these include:

  • a custom-built teaching observatory recognised by the International Astronomical Union with a 20-inch and a 14-inch telescope and a 2.3m radio telescope
  • MRI facilities, including a 2.35 Tesla Bruker Biospec scanner, a Halbach MRI and a unilateral MRI scanner
  • a microscopy and imaging suite including electron microscopes, confocal and polarising microscopes, an atomic force microscope and a scanning tunnelling microscope
  • a state-of-the-art micro-fabrication laboratory for creating micro-mechanical and microfluidic devices
  • an excellent Ionising Radiation teaching laboratory and three X-ray CT scanners.

Our facilities and expertise ensure that you get the practical experience that employers and researchers need. Recently, we’ve spent £250,000 on new equipment for our teaching laboratories including telescopes, CCD cameras, ultrasound scanners, magnetic resonance spectrometers, high speed cameras, thermal imaging equipment and a high resolution 3D printer.

Get Involved

Joining our student-run Astronomy and Physics Society is a great way to meet fellow physics students and make new friends. They organise social events and trips – all themed around hot Physics topics. Recently students have been searching for the Northern Lights in Iceland; visited the large hadron collider in CERN; and calculated the complex forces involved in roller coaster rides at Alton Towers.

Entry requirements

  • 72 UCAS tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent
  • GCSEs – Maths grade B / 6, Physics / Double Science grade B / 6 and English C / 4

To find out what qualifications have tariff points, please use our tariff calculator.

Contextual offers

A lower offer may be made based on a range of factors, including your background (such as where you live and the school or college you attended), your experiences and individual circumstances (you may have been in care, for example). This is called a contextual offer and we get data from UCAS to make these decisions. NTU offers a student experience like no other and this approach helps us to find students who have the potential to succeed here but who may have faced barriers that make it more difficult to access university. Find out how we assess your application.


Other qualifications and experience

We may also consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or beyond the beginning of a course where applicable, for example, into year 2. Our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy outlines the process and options available for this route.

Getting in touch

If you need more help or information, get in touch through our enquiry form

  • 72 UCAS tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent
  • GCSEs – Maths grade B / 6, Physics / Double Science grade B / 6 and English C / 4

International qualifications

We accept qualifications from all over the world – check yours here:

English language entry requirements

You can meet our language requirements by successfully completing our pre-sessional English course for an agreed length of time, or by submitting the required grade in one of our accepted English language tests, such as IELTS:

Advanced standing (starting your undergraduate degree in year 2 or 3)

You may be able to start your undergraduate course in year 2 or 3 based on what you have studied before.  This decision would be made in accordance with our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy.

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2494.

What do the course fees cover?

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our library, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Print and copy costs

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Students will also be required to pay additional costs for printing, poster preparation and final dissertation copies in their final year - estimated costs approximately £20 - £30.

A deposit is required for laboratory lockers (approximately £5)

Tuition fees 

Tuition fees are payable for each year that you are at the University. The level of tuition fees for the second and subsequent years of your undergraduate course may increase in line with inflation and as specified by the UK government. See our fees for 2022 entry.

Scholarships

We offer scholarships of up to 50% of your tuition fee. You can apply for your scholarship when you have an offer to study at NTU.

Living costs

Get advice on the cost of living as an international student in Nottingham and how to budget:

Paying fees

Find out about advanced payments, instalment plan options and how to make payments securely to the University:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

What do the course fees cover?

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our library, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Print and copy costs

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Students will also be required to pay additional costs for printing, poster preparation and final dissertation copies in their final year - estimated costs approximately £20 - £30.

A deposit is required for laboratory lockers (approximately £5)

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. So include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application. It’s your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place! You’ve got 4,000 characters to impress us. Make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you’re applying for. For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up-to-date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page. Good luck with your application!

You can apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not applying to any other UK universities, you can apply directly to us on our NTU applicant portal.

Application advice

Apply early so that you have enough time to prepare – processing times for Student visas can vary, for example.  After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Writing your personal statement

Be honest, thorough, and persuasive – we can only make a decision about your application based on what you tell us:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

The University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

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