UCAS Code
F3G5
Entry Year
2017
A Level Requirements
A*AA-AAA
see all requirements
see all requirements
Duration
Full time 4 Year(s)
Taught jointly with Lancaster’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, our MSci degree in Theoretical Physics with Mathematics (Study Abroad) combines core physics and specialised theoretical physics subjects with classes in pure mathematics. This equips you with an understanding of the mathematical foundations of physics, for example, you will learn how quantum mechanics is underpinned by the powerful mathematical concept of a Hilbert space.
In your first year you will cover the core of physics in modules such as Quantum Physics and Electromagnetism, and the core of mathematics including geometry and calculus, numbers and relations, and probability.
In years two and three, the core physics modules are complemented by courses from the Theoretical Physics scheme and mathematical topics such as group theory and differential equations.
Students on our MSci (Study Abroad) degree scheme spend their third year studying at one of our partner universities in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada or Europe. You study the same subjects at Lancaster as students on our regular MSci degree scheme, and undertake courses at our partner institutions that are equivalent to those that you would have followed here.
In the final year of your course you take advanced options such as Quantum Information and Advanced Gravity and Relativity, and complete your extended research project on a topic such as Gravitational Waves, Quantum Computation, Physics of Graphene, Photonic Crystals, and Geometry and Electrodynamics.
Grade Requirements
A Level A*AA-AAA including Physics and Mathematics at A-level
International Baccalaureate 38-36 points overall with 17-16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including Physics and Mathematics
Other Qualifications We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international qualifications webpage or contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly
Essential Subjects
Physics and Mathematics are required for entry
IELTS 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each component)
Further information
General Studies Offers normally include General Studies if it is taken as a fourth A level
Combination of Qualifications Applications from students with a combination of qualifications are welcomed, for further advice please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly
Taking a gap year Applications for deferred entry welcomed
Interviews Applicants may be invited to interview
Contact Undergraduate Admissions Office + 44 1524 592028 or via ugadmissions@lancaster.ac.uk
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
Core
This module provides the student with an understanding of functions, limits, and series, and knowledge of the basic techniques of differentiation and integration. We introduce examples of functions and their graphs, and techniques for building new functions from old. We then consider the notion of a limit and introduce the main tools of calculus and Taylor Series. Students will also learn how to add, multiply and divide polynomials, and be introduced to rational functions and their partial fractions.
The exponential function is defined by means of a power series which is subsequently extended to the complex exponential function of an imaginary variable, so that students understand the connection between analysis, trigonometry and geometry. The trigonometric and hyperbolic functions are introduced in parallel with analogous power series so that students understand the role of functional identities. Such functional identities are later used to simplify integrals and to parametrise geometrical curves.
In Classical Mechanics you’ll apply the ideas of fundamental Newtonian mechanics to real large-scale systems such as rotating bodies, planetary systems and classical fluids.
Our focus is on gravitation, and its central importance in determining the large-scale behaviour of the Universe. You’ll look at concepts such as inertial and gravitational mass, Mach's principle, black holes and even dark matter.
We consider how to extend the principles of basic kinematics and dynamics to rotational situations, giving you an understanding of concepts of torque, moment of inertia, centre of mass, angular momentum and equilibrium.
Part of your time will also be spent looking at how to describe basic processes in the properties of materials including elasticity of solids and fluid dynamics.
Students are introduced to the basic ideas and notations involved in describing sets and their functions. The module helps students to formalise the idea of the size of a set and what it means to be finite, countably infinite or uncountably finite. For finite sets, we can say that one is bigger than another if it contains more elements. What about infinite sets? Are some infinite sets bigger than others? We develop the tools to answer these questions and other counting problems, such as those involving recurrence relations, e.g. the Fibonacci numbers.
Rather than counting objects, we might be interested in connections between them, leading to the study of graphs and networks – collections of nodes joined by edges. There are many applications of this theory in designing or understanding properties of systems, such as the infrastructure powering the internet, social networks, the London Underground and the global ecosystem.
Covering the basic laws of electromagnetism, this module allows you to investigate the similarities and differences between electric and magnetic fields, and to explore the basic concepts of electromagnetic phenomena including charge, current, field, force and potential.
You’ll begin by studying electrostatics, describing forces and fields due to charge distributions using Coulomb's law and Gauss's law. You’ll also look at the concept of polarisation, and how this can be applied to capacitance and combinations of capacitors.
Later on you will be introduced to magnetostatics, and will learn how to describe it using the concepts of field, flux and force, and the motion of charged particles in a magnetic field. You’ll also look at the origins of magnetic fields and Ampere's law, and Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction.
This module extends the theory of calculus from functions of a single real variable to functions of two real variables. Students will learn more about the notions of differentiation and integration and how they extend from functions defined on a line to functions defined on the plane. We see how partial derivatives help us to understand surfaces, while repeated integrals enable us to calculate volumes. Students will also investigate complex polynomials and use De Moivre’s theorem to calculate complex roots.
In mathematical models, it is common to use functions of several variables. For example, the speed of an airliner can depend upon the air pressure, temperature and wind direction. To study functions of several variables, we introduce rates of change with respect to several quantities. We learn how to find maxima and minima. Applications include the method of least squares.
A vast number of naturally occurring phenomena are modelled by differential equations, for which solutions are required to explain the behaviour of these phenomena. This module provides the student with techniques for solving a number of standard types of differential equation.
Students will apply these methods to naturally occurring phenomena, such as bacterial-population growth, tumour expansion and oscillating systems subject to forcing and friction, in order to explain their behaviour and seek solutions. The method of solution by Laplace transforms is also introduced.
This module introduces the student to logic and mathematical proofs, with emphasis placed on proving general theorems than on performing calculations. This is because a result which can be applied to many different cases is clearly more powerful than a calculation that deals only with a single specific case.
We take a look at the language and structure of mathematical proofs in general, emphasising how logic can be used to express mathematical arguments in a concise and rigorous manner. These ideas are then applied to the study of number theory, establishing several fundamental results such as Bezout’s Theorem on highest common factors and the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic on prime factorisations.
The concept of congruence of integers is introduced to students and they study the idea that a highest common factor can be generalised from the integers to polynomials.
Introducing the theory of matrices together with some basic applications, students will learn essential techniques such as arithmetic rules, row operations and computation of determinants by expansion about a row or a column.
The second part of the module covers a notable range of applications of matrices, such as solving systems of simultaneous linear equations, linear transformations, characteristic equation and eigenvectors and eigenvalues.
The ultimate description of the universe requires quantum and not classical mechanics.
In this module, we begin by investigating how specific experiments led to the breakdown of classical physics, before moving into the quantum world.
You’ll look at the basic ideas of wave mechanics, particularly wave particle duality, as well as considering the probabilistic nature of phenomena and the uncertainty principle through the Schrodinger equation and its solution for simple situations.
Probability theory is the study of chance phenomena, the concepts of which are fundamental to the study of statistics. This module will introduce students to some simple combinatorics, set theory and the axioms of probability.
Students will become aware of the different probability models used to characterise the outcomes of experiments that involve a chance or random component. The module covers ideas associated with the axioms of probability, conditional probability, independence, discrete random variables and their distributions, expectation and probability models.
In this module you’ll have the opportunity to explore the nature and methods of physics by considering the different scales of the universe and the areas of physics which relate to them.
You’ll model real phenomena and situations, looking at the physical principles which are fundamental to mechanics, particularly Newton’s laws relating to forces and motion, and the principles of the conservation of energy and momentum.
Later on you’ll also focus on the Special Theory of Relativity, beginning with Einstein's postulates and moving on to inertial reference frames, the physics of simultaneity, length contraction and time dilation, and space-time diagrams.
This module allows you to study the thermal properties of matter, and to gain an understanding of how to relate them to the fundamental mechanical properties of systems.
We begin with an introduction to the concepts of temperature and heat, thermal equilibrium and temperature scales. We then look at how to describe mechanisms of heat transfer, particularly in phase changes and equations of state, and the kinetic model of an ideal gas.
As part of the module you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the first and second laws of thermodynamics, including concepts of internal energy, heat and work done, heat engines and refrigerators, and entropy. You’ll then learn about the role of thermodynamics in describing macroscopic physical situations, looking in particular at temperature, entropy, work, heat, and internal energy.
This module is ideal for students looking to develop their understanding of vector algebra and coordinate geometry in a physical context, extending elementary ideas of functions and calculus to a three-dimensional description based on vector fields and potentials.
You’ll begin by exploring the real functions of many variables and their partial derivatives, followed by implicit differentiation of the functions of many variables and the chain rule. You’ll then go on to study the gradient vector in three dimensions in relation to directional derivatives, and will investigate the divergence and curl of a vector field as well as Stokes' theorem and the divergence theorem.
Vector Calculus places a focus on calculus in higher dimensional space, allowing you to develop your knowledge of parametric representations of curves, surfaces and volumes, calculation of areas and volumes including the use of changes of variables and Jacobians, and the calculation of line and surface integrals.
Core
Complex Analysis has its origins in differential calculus and the study of polynomial equations.
In this module you’ll consider the differential calculus of functions of a single complex variable and study power series and mappings by complex functions. You’ll use integral calculus of complex functions to find elegant and important results, including the fundamental theorem of algebra, and you’ll also use classical theorems to evaluate real integrals.
The module ends with basic discussion of harmonic functions, which play a significant role in physics.
This module provides students with a working knowledge of electromagnetion through Maxwell’s equations using the tools of vector calculus. Students will become familiar with the common connections between the many different phenomena in nature that share the mathematical model of a harmonic oscillator or of a wave. This module addresses the basic properties of wave propagation, diffraction and inference, and laser operation.
Students will develop an appreciation for the power of vector calculus and Maxwell’s equations for the description of electromagnetic phenomena, and will gain practical knowledge of Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, as well as thin-film interference fringes and anti-reflection coatings. Additionally, the module aims to enhance students’ understanding of the origin of polarisation, and the relevance of dichroism, along with an understanding of the basic elements of a laser, laser operation and important features of laser light.
The module expands students’ knowledge on topics such as Newton's laws, solution of one-dimensional dynamical problems, and Lagrangian, its relation to Newton's equations and the least action principle. This module includes lectures on analytical methods used both in classical mechanics and in broader areas of theoretical and mathematical physics. Students are given the opportunity to perform experiments in optics, mechanics and electric circuits which illustrate and compliment the taught material, and are additionally required to write a scientific report on one of the experiments.
By the end of the module, students will understand methods of integration of equations of motion for dynamical problems in classical mechanics, be able to use variational calculus in application to functionals and exploit the generality of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian techniques by using appropriate generalised coordinates. They will also be acquainted with the concepts of phase space, stability of motion and chaos. Additionally, students will develop useful techniques for experimental data collection and analysis and understand how to assess the statistical validity of data and their interpretation.
In this module you'll take existing examples of binary operations, such as addition or multiplication of numbers and composition of functions, and will then select a small number of properties which these and other examples have in common, and use them to define a group.
You'll consider the elementary properties of groups, and the way in which you can prove several surprisingly elegant results fairly simply. You'll also look at maps between groups which 'preserve structure', giving a way of formalizing (and extending) the natural concept of what it means for two groups to be 'the same'.
This module starts by considering the limits of sequences and convergence of series. You'll then investigate the notion of a limit, and extend your knowledge to functions and the analysis of differentiation, including proper proofs of techniques learned at A-level and in the first year.
You'll spend time exploring the Intermediate Value Theorem, and will have the opportunity to prove it from the definitions, and discover its surprisingly wide range of applications. Finally, you'll turn to the Mean Value Theorem. Earlier results ensure that its proof is now easy, and you'll be able to show that it, too, has many applications of widely differing kinds.
This module will give you the opportunity to study vector spaces, together with their structure-preserving maps and their relationship to matrices.
You’ll consider the effect of changing bases on the matrix representing one of these maps, and will examine how to choose bases so that this matrix is as simple as possible. Part of your study will also involve looking at the concepts of length and angle with regard to vector spaces.
Students will be introduced to various axioms for quantum mechanics, such as eigenvalues, diagonalisation, differential and matrix operators and commutation relations. They will also learn about rotations and angular momentum, the interaction of magnetic moment with static magnetic field and electron spin. Students can expect to investigate approximation methods, such as the time-dependent Rayleigh-Schrodinger perturbation theory, and time dependent interactions, including the Heisenberg picture and time dependent Hamiltonians.
Students will learn to apply quantum mechanics to problems in one and three dimensions, including the hydrogen atom, by solving the Schrödinger equation, and will develop the ability to find approximate solutions for not exactly solvable systems. The module will enhance students’ understanding of expectation values and probabilities in the context of experiments on quantum systems, along with an appreciation for the mathematical consistency of quantum mechanics.
Students receive an introductory concepts-based approach to the module, giving a basic understanding of nuclei and fundamental particles. The module covers the general properties of nuclei, such as composition, the forces within the nucleus, mass and binding energy. Students are then introduced to the standard model of particle physics, including the three generations of fundamental particles.
By the end of the module, students will gain a working knowledge of Einstein’s theory of special relativity, both conceptually and mathematically, and will understand why the theory has replaced Newton’s concepts of absolute space and time. Additionally, students will develop a broad understanding of the equivalence principle and its relevance for general relativity.
Core
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
MPhys projects vary from year to year and are tailored to suit the individual student and the available research facilities. This two-module project commences with a dissertation or literature review. Students will write a report on the project work and will conduct a presentation for the mini-conference in the summer term, along with gaining skills related to oral presentation of scientific research.
Project work gives students the opportunity to carry out research or a detailed investigation into a specific area of physics appropriate to their chosen degree theme. Students will develop and apply analytical and problem-solving skills in an open ended situation, involving use of the library, computer, and other resources as appropriate, working alone or in a small group.
By the end of this module, students will demonstrate the ability to plan, manage and execute an investigation an area of physics in a systematic way using appropriate techniques. They will formulate conclusions and critically compare with relevant theory, and may be required to generate and analyse data and critically assess experimental uncertainties.
Fractals, roughly speaking, are strange and exotic sets in the plane (and in higher dimensions) which are often generated as limits of quite simple repeated procedures. The 'middle thirds Cantor set' in [0,1] is one such set. Another, the Sierpinski sieve, arises by repeated removal of diminishing internal triangles from a solid equilateral triangle.
This analysis module will explore a variety of fractals, partly for fun for their own sake but also to illustrate fundamental ideas of metric spaces, compactness, disconnectedness and fractal dimension. The discussion will be kept at a straightforward level and you’ll consider topological ideas of open and closed sets in the setting of R2.
Optional
This module introduces a range of geometry and exterior calculus, including scalar fields, vector fields and convector fields. Students will explore p-forms, exterior derivative, metrics and Hodge dual, and will discover electrodynamics, more specifically Maxwell equations in terms of the Maxwell 2-form, 4-velocity fields and Lorentz force equation in terms of the Maxwell 2-form. Gravity is also covered, and students will engage in topics such as Einstein 3-forms, stress-energy-momentum 3-forms and Einstein equations. Additionally, students will gain knowledge of killing vectors, spacetimes with symmetry, conserved quantities and black holes.
Students will gain the knowledge required to display an understanding of the intrinsic, covariant nature of electrodynamic, along with a familiarity with handling the Einstein equations and field equations on curved spacetime. Students will also be able to formulate and tackle field theories on spacetime using tools from modern differential geometry.
Students will be offered a revision of elements of the theory of electromagnetism, before being introduced to the phenomenology of solid state magnetic phenomena. The module discusses Van Vleck's description of diamagnetism and diamagnetism as quantum phenomenon. Students will explore ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism, ferromagnetic exchange and the Heisenberg model, which includes self-consistent mean field theory. A description of ferromagnetic phase transitions and Curie temperature will be provided as part of the module, along with the elements of the Ginzburg-Landau theory of magnetic phase transitions.
By the end of the module, students will develop a knowledge and understanding of magnetic and electric phenomena in condensed matter physics, in addition to an enhanced awareness of recent advances and current problems in condensed matter physics.
The module offers a short review of special relativity, tensor calculus on Minkowski spacetime, differential calculus on Minkowski spacetime, and curved spacetimes. Students will explore general relativity, gravity as intrinsic curvature of spacetime, and the Einstein equations, along with predictions of the linearized Einstein equations, gravitational waves, and gravitomagnetic field equations. Students will investigate exact solutions of the Einstein equations, black holes and event horizons.
By the end of the module, students will have a basis knowledge and understanding of the theories of special and general relativity, and possess a conceptual understanding of the links between Newtonian mechanics and relativity. The module also provides a geometrical insight into the properties of space-time and relativity.
In this module you’ll have the opportunity to learn about Hilbert space, consolidating your understanding of linear algebra and enabling you to study applications of Hilbert space such as quantum mechanics and stochastic processes.
You’ll learn how to use inner products in analytical calculations, to use the concept of an operator on an infinite dimensional Hilbert space, to recognise situations in which Hilbert space methods are applicable and to understand concepts of linear algebra and analysis that apply in infinite dimensional vector spaces.
This module will address the necessary requirements for laser action, spontaneous and stimulated emission rates, Einstein coefficients, optical gain coefficient, and characteristics of the emitted light. Students will become aware of the different types of lasers, such as gas and solid state, semiconductor, dye, chemical and excimer lasers. Semiconductor lasers: homojunction, single and double heterojunction devices will be investigated, along with materials and operating requirements. The module explores fabrication methods, quantum well lasers, advantages and characteristics. There will be a focus on a range of applications including laser surgery, optical fibre communications, laser machining, pollution monitoring and remote sensing.
By the end of the module, students will be familiarised with lasers and their applications, including the operating principles of a variety of different lasers. Students will understand the many uses of lasers in industry, medicine and the environment.
The module begins by discussing what physicists mean by high and low temperatures, and looks at the different types of ordering that may occur as systems cool. Students will explore cryogenic techniques used for accessing such low temperatures are described, including the design of useful cryostats. Students will observe the new phenomena that occur when systems are cooled below room temperature and will consider electron pairing leading to the zero resistance of superconducting materials, the effect of magnetic fields, and the role of macroscopic quantum mechanical wave functions. The module provides an overview of the practical uses in superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs).
The module seeks to explore a selection of fascinating phenomena that occurs when cooling matter to temperatures more than a million times colder than the familiar 290K of everyday life and observe the significance for both physics and technology. Additionally, students will appreciate the relation between temperature and order, will know how low temperatures are produced, including dilution refrigerators, and will also be able to describe the phenomena of superconductivity and superfluidity.
Operator theory is a modern mathematical topic in analysis which provides powerful general methods for the analysis of linear problems, and possibly even infinite dimensional problems.
Early successes were in the solution of differential and integral equations. Now operator theory is also an extensive subject in its own right in the general area of functional analysis.
First you’ll review Hilbert spaces, before spending some time studying infinite-dimensional operators, notably the unilateral shift and multiplication operators, as well as basic concepts. You’ll then consider the criteria for invertibility of self adjoint operators, leading to the spectral theory of such operators.
Students can expect to explore two-dimensional electron systems, quantum transport in disordered low-dimensional electron systems and semiconductor quantum wires. The Landauer-Buttiker conductance formula is investigated, focusing on impurities in quantum wires, electronic transport in a magnetic field and the Hall effect. The module considers metallic point contacts, the point-contact spectroscopy of the electron-phonon interaction, and atomic break-junctions and the scanning tunnelling microscope. Students will receive examples of applications of scanning tunnelling microscopy as part of the module.
By the end of the module, students will have knowledge of the physics of nanoscale solid state devices and how these may be manufactured and utilised. They will enhance their awareness of the recent advancements and current problems in condensed matter physics.
In this module you’ll learn the basics of ordinary representation theory.
You’ll have the opportunity to explore the concepts of R-module and group representations, and the main results pertaining to group representations, as well as learning to handle basic applications in the study of finite groups. You’ll also develop your skills in performing computations with representations and morphisms in a selection of finite groups.
Students will familiarise themselves with crystal growth, including growth theory, faceting, impurity segregation and zone refining. The module presents students with a silicon case study, investigating semiconducting properties, silicon oxide, masking, surface pacification and photo-lithographic processing. Compound semiconductors will be discussed, covering band structure advantages over silicon, II-VI materials and effects of iconicity.
Additionally, students will explore thin film semiconductors, such as epitaxy, vapour phase growth, metallo-organic methods and liquid phase epitaxy, and the module provides a broad inter-disciplinary overview of the linkage between the physics, chemistry and other materials sciences involved in the synthesis of semiconductors and the devices made from them.
By the end of the module, students will develop an understanding of the basic properties of crystals and crystal defects, and will be able to describe how crystals are grown and discuss the main semiconductor used for microelectronics as a detailed case study. Students will also demonstrate how physics continues to play a major role in enabling information technology.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Physics is an exciting subject that is fundamental to the developments in modern society. Applications of the subject range from the very pure to the very practical, and a physics degree opens up a wide range of rewarding careers in scientific research and technological development, as well as in a variety of other professions. A substantial number of our graduates continue on to postgraduate education, or enter employment that directly relies on their specialist skills. Our students also find employment in careers where they are valued because of general skills gained during the course such as logical thinking, problem solving, numeracy and computer literacy. Examples include consulting, finance, computer programming, and accountancy, as well as managerial and administrative positions.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2017/18 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2016 were:
UK/EU | Overseas |
---|---|
£9,000 | £17,470 |
Lancaster University's priority is to support every student to make the most of their life and education and we have committed £3.7m in scholarships and bursaries. 400 students each year will be entitled to bursaries or scholarships to help them with the cost of fees and/or living expenses. Our financial support depends on your circumstances and how well you do in your A levels (or equivalent academic qualifications) before starting study with us.
Scholarships recognising academic talent:
Bursaries for life, living and learning
Any financial support that you receive from Lancaster University will be in addition to government support that might be available to you (eg fee loans) and will not affect your entitlement to these.
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students taking Part I of the course are charged £10 for a bound copy of the lab manual. There are a number of optional one-day visits to places of interest and students pay travel costs.
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
Taught jointly with Lancaster’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, our MSci degree in Theoretical Physics with Mathematics (Study Abroad) combines core physics and specialised theoretical physics subjects with classes in pure mathematics. This equips you with an understanding of the mathematical foundations of physics, for example, you will learn how quantum mechanics is underpinned by the powerful mathematical concept of a Hilbert space.
In your first year you will cover the core of physics in modules such as Quantum Physics and Electromagnetism, and the core of mathematics including geometry and calculus, numbers and relations, and probability.
In years two and three, the core physics modules are complemented by courses from the Theoretical Physics scheme and mathematical topics such as group theory and differential equations.
Students on our MSci (Study Abroad) degree scheme spend their third year studying at one of our partner universities in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada or Europe. You study the same subjects at Lancaster as students on our regular MSci degree scheme, and undertake courses at our partner institutions that are equivalent to those that you would have followed here.
In the final year of your course you take advanced options such as Quantum Information and Advanced Gravity and Relativity, and complete your extended research project on a topic such as Gravitational Waves, Quantum Computation, Physics of Graphene, Photonic Crystals, and Geometry and Electrodynamics.
Grade Requirements
A Level A*AA-AAA including Physics and Mathematics at A-level
International Baccalaureate 38-36 points overall with 17-16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including Physics and Mathematics
Other Qualifications We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international qualifications webpage or contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly
Essential Subjects
Physics and Mathematics are required for entry
IELTS 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each component)
Further information
General Studies Offers normally include General Studies if it is taken as a fourth A level
Combination of Qualifications Applications from students with a combination of qualifications are welcomed, for further advice please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office directly
Taking a gap year Applications for deferred entry welcomed
Interviews Applicants may be invited to interview
Contact Undergraduate Admissions Office + 44 1524 592028 or via ugadmissions@lancaster.ac.uk
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
Core
This module provides the student with an understanding of functions, limits, and series, and knowledge of the basic techniques of differentiation and integration. We introduce examples of functions and their graphs, and techniques for building new functions from old. We then consider the notion of a limit and introduce the main tools of calculus and Taylor Series. Students will also learn how to add, multiply and divide polynomials, and be introduced to rational functions and their partial fractions.
The exponential function is defined by means of a power series which is subsequently extended to the complex exponential function of an imaginary variable, so that students understand the connection between analysis, trigonometry and geometry. The trigonometric and hyperbolic functions are introduced in parallel with analogous power series so that students understand the role of functional identities. Such functional identities are later used to simplify integrals and to parametrise geometrical curves.
In Classical Mechanics you’ll apply the ideas of fundamental Newtonian mechanics to real large-scale systems such as rotating bodies, planetary systems and classical fluids.
Our focus is on gravitation, and its central importance in determining the large-scale behaviour of the Universe. You’ll look at concepts such as inertial and gravitational mass, Mach's principle, black holes and even dark matter.
We consider how to extend the principles of basic kinematics and dynamics to rotational situations, giving you an understanding of concepts of torque, moment of inertia, centre of mass, angular momentum and equilibrium.
Part of your time will also be spent looking at how to describe basic processes in the properties of materials including elasticity of solids and fluid dynamics.
Students are introduced to the basic ideas and notations involved in describing sets and their functions. The module helps students to formalise the idea of the size of a set and what it means to be finite, countably infinite or uncountably finite. For finite sets, we can say that one is bigger than another if it contains more elements. What about infinite sets? Are some infinite sets bigger than others? We develop the tools to answer these questions and other counting problems, such as those involving recurrence relations, e.g. the Fibonacci numbers.
Rather than counting objects, we might be interested in connections between them, leading to the study of graphs and networks – collections of nodes joined by edges. There are many applications of this theory in designing or understanding properties of systems, such as the infrastructure powering the internet, social networks, the London Underground and the global ecosystem.
Covering the basic laws of electromagnetism, this module allows you to investigate the similarities and differences between electric and magnetic fields, and to explore the basic concepts of electromagnetic phenomena including charge, current, field, force and potential.
You’ll begin by studying electrostatics, describing forces and fields due to charge distributions using Coulomb's law and Gauss's law. You’ll also look at the concept of polarisation, and how this can be applied to capacitance and combinations of capacitors.
Later on you will be introduced to magnetostatics, and will learn how to describe it using the concepts of field, flux and force, and the motion of charged particles in a magnetic field. You’ll also look at the origins of magnetic fields and Ampere's law, and Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction.
This module extends the theory of calculus from functions of a single real variable to functions of two real variables. Students will learn more about the notions of differentiation and integration and how they extend from functions defined on a line to functions defined on the plane. We see how partial derivatives help us to understand surfaces, while repeated integrals enable us to calculate volumes. Students will also investigate complex polynomials and use De Moivre’s theorem to calculate complex roots.
In mathematical models, it is common to use functions of several variables. For example, the speed of an airliner can depend upon the air pressure, temperature and wind direction. To study functions of several variables, we introduce rates of change with respect to several quantities. We learn how to find maxima and minima. Applications include the method of least squares.
A vast number of naturally occurring phenomena are modelled by differential equations, for which solutions are required to explain the behaviour of these phenomena. This module provides the student with techniques for solving a number of standard types of differential equation.
Students will apply these methods to naturally occurring phenomena, such as bacterial-population growth, tumour expansion and oscillating systems subject to forcing and friction, in order to explain their behaviour and seek solutions. The method of solution by Laplace transforms is also introduced.
This module introduces the student to logic and mathematical proofs, with emphasis placed on proving general theorems than on performing calculations. This is because a result which can be applied to many different cases is clearly more powerful than a calculation that deals only with a single specific case.
We take a look at the language and structure of mathematical proofs in general, emphasising how logic can be used to express mathematical arguments in a concise and rigorous manner. These ideas are then applied to the study of number theory, establishing several fundamental results such as Bezout’s Theorem on highest common factors and the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic on prime factorisations.
The concept of congruence of integers is introduced to students and they study the idea that a highest common factor can be generalised from the integers to polynomials.
Introducing the theory of matrices together with some basic applications, students will learn essential techniques such as arithmetic rules, row operations and computation of determinants by expansion about a row or a column.
The second part of the module covers a notable range of applications of matrices, such as solving systems of simultaneous linear equations, linear transformations, characteristic equation and eigenvectors and eigenvalues.
The ultimate description of the universe requires quantum and not classical mechanics.
In this module, we begin by investigating how specific experiments led to the breakdown of classical physics, before moving into the quantum world.
You’ll look at the basic ideas of wave mechanics, particularly wave particle duality, as well as considering the probabilistic nature of phenomena and the uncertainty principle through the Schrodinger equation and its solution for simple situations.
Probability theory is the study of chance phenomena, the concepts of which are fundamental to the study of statistics. This module will introduce students to some simple combinatorics, set theory and the axioms of probability.
Students will become aware of the different probability models used to characterise the outcomes of experiments that involve a chance or random component. The module covers ideas associated with the axioms of probability, conditional probability, independence, discrete random variables and their distributions, expectation and probability models.
In this module you’ll have the opportunity to explore the nature and methods of physics by considering the different scales of the universe and the areas of physics which relate to them.
You’ll model real phenomena and situations, looking at the physical principles which are fundamental to mechanics, particularly Newton’s laws relating to forces and motion, and the principles of the conservation of energy and momentum.
Later on you’ll also focus on the Special Theory of Relativity, beginning with Einstein's postulates and moving on to inertial reference frames, the physics of simultaneity, length contraction and time dilation, and space-time diagrams.
This module allows you to study the thermal properties of matter, and to gain an understanding of how to relate them to the fundamental mechanical properties of systems.
We begin with an introduction to the concepts of temperature and heat, thermal equilibrium and temperature scales. We then look at how to describe mechanisms of heat transfer, particularly in phase changes and equations of state, and the kinetic model of an ideal gas.
As part of the module you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the first and second laws of thermodynamics, including concepts of internal energy, heat and work done, heat engines and refrigerators, and entropy. You’ll then learn about the role of thermodynamics in describing macroscopic physical situations, looking in particular at temperature, entropy, work, heat, and internal energy.
This module is ideal for students looking to develop their understanding of vector algebra and coordinate geometry in a physical context, extending elementary ideas of functions and calculus to a three-dimensional description based on vector fields and potentials.
You’ll begin by exploring the real functions of many variables and their partial derivatives, followed by implicit differentiation of the functions of many variables and the chain rule. You’ll then go on to study the gradient vector in three dimensions in relation to directional derivatives, and will investigate the divergence and curl of a vector field as well as Stokes' theorem and the divergence theorem.
Vector Calculus places a focus on calculus in higher dimensional space, allowing you to develop your knowledge of parametric representations of curves, surfaces and volumes, calculation of areas and volumes including the use of changes of variables and Jacobians, and the calculation of line and surface integrals.
Core
Complex Analysis has its origins in differential calculus and the study of polynomial equations.
In this module you’ll consider the differential calculus of functions of a single complex variable and study power series and mappings by complex functions. You’ll use integral calculus of complex functions to find elegant and important results, including the fundamental theorem of algebra, and you’ll also use classical theorems to evaluate real integrals.
The module ends with basic discussion of harmonic functions, which play a significant role in physics.
This module provides students with a working knowledge of electromagnetion through Maxwell’s equations using the tools of vector calculus. Students will become familiar with the common connections between the many different phenomena in nature that share the mathematical model of a harmonic oscillator or of a wave. This module addresses the basic properties of wave propagation, diffraction and inference, and laser operation.
Students will develop an appreciation for the power of vector calculus and Maxwell’s equations for the description of electromagnetic phenomena, and will gain practical knowledge of Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, as well as thin-film interference fringes and anti-reflection coatings. Additionally, the module aims to enhance students’ understanding of the origin of polarisation, and the relevance of dichroism, along with an understanding of the basic elements of a laser, laser operation and important features of laser light.
The module expands students’ knowledge on topics such as Newton's laws, solution of one-dimensional dynamical problems, and Lagrangian, its relation to Newton's equations and the least action principle. This module includes lectures on analytical methods used both in classical mechanics and in broader areas of theoretical and mathematical physics. Students are given the opportunity to perform experiments in optics, mechanics and electric circuits which illustrate and compliment the taught material, and are additionally required to write a scientific report on one of the experiments.
By the end of the module, students will understand methods of integration of equations of motion for dynamical problems in classical mechanics, be able to use variational calculus in application to functionals and exploit the generality of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian techniques by using appropriate generalised coordinates. They will also be acquainted with the concepts of phase space, stability of motion and chaos. Additionally, students will develop useful techniques for experimental data collection and analysis and understand how to assess the statistical validity of data and their interpretation.
In this module you'll take existing examples of binary operations, such as addition or multiplication of numbers and composition of functions, and will then select a small number of properties which these and other examples have in common, and use them to define a group.
You'll consider the elementary properties of groups, and the way in which you can prove several surprisingly elegant results fairly simply. You'll also look at maps between groups which 'preserve structure', giving a way of formalizing (and extending) the natural concept of what it means for two groups to be 'the same'.
This module starts by considering the limits of sequences and convergence of series. You'll then investigate the notion of a limit, and extend your knowledge to functions and the analysis of differentiation, including proper proofs of techniques learned at A-level and in the first year.
You'll spend time exploring the Intermediate Value Theorem, and will have the opportunity to prove it from the definitions, and discover its surprisingly wide range of applications. Finally, you'll turn to the Mean Value Theorem. Earlier results ensure that its proof is now easy, and you'll be able to show that it, too, has many applications of widely differing kinds.
This module will give you the opportunity to study vector spaces, together with their structure-preserving maps and their relationship to matrices.
You’ll consider the effect of changing bases on the matrix representing one of these maps, and will examine how to choose bases so that this matrix is as simple as possible. Part of your study will also involve looking at the concepts of length and angle with regard to vector spaces.
Students will be introduced to various axioms for quantum mechanics, such as eigenvalues, diagonalisation, differential and matrix operators and commutation relations. They will also learn about rotations and angular momentum, the interaction of magnetic moment with static magnetic field and electron spin. Students can expect to investigate approximation methods, such as the time-dependent Rayleigh-Schrodinger perturbation theory, and time dependent interactions, including the Heisenberg picture and time dependent Hamiltonians.
Students will learn to apply quantum mechanics to problems in one and three dimensions, including the hydrogen atom, by solving the Schrödinger equation, and will develop the ability to find approximate solutions for not exactly solvable systems. The module will enhance students’ understanding of expectation values and probabilities in the context of experiments on quantum systems, along with an appreciation for the mathematical consistency of quantum mechanics.
Students receive an introductory concepts-based approach to the module, giving a basic understanding of nuclei and fundamental particles. The module covers the general properties of nuclei, such as composition, the forces within the nucleus, mass and binding energy. Students are then introduced to the standard model of particle physics, including the three generations of fundamental particles.
By the end of the module, students will gain a working knowledge of Einstein’s theory of special relativity, both conceptually and mathematically, and will understand why the theory has replaced Newton’s concepts of absolute space and time. Additionally, students will develop a broad understanding of the equivalence principle and its relevance for general relativity.
Core
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
MPhys projects vary from year to year and are tailored to suit the individual student and the available research facilities. This two-module project commences with a dissertation or literature review. Students will write a report on the project work and will conduct a presentation for the mini-conference in the summer term, along with gaining skills related to oral presentation of scientific research.
Project work gives students the opportunity to carry out research or a detailed investigation into a specific area of physics appropriate to their chosen degree theme. Students will develop and apply analytical and problem-solving skills in an open ended situation, involving use of the library, computer, and other resources as appropriate, working alone or in a small group.
By the end of this module, students will demonstrate the ability to plan, manage and execute an investigation an area of physics in a systematic way using appropriate techniques. They will formulate conclusions and critically compare with relevant theory, and may be required to generate and analyse data and critically assess experimental uncertainties.
Fractals, roughly speaking, are strange and exotic sets in the plane (and in higher dimensions) which are often generated as limits of quite simple repeated procedures. The 'middle thirds Cantor set' in [0,1] is one such set. Another, the Sierpinski sieve, arises by repeated removal of diminishing internal triangles from a solid equilateral triangle.
This analysis module will explore a variety of fractals, partly for fun for their own sake but also to illustrate fundamental ideas of metric spaces, compactness, disconnectedness and fractal dimension. The discussion will be kept at a straightforward level and you’ll consider topological ideas of open and closed sets in the setting of R2.
Optional
This module introduces a range of geometry and exterior calculus, including scalar fields, vector fields and convector fields. Students will explore p-forms, exterior derivative, metrics and Hodge dual, and will discover electrodynamics, more specifically Maxwell equations in terms of the Maxwell 2-form, 4-velocity fields and Lorentz force equation in terms of the Maxwell 2-form. Gravity is also covered, and students will engage in topics such as Einstein 3-forms, stress-energy-momentum 3-forms and Einstein equations. Additionally, students will gain knowledge of killing vectors, spacetimes with symmetry, conserved quantities and black holes.
Students will gain the knowledge required to display an understanding of the intrinsic, covariant nature of electrodynamic, along with a familiarity with handling the Einstein equations and field equations on curved spacetime. Students will also be able to formulate and tackle field theories on spacetime using tools from modern differential geometry.
Students will be offered a revision of elements of the theory of electromagnetism, before being introduced to the phenomenology of solid state magnetic phenomena. The module discusses Van Vleck's description of diamagnetism and diamagnetism as quantum phenomenon. Students will explore ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism, ferromagnetic exchange and the Heisenberg model, which includes self-consistent mean field theory. A description of ferromagnetic phase transitions and Curie temperature will be provided as part of the module, along with the elements of the Ginzburg-Landau theory of magnetic phase transitions.
By the end of the module, students will develop a knowledge and understanding of magnetic and electric phenomena in condensed matter physics, in addition to an enhanced awareness of recent advances and current problems in condensed matter physics.
The module offers a short review of special relativity, tensor calculus on Minkowski spacetime, differential calculus on Minkowski spacetime, and curved spacetimes. Students will explore general relativity, gravity as intrinsic curvature of spacetime, and the Einstein equations, along with predictions of the linearized Einstein equations, gravitational waves, and gravitomagnetic field equations. Students will investigate exact solutions of the Einstein equations, black holes and event horizons.
By the end of the module, students will have a basis knowledge and understanding of the theories of special and general relativity, and possess a conceptual understanding of the links between Newtonian mechanics and relativity. The module also provides a geometrical insight into the properties of space-time and relativity.
In this module you’ll have the opportunity to learn about Hilbert space, consolidating your understanding of linear algebra and enabling you to study applications of Hilbert space such as quantum mechanics and stochastic processes.
You’ll learn how to use inner products in analytical calculations, to use the concept of an operator on an infinite dimensional Hilbert space, to recognise situations in which Hilbert space methods are applicable and to understand concepts of linear algebra and analysis that apply in infinite dimensional vector spaces.
This module will address the necessary requirements for laser action, spontaneous and stimulated emission rates, Einstein coefficients, optical gain coefficient, and characteristics of the emitted light. Students will become aware of the different types of lasers, such as gas and solid state, semiconductor, dye, chemical and excimer lasers. Semiconductor lasers: homojunction, single and double heterojunction devices will be investigated, along with materials and operating requirements. The module explores fabrication methods, quantum well lasers, advantages and characteristics. There will be a focus on a range of applications including laser surgery, optical fibre communications, laser machining, pollution monitoring and remote sensing.
By the end of the module, students will be familiarised with lasers and their applications, including the operating principles of a variety of different lasers. Students will understand the many uses of lasers in industry, medicine and the environment.
The module begins by discussing what physicists mean by high and low temperatures, and looks at the different types of ordering that may occur as systems cool. Students will explore cryogenic techniques used for accessing such low temperatures are described, including the design of useful cryostats. Students will observe the new phenomena that occur when systems are cooled below room temperature and will consider electron pairing leading to the zero resistance of superconducting materials, the effect of magnetic fields, and the role of macroscopic quantum mechanical wave functions. The module provides an overview of the practical uses in superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs).
The module seeks to explore a selection of fascinating phenomena that occurs when cooling matter to temperatures more than a million times colder than the familiar 290K of everyday life and observe the significance for both physics and technology. Additionally, students will appreciate the relation between temperature and order, will know how low temperatures are produced, including dilution refrigerators, and will also be able to describe the phenomena of superconductivity and superfluidity.
Operator theory is a modern mathematical topic in analysis which provides powerful general methods for the analysis of linear problems, and possibly even infinite dimensional problems.
Early successes were in the solution of differential and integral equations. Now operator theory is also an extensive subject in its own right in the general area of functional analysis.
First you’ll review Hilbert spaces, before spending some time studying infinite-dimensional operators, notably the unilateral shift and multiplication operators, as well as basic concepts. You’ll then consider the criteria for invertibility of self adjoint operators, leading to the spectral theory of such operators.
Students can expect to explore two-dimensional electron systems, quantum transport in disordered low-dimensional electron systems and semiconductor quantum wires. The Landauer-Buttiker conductance formula is investigated, focusing on impurities in quantum wires, electronic transport in a magnetic field and the Hall effect. The module considers metallic point contacts, the point-contact spectroscopy of the electron-phonon interaction, and atomic break-junctions and the scanning tunnelling microscope. Students will receive examples of applications of scanning tunnelling microscopy as part of the module.
By the end of the module, students will have knowledge of the physics of nanoscale solid state devices and how these may be manufactured and utilised. They will enhance their awareness of the recent advancements and current problems in condensed matter physics.
In this module you’ll learn the basics of ordinary representation theory.
You’ll have the opportunity to explore the concepts of R-module and group representations, and the main results pertaining to group representations, as well as learning to handle basic applications in the study of finite groups. You’ll also develop your skills in performing computations with representations and morphisms in a selection of finite groups.
Students will familiarise themselves with crystal growth, including growth theory, faceting, impurity segregation and zone refining. The module presents students with a silicon case study, investigating semiconducting properties, silicon oxide, masking, surface pacification and photo-lithographic processing. Compound semiconductors will be discussed, covering band structure advantages over silicon, II-VI materials and effects of iconicity.
Additionally, students will explore thin film semiconductors, such as epitaxy, vapour phase growth, metallo-organic methods and liquid phase epitaxy, and the module provides a broad inter-disciplinary overview of the linkage between the physics, chemistry and other materials sciences involved in the synthesis of semiconductors and the devices made from them.
By the end of the module, students will develop an understanding of the basic properties of crystals and crystal defects, and will be able to describe how crystals are grown and discuss the main semiconductor used for microelectronics as a detailed case study. Students will also demonstrate how physics continues to play a major role in enabling information technology.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Physics is an exciting subject that is fundamental to the developments in modern society. Applications of the subject range from the very pure to the very practical, and a physics degree opens up a wide range of rewarding careers in scientific research and technological development, as well as in a variety of other professions. A substantial number of our graduates continue on to postgraduate education, or enter employment that directly relies on their specialist skills. Our students also find employment in careers where they are valued because of general skills gained during the course such as logical thinking, problem solving, numeracy and computer literacy. Examples include consulting, finance, computer programming, and accountancy, as well as managerial and administrative positions.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2017/18 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2016 were:
UK/EU | Overseas |
---|---|
£9,000 | £17,470 |
Lancaster University's priority is to support every student to make the most of their life and education and we have committed £3.7m in scholarships and bursaries. 400 students each year will be entitled to bursaries or scholarships to help them with the cost of fees and/or living expenses. Our financial support depends on your circumstances and how well you do in your A levels (or equivalent academic qualifications) before starting study with us.
Scholarships recognising academic talent:
Bursaries for life, living and learning
Any financial support that you receive from Lancaster University will be in addition to government support that might be available to you (eg fee loans) and will not affect your entitlement to these.
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students taking Part I of the course are charged £10 for a bound copy of the lab manual. There are a number of optional one-day visits to places of interest and students pay travel costs.
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.