Our BSc Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology degree develops your understanding of the relationship between the physical laws of the universe and the astrophysical and cosmological domains. The specialist teaching is informed by our world-leading activities in space and planetary science, observational astrophysics and particle cosmology, and culminates in an investigative group project and specialist options in year three.
You will obtain a thorough grounding in core physics areas such as Quantum Physics and Electromagnetism in your first year, Quantum Mechanics and Relativity in your second year, and Particle and Atomic Physics in your third year. Furthermore, this scheme also includes lectures on Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology in your second year and Stellar Astrophysics and Big Bang Cosmology in your third year, as well as specialised laboratory work in Astrophysics and Cosmology.
In your final year, you also carry out an investigative Astrophysics or Cosmology group project where you tackle a problem of current research.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level Mathematics grade A and A level Physics grade A
IELTS 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
Interviews Applicants may be interviewed before being made an offer.
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including 6 in Mathematics HL (either analysis and approaches or applications and interpretations) and Physics HL
BTEC May be considered alongside A level Mathematics and A level Physics.
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualifications. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
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 to complement your main specialism. 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 please visit our Teaching and Learning section.
The following courses do not offer modules outside of the subject area due to the structured nature of the programmes: Architecture, Law, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Sports and Exercise Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Biomedical Science.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.
This module is made up of both lectures and practical sessions, aiming to developing your communication skills through the preparation and delivery of a verbal presentation and written scientific report.
The lectures will allow you to consider systematic approaches to problem solving including good methods in working and presenting answers, and in selecting and testing maths expressions in modelling.
You’ll also develop a theoretical understanding of the basic principles of measurement and record-keeping, and will look at the best methods for assessing the significance of experimental data through consideration of uncertainties and statistical analysis.
Your practical sessions develop your skills and awareness for implementing informed career decisions. You’ll also explore the need for ethical behaviour, both in the context of an undergraduate physics degree and scientific research in general.
In Classical Mechanics students will apply the ideas of fundamental Newtonian mechanics to real large scale systems such as rotating bodies, planetary systems and classical fluids.
The focus is on gravitation and its central importance in determining the large scale behaviour of the Universe. Concepts such as inertial and gravitational mass, Mach's principle, black holes and even dark matter will be explored.
This module will consider how to extend the principles of basic kinematics and dynamics to rotational situations, giving students an understanding of concepts of torque, moment of inertia, centre of mass, angular momentum and equilibrium.
Time will be spent looking at how to describe basic processes in the properties of materials including elasticity of solids and fluid dynamics.
This module provides an introduction to the concept of complex numbers and how they relate to applications in modelling physical ideas.
You’ll begin by investigating the principle of complex representation, looking at real and imaginary numbers, complex conjugation, Argand diagrams and different representations of complex numbers, such as Cartesian, polar, and exponential.
You’ll then develop skills in the manipulation of complex functions and the determination of the complex roots of equations. You’ll also consider physical applications, such as the use of complex methods in AC circuit analysis, the complex representation of harmonic waves, and the solution of differential equations describing damped oscillatory motion.
Covering the basic laws of electromagnetism, this module allows students 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.
The module will begin by studying electrostatics, describing forces and fields due to charge distributions using Coulomb's law and Gauss's law. Students will also look at the concept of polarisation, and how this can be applied to capacitance and combinations of capacitors.
Later on, the module will introduce magnetostatics, and students will learn how to describe it using the concepts of field, flux and force, and the motion of charged particles in a magnetic field. They will also look at the origins of magnetic fields, Ampere's law and Faraday's law of electromagnetic induction.
This exciting module has practical emphasis. Through exploration of the effect of simple electrical components in DC and AC circuits you’ll build an understanding of the basic principles determining the behaviour of voltage and current in DC and AC circuits, and you’ll learn to quantitatively analyse circuits containing resistance, capacitance and inductance.
Working in the laboratory, you’ll gain practical experience of using instruments and experimental equipment, and develop your skills in making experimental measurements, recording and analysing data, and report writing.
Mathematical functions are used to describe physical phenomena and their graphical representation.
This module is ideal for students wanting to gain a sound understanding of algebra, vectors and differentiation, and provides the tools needed for solving elementary equations involved in mathematical modelling, while strengthening problem-solving skills.
During the course, you’ll consider the fundamental principle of differentiation, and its relation to the slope of a graph. You’ll also learn how to differentiate basic functions directly, and how to use systematic techniques for combinations of functions.
This module is ideal for students looking for a firm grounding in integration techniques.
The module opens with an exploration of the fundamental principle of single-variable integration and its relation to the area under a graph. This allows us to directly integrate a variety of basic functions of one variable.
You’ll then consider systematic techniques to tackle more complicated integrals of one variable including integration by parts and by substitution.
Finally you’ll study the important basic integrals over lines, areas and volumes.
In this module you’ll be introduced to the principles of geometrical optics and will learn how to practically apply them to instruments and experimental equipment in a laboratory setting, giving you a practical reference for the physical principles discussed in your lectures.
You’ll develop your understanding of commonly encountered optical phenomena, use geometrical optics to analyse optical systems, and understand the functions and basic principles of operation of some important optical instruments.
This exciting practical module on Oscillations and Waves allows you to investigate how wave and oscillatory phenomena arising in quite different areas of physics can be described in a very similar way, focusing in particular on the widely applicable model of simple harmonic motion.
You’ll then learn to recognise the wave equation and will develop the ability to solve it for a general situation, to calculate appropriate physical parameters describing a wave, and understand universal wave phenomena such as interference, beats and wave packets.
Part of this module is taught in the laboratory, giving you the opportunity to work with a wide range of measurement instrumentation. Through your practical work you’ll also gain an appreciation for the importance of uncertainties in experimental measurements and how to apply them in an appropriate manner.
The ultimate description of the Universe requires quantum and not classical mechanics. This module begins by investigating how specific experiments led to the breakdown of classical physics, before moving into the quantum world.
Students will look at the basic ideas of wave mechanics, particularly wave particle duality, and will consider the probabilistic nature of phenomena and the uncertainty principle through the Schrodinger equation and its solution for simple situations.
Other topics that will be studied include the photoelectric effect, the nuclear atom and single slit diffraction. Ultimately, the students will be able to apply their knowledge to modelling real phenomena and situations.
This module develops knowledge of series and functions as well as introducing ordinary differential equations and methods of solving them.
You’ll first gain a good grounding in series and their formal representation, including geometric series, binomial expansion and the Taylor expansion. You’ll then learn to describe the representation of functions by series, using trigonometric and exponential functions.
In the second part of the module you’ll explore differential equations and their role in physics, including separable first order differential equations, second order differential equations for conservative systems and the method of integrating multiplier. As part of this you’ll also look at physical examples such as driven systems, harmonic force and the phenomenon of resonance.
In this module students will 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.
They will 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, the Special Theory of Relativity will be the main focus, 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 focuses on the study of the thermal properties of matter, during which students will gain an understanding of how to relate them to the fundamental mechanical properties of systems.
It will begin with an introduction to the concepts of temperature and heat, thermal equilibrium and temperature scales. Then students will look at how to describe mechanisms of heat transfer, particularly in phase changes, equations of state and the kinetic model of an ideal gas.
As part of the module students will 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. They will 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.
This module will introduce you to the methodology of vectors and vector algebra, including their application to three-dimensional motion, during a series of lectures and practical sessions.
You’ll learn to recognise the orthogonality of the dimensions of space and use vectors to describe them; demonstrate a facility with the techniques of vector algebra, including the use of vector products; and be able to apply this knowledge to modelling real phenomena and situations.
The practical element of the course sees you working in one of our PC labs learning how to best utilise spreadsheets and symbolic computations, and how to present data.
This module provides students with a modern perspective on the Universe, including its size and structure. Students will investigate electromagnetic radiation and will gain an understanding of telescopes and their limitations. The module will also present basic ideas of orbits, Kepler's Laws and common astronomical phenomena in the Solar System which are orbit related.
Additionally, students will make various observations on the structure of the Sun, and will develop their knowledge of distant objects, including different types of galaxies, interacting galaxies, active galaxies and exotic objects, whilst contrasting historical models of the Universe.
Students will receive an overview of directly measurable physical characteristics of stars, such as luminosity, spectroscopy, stellar atmospheres and composition. The module covers the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and physics of Stellar Stability, and students will learn about energy generation in stars, energy transport in stellar interiors, and star birth.
Students will develop the ability to demonstrate how classical physics is successful in modelling many properties of main sequence stars and in explaining their formation and evolution. Additionally, more complex stellar behaviour that cannot be understood on the basis of classical physics will be introduced. Students will gain the skillset required to perform calculations relating to gravitational collapse, stability, lifetime and energy generation in well-behaved main sequence stars and in nebulae.
The module covers the structure of the Universe from the modern perspective, examining its size and structure, galaxies and galaxy clusters, dark matter and cosmic length and mass scales. Students will learn methods of measuring astronomical and cosmological distances and Hubble’s Law of Expansion.
Students will additionally encounter topics such as cosmic microwave radiation and physical phenomena in the very early universe, known as the Big Bang, through a mixture of lectures and seminars. Finally, the module will discuss the Universe’s ultimate fate.
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.
Designed to provide students with a working knowledge of the basic mathematical techniques that are required when studying physics at degree level and beyond, this module’s range of topics include a look at linear algebra, where students will discover coupled linear equations, linear transformations and normal modes of coupled oscillators. A section on Hilbert space will address wave equation, bases of functions and Kronekker delta-symbol, and angular harmonics will be covered in detail.
Over the duration of the module, students will become familiar with Pauli matrices, eigenvalues, eigenvectors and commutation relations, and will develop a range of skills and techniques required for solving various common types of linear equations. Additionally, a workshop led by postgraduate teaching assistants will be held every two weeks to provide extra one-to-one tuition and support with coursework assignments as required.
This module introduces the Fourier series and transforms, and addresses their application to examples in physics. Students will learn how to express a periodic function as a Fourier series, and find the Fourier transform of a function.
Additionally, students will solve linear ODEs and PDEs using Fourier techniques, as well as developing the ability to solve problems with initial conditions and/or spatial boundary conditions.
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.
Introducing programming basics, this module engages students with the writing and compiling of computer programs in Python that can be used for numerical simulation and data analysis. This will involve variable types, input and output, and mathematical functions. Students will become familiar with debugging: the identification and classification of programming errors, and will explore method arguments and signatures, in addition to gaining knowledge of one dimensional, multi-dimensional and passing arrays.
Students will gain the necessary knowledge to model simple physical systems using appropriate programming techniques, and will develop an understanding of numerical precision and accuracy. By learning Object Orientated programming, students will use objects and methods to represent physical systems, class design, class testing and documentation in order to independently complete an open-ended project to model a physics-based problem.
This module provides a review of thermodynamic equilibrium, temperature, zeroth law, reversible and irreversible processes, as well as heat, work and internal energy. Students will be introduced to the Boltzmann distribution and apply the Boltzmann distribution to solids, paramagnetism, heat capacity, defects in solids. The module offers students the opportunity to explore crystal structure and symmetry, lattices, symmetry operations and unit cells. Students will investigate the quantum mechanical free electron model and basic band structure ideas in nearly free electron and tight binding pictures as part of the module.
Students will develop an appreciation for the connections between the microscopic and macroscopic pictures of the thermal properties of solids, and will gain the skillset required to account for some fundamental properties of solids in statistical terms. Additionally, students will become familiar with the use of thermodynamic potentials and associated thermodynamic relations, and will gain an awareness of the different kinds of phase transition and how they are classified. Finally, students will gain the necessary knowledge required to understand the evidence for the third law of thermodynamics and how it relates to the unattainability of absolute zero.
Students work as part of a team (typically 4-5 members) and submit a group report. This module enables students to develop first-hand experience of working on an open-ended research project using astrophysics data collected with some of the best telescopes in the world. There is no set syllabus; problems will be set by academic leads and updated so the topics and data are always at the forefront of Astrophysics research and are also closely linked with topics covered in other Astrophysics modules.
Providing an expansion to topics covered in Astrophysics I, this module teaches students about stellar structure and stability, before moving on to thermonuclear fusion and stellar collapse. Students will discover degenerate objects, such as white dwarves and neutron stars, and will investigate x-ray and high energy astrophysics.
By the end of the module, students will understand the contributions of modern physics, notably quantum mechanics, nuclear and particle physics and relativity, to current understanding of stars and astrophysical phenomena. Students will also be able to describe recent astrophysical discoveries and review phenomena observed through the latest technological advances. Ultimately, students will gain knowledge in the contributions of modern physics, notably quantum mechanics, nuclear and particle physics and relativity, to our understanding of stars and astrophysical phenomena, and will gain an awareness recent astrophysical discoveries and review phenomena observed through the latest technological advances.
This module will familiarise students with astronomical experimentation and instrumentation. This includes practical use of a telescope, CCD cameras as well as manipulation of images taken with such instrumentation. Computer simulations will develop students’ understanding of key concepts in observational astronomy and students are encouraged to devise and perform any additional measurement or modelling which they think might give further insights into the physics investigated.
The laboratory is structured around a series of experiments which are intended to each last one working day. Students take a selection of these throughout the five weeks of the module. At the end of the module, students are required to write a more in-depth report on just one of the weekly activities, supported not only by the results they obtained but also demonstrate additional reading into the physics and astronomy to which the work relates.
On completion, students will be able to make simple measurements using the telescope, spectroscope and CCD camera, in addition to developing an understanding of basic astronomical phenomena through computer simulations. Students will gain an appreciation for the statistical nature of astrophysical knowledge through analysis of stellar data relating to luminosity and temperature, and will be acquainted with some of the problems involved in satellite-based activities.
This module introduces one-electron atoms and the spin-orbit magnetic interaction, along with identical particles and the Helium atom. Students will investigate the Fermi gas model and the single particle shell model, and will compare predictions of the shell model for nuclear spins, parities and magnetic moments with experimental results. The module explores the nuclear beta decay process and the Fermi and Gamow - Teller selection rules, and students are provided with a description of the beta decay rate and the electron energy spectrum in terms of a nuclear matrix element and a statistical factor.
Students will develop their knowledge in atomic and nuclear physics to an advanced level, and will be able to use the results of basic quantum mechanics to explain the basic characteristics of atomic and nuclear structure, in addition to gaining the ability to describe the processes of atomic transitions and nuclear decays. The module will provide an explanation of the concept and importance of the parity of an atomic or nuclear state, and will provide students with the opportunity to study the nuclear beta decay process and in particular the neutrino and parity non-conservation.
Students will work as part of a team and will receive guidance on project management, planning and meetings. Students will prepare a group report and will also give an individual talk at the student conference, The PLACE, in addition to developing a research project with formulation, literature searches, data gathering, analysis and presentation.
The module provides an understanding of modern cosmology, including the areas where our understanding is still incomplete. In addition, students will investigate an open-ended Cosmology-based problem and will gain awareness of the tasks associated with a research project in Cosmology.
The module explores the global dynamics of the Universe, the Friedmann equation, energy conservation and acceleration equations. The constituents of the Universe content and their evolution with time are then investigated. Students will examine the early Universe and the radiation era of the Hot Big Bang. The thermal history of the Hot Big Bang cosmology and Cosmic Inflation is studied as part of the module, along with the formation of large-scale structure (galactic clusters and super-clusters) in the Universe.
Students will develop awareness of our current understanding of the observed Universe and the early Universe, and will be able to write down some of the equations that encode this understanding. Students will also follow new developments at the level of journals like Nature and Scientific American.
Students will be examined on material in core physics modules from year one, two and three. There will be a series of workshops in the Lent term, prior to the final examination, for discussion about the types of question set on the examination paper and the revision of problem solving and modelling techniques.
The module examines basic physics principles by applying them in situations that span the specific modules used to teach the course. This module will allow students to demonstrate a broad grasp of physics principles. Ultimately, students will be well practised in the application of physics methodology to a wide range of specific problems.
The module explores symmetries, the Quark model and gives an introduction to QCD. Students will explore leptons, as well as forces and their carrier particles and Feynman diagrams. The module aims to provide a general introduction to theoretical and experimental topics in elementary particle physics, essentially the Standard Model of particle physics.
Students will gain the ability to describe the main features of the Standard Model of particle physics and understand its place in physics as a whole, and will be able to identify major pieces of experimental evidence supporting the key theoretical ideas, including the experimental techniques used, such as accelerators and detectors. In addition, students will understand the role of symmetry and conservation laws in fundamental physics, and will develop the ability to perform calculations of physically observable quantities relevant to the subject, along with solving problems based on the application of the general principles of particle physics.
The module offers an introduction to reciprocal lattice and diffraction of waves, the electronic band structure in metals, and insulators and semiconductors. Students will explore electrons in semiconductors, effective mass and the heat capacity of solids. There will be a Summary of experimental phenomena, tunnelling, Josephson Junctions and an outline of BCS theory.
Students will be introduced to theoretical and experimental topics in solid state physics at an advanced level, and will develop an understanding of the main features of the physics of electrons in solids, along with knowledge of the main features of the optical properties of solids.
Students will gain an enhanced understanding of crystal lattices and phonons, along with the main features of the thermal properties of solids, and will be able to describe major pieces of experimental evidence supporting the key theoretical ideas, including the experimental techniques used.
This module explores the ideas, techniques and results of statistical physics. Students will examine gases and the density of states, along with the statistics of gases, fermions and bosons and the two distributions for gases. Maxwell-Boltzmann gases, velocity distribution and fermi-Dirac gases are investigated as the module provides an uncomplicated and direct approach to the subject, using frequent illustrations from low temperature physics.
Students will provide a unified survey of the statistical physics of gases, including a full treatment of quantum statistics, gaining a fuller insight into the meaning of entropy. Students will gain knowledge in applications of statistics to various types of gas. Ultimately, students will develop the ability to apply expressions and distributions in order to form accurate deductions, for example using the Boltzmann distribution for the probability of finding a system in a particular quantum state. Additionally, students will learn the role of statistical concepts in understanding macroscopic systems, and will be able to describe superfluidity in liquid helium, Bose-Einstein condensation and black body radiation.
Building on the skills developed in the Scientific Programming and Modelling project, this module will introduce students to new elements of Java, and will involve more sophisticated modelling of physical systems, such as calculating the range of a cannon ball, and simulating the motion of the moon around the earth.
Students will develop a more thorough knowledge of the java language, including the use of inheritance, and will be able to write a physics modelling program in java.
The module introduces students to energy demand in the past, present and future, looking at energy use by sector and country. Students will study thermal power stations, nuclear power and take a planetary view of energy sources. From there, the module moves to renewable energy, costing energy and looking at Hydrogen as a fuel for the future. Students will consider energy use in the home and at work, looking at energy efficiency and alternative small-scale energy sources.
By the end of the module, students will gain a broad overview of energy and the issues involved from a physical basis, and will be able to clearly explain the physics of energy and global warming and make an informed contribution to the debate.
The module will cover various topics including CKM matrix and its parameterisations; unitarily constraints and the unitarity triangle and the status of experimental measurements, theory and observations of neutrino oscillations. Students will also study CP violation and current topics of heavy flavour physics, such as c- and b-hadron production and decay analysis, along with top quark physics.
Students will develop a basic knowledge of the phenomenology of flavour mixing in the quark sector, neutrino oscillations and will gain an awareness of the concepts of transformation, invariance and symmetry and their mathematical descriptions. Additionally, students will reinforce their understanding of the basic ideas, concepts and analyses of the experimental data on flavour mixing in weak interactions of hadrons and neutrino oscillations, in addition to gaining knowledge of some current topics on the physics of heavy flavours which are likely directions of the experimental particle physics research in Lancaster.
The module will cover various topics, such as symmetries and transformations; groups, group invariants and generators. As well as this, students will learn about irreducible representations; orthogonal groups O(2) and O(3); unitary groups SU(2) and SU(3) and applications to spin, isospin, colour and flavour of elementary particles.
By the end of the module, students will have a basic knowledge and understanding of the concepts and methods used in group theory. They will be able to apply these concepts and methods to problems in particle physics, cosmology and field theory.
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.
Introducing continuum mechanics, this module focuses on body and contact force, global balance laws, and decomposition of the contact force into shear and pressure components.
Students will explore static fluids, ideal fluids and the Euler equation. The module then examines Newtonian fluids, waves and the two-fluid model of plasmas.
Students will be introduced to fluid dynamics and its applications within physics, and will develop an understanding of the origin, solution and application of Navier-Stokes equations, along with the wider applications of the Navier-Stokes theory to bio-, geo- and astrophysical systems. Students will also solve problems based on the application of the general principles of the physics of fluids.
This module focuses on what constitutes life. It explores the stability and synchronisation in complex and open interacting systems, entropy and information, and DNA as an information storage system. Students will investigate fundamental rate processes, ion channel mechanics and molecular diffusion and Brownian motion. In addition, cellular structure and function, along with membrane potential and action potential are studied, and the module examines the functioning of the cardiovascular system as an information-processing system and the interactions between cardiovascular oscillations and brain waves.
Students will develop an awareness of how physical principles help to understand the function of living systems at various levels of complexity, as well as an appreciation that living systems are structures in time as much as structures in space.
Ultimately, the module will equip students with the ability to explain the basic characteristics of living systems as thermodynamically open systems, in addition to teaching the physical principles of the functioning of a cell, how cells make ensembles (tissues and organs), and how they interact within larger biological systems. Students will then apply their knowledge of physics and mathematics to the understanding of basic principles of living systems – starting from a cell to the cardiovascular system and the brain.
The module consolidates the theoretical concepts of quantum information processing, exploring Dirac notation, density matrices and evolution, and entanglement. Students will also explore qubits, quantum algorithms, circuit design and error connection. In addition, the module will address trapped ions and atoms, Josephson junctions and quantum optics.
By the end of the module, students will be familiar with the fundamental concepts of quantum processing, such as density matrices and the dynamics of quantum systems, and will be able to understand how these can be implemented in realistic devices. Students will learn about experimental implementation based on atom-optical realisations and realisations in the solid state, and will apply these to explore theoretical concepts that have a vast area of application in condensed matter physics and atom-quantum-optics.
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.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2021/22 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2020 were:
Applicants from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from the Channel Islands and the
Isle of Man. You can find more information about this on our
Island Fees page.
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.
Download the latest Physics brochure, featuring all of the information you could need. The includes detailed course information about each of our courses.
Student Emma Dodd explains our courses in Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology. She unravels techniques and her own personal projects and remembers her trip to the observatory at La Palma in the Canary Islands.
The right degree for you
Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IoP), all of our degrees provide you with a comprehensive education and cover all the general and specialist skills valued for further study and employment in the private and public sectors.
3 or 4 years
We offer a choice of 4 year MPhys Hons degrees and 3 year BSc Hons degrees. Providing you meet academic requirements you can easily switch to the MPhys from the BSc. The fourth year in the MPhys degrees contains an extended research project, which is ideal if you are considering studying for a PhD in the future or aiming at a research-based career outside academia.
We also offer a BSc/MSci degree in Theoretical Physics with Mathematics, taught jointly with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. This means that there is extra maths content, and you will also receive extra support from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
The Physics Department reward excellence by providing an academic scholarship of £1,000 for applicants who choose one of our Physics degrees as their firm choice and achieve A*A* in A level Mathematics and Physics, or equivalent grades for those with alternative qualifications.
A place for Pascale
When did you know Physics at Lancaster University was the place for you? When I visited, I felt so at home, it was so welcoming, and everyone was so enthusiastic and friendly, plus the facilities were great, I could see myself living and studying here.
What made the facilities so great? The newly refurbished Physics Department has lots of study spaces, including computer rooms and laboratories. They’re perfect for getting work done between lectures, and the open-door policy means that if you’re stuck on a worksheet, you can find lecturers outside of teaching hours to get help. It’s also in a central position on campus, meaning you never have to walk too far to get to a different lecture theatre throughout the day.
What is your favourite aspect of your course? I’ve most enjoyed the astrophysics modules, as well as the coding, which is something I’ve found out that I’m quite good at that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I like all the study space in the Department; it makes it much easier to sit with your friends and work through coursework.
What are you going to do after your degree? I want to stay in academia and do research. Lancaster is helping me by letting me know about all the internships I can apply for as well as hosting some within the Department and supporting all my applications
Our courses are designed to link strongly to our research - providing an up to date physics education that is engaging and inspiring to our students and contributes to excellent student-staff relations. Recent third year group research projects include:
Working with brand new data taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope in Chile and the Isaac Newton Telescope to discover and study new galaxies, to determine physical properties of stars and star clusters or to unveil the last major transition of the Universe: the epoch of re-ionisation.
Student teams worked with external organisations to investigate re-condensing gas-based anaesthetics to reduce waste, testing high-tech plastic films to improve the shelf-life of food and characterising technical non-woven fabrics for magnetic shielding.
Using the cosmological constant or dark energy to solve the Age of the Universe problem.
Equipped to achieve
You will benefit from our unique and world-leading research facilities. The includes specialised equipment and materials in our Quantum Technology Centre, IsoLab and Ultra-Low Temperature Lab. You will also have access to a wide range of learning resources, from our own computer suites and new teaching laboratories to the 365mm Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescope.
Preparing you for your next step and helping you achieve good employment prospects is important to us. Our graduates find employment in high-technology industries, medical and telecommunication businesses, computer programming, public health and teaching programmes, as well as in consulting, finance and accountancy and further research.
Our degree schemes will develop your transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, numeracy, computational skills, communication skills, and team working, which are all highly valued by both employers and academia.
Our dedicated Employability Champion provides individual support, organises trips to careers fairs and runs the Employability Booster programme. This is designed to help you achieve the career you want and prepare you for your future.
Each year we offer a number of internships for our students, which will give you relevant work experience and the opportunity to apply your academic knowledge in real-world situations.
Industry and placements
You will benefit from our direct links with industry and outside agencies, which contribute to the range of our third and fourth year projects and fund departmental research.
You will have ample opportunities to further enhance your CV, for example, acting as a student ambassador, taking part in outreach activities, or by joining student societies and participating in the University’s Lancaster Award.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2021/22 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication. The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses.
In the event of a course being withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date information before you submit your application. Further legal information.
The amount of time you spend in lectures, seminars and similar will differ from year to year. Taken as an average over all years of the course, you will spend an average of 12.1 hours per week in lectures, seminars and similar during term time.
A broad range of assessments methods will be used throughout the degree. As a guide, 38% of assessment is by coursework over the duration of the course.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.
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