The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2024)

8

8th for Physics

The Complete University Guide (2025)

Taught jointly with Lancaster’s School of Mathematical Sciences, 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 studied here at Lancaster.

Lancaster University will make reasonable endeavours to place students at an approved overseas partner university that offers appropriate modules which contribute credit to your Lancaster degree. Occasionally places overseas may not be available for all students who want to study abroad or the place at the partner university may be withdrawn if core modules are unavailable. If you are not offered a place to study overseas, you will be able to transfer to the equivalent standard degree scheme and would complete your studies at Lancaster.

Lancaster University cannot accept responsibility for any financial aspects of the year or term abroad.

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.

Theoretical Physics and Theoretical Physics with Mathematics are disciplines that are fundamental to advancements in modern society. Theoretical Physicists are highly numerate with advanced problem-solving skills, programming knowledge, critical thinking abilities and project management experience, all of which are developed and refined over the course of your degree. These skills open a wealth of career options from the very pure, such as expanding knowledge through scientific research, or very practical like exploring the world of data science and software development. Many of our graduates continue their studies to PhD level and embark on a career in academia. A wealth of additional opportunities also exists, such as teaching or careers within the business and finance sectors. Our graduates are well-paid, with the median starting salary of our Physics degrees being £28,000 (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2023).

Here are just some of the roles that our BSc and MPhys Theoretical Physics and Theoretical Physics with Mathematics students have progressed into upon graduating:

Principle Scientist (Radar Protection) – Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory

Project Scientist – DNV

Physics Teacher – Bolton School

Data Scientist – Office for National Statistics (ONS)

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.

Careers and Employability

At Lancaster, we're passionate about ensuring our graduates are prepared for the world beyond university - here are a few ways that we aim to support your future ambitions.

Our alumni stories

Listen to our Mathematical Sciences alumni as they tell us how studying at Lancaster helped to prepare them for their future careers within mathematics.

Entry requirements

Grade Requirements

A Level AAA

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.

Other Qualifications

International Baccalaureate 36 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including 6 in Mathematics HL 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 qualification. 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.

Delivered in partnership with INTO Lancaster University, our one-year tailored foundation pathways are designed to improve your subject knowledge and English language skills to the level required by a range of Lancaster University degrees. Visit the INTO Lancaster University website for more details and a list of eligible degrees you can progress onto.

Contextual admissions

Contextual admissions could help you gain a place at university if you have faced additional challenges during your education which might have impacted your results. Visit our contextual admissions page to find out about how this works and whether you could be eligible.

Course structure

Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and some which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme to complement your main specialism.

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. Not all optional modules are available every year.

Students are provided with an understanding of functions, limits, and series, and knowledge of the basic techniques of differentiation and integration. Examples of functions and their graphs are presented, as are techniques for building new functions from old. Then the notion of a limit is considered along with the main tools of calculus and Taylor Series. Students will also learn how to add, multiply and divide polynomials, and will learn about 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 students will apply the fundamental ideas of Newtonian mechanics to important 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, black holes and dark matter will be explored.

This module will also consider how to extend the principles of basic kinematics and dynamics to rotational situations, giving students an understanding of torque, moment of inertia, centre of mass, angular momentum and equilibrium. The fundamental mechanical principles will then be applied to understand basic properties of materials including elasticity of solids and fluid dynamics.

This module provides a rigorous overview of real numbers, sequences and continuity. Covering bounds, monotonicity, subsequences, invertibility, and the intermediate value theorem, among other topics, students will become familiar with definitions, theorems and proofs.

Examining a range of examples, students will become accustomed to mathematical writing and will develop an understanding of mathematical notation. Through this module, students will also gain an appreciation of the importance of proof, generalisation and abstraction in the logical development of formal theories, and develop an ability to imagine and ‘see’ complicated mathematical objects.

In addition to learning and developing subject specific knowledge, students will enhance their ability to assimilate information from different presentations of material; learn to apply previously acquired knowledge to new situations; and develop their communication skills.

An introduction to the basic ideas and notations involved in describing sets and their functions will be given. This 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, it is said that one is bigger than another if it contains more elements. What about infinite sets? Are some infinite sets bigger than others? Students will develop the tools to answer these questions and other counting problems, such as those involving recurrence relations, e.g. the Fibonacci numbers.

The module will also consider the connections between objects, 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 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 course extends ideas of MATH101 from functions of a single real variable to functions of two real variables. The notions of differentiation and integration are extended from functions defined on a line to functions defined on the plane. Partial derivatives help us to understand surfaces, while repeated integrals enable us to calculate volumes.

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 and temperature, and the direction of the wind. 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. Finally, we investigate various methods for solving differential equations of one variable.

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 eigenvectors and eigenvalues.

The student will learn how to express a linear transformation of the real Euclidean space using a matrix, from which they will be able to determine whether it is singular or not and obtain its characteristic equation and eigenspaces.

The student is introduced to logic and mathematical proofs, with emphasis placed more 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.

The language and structure of mathematical proofs will be explained, highlighting how logic can be used to express mathematical arguments in a concise and rigorous manner. These ideas will then be 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.

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.

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. They 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.

Building on the Convergence and Continuity module, students will explore the familiar topics of integration, and series and differentiation, and develop them further. Taking a different approach, students will learn about the concept of integrability of continuous functions; improper integrals of continuous functions; the definition of differentiability for functions; and the algebra of differentiation.

Applying the skills and knowledge gained from this module, students will tackle questions such as: can you sum up infinitely many numbers and get a finite number? They will also enhance their knowledge and understanding of the fundamental theorem of calculus.

To enable students to achieve a solid understanding of the broad role that statistical thinking plays in addressing scientific problems, the module begins with a brief overview of statistics in science and society. It then moves on to the selection of appropriate probability models to describe systematic and random variations of discrete and continuous real data sets. Students will learn to implement statistical techniques and to draw clear and informative conclusions.

The module will be supported by the statistical software package ‘R’, which forms the basis of weekly lab sessions. Students will develop a strategic understanding of statistics and the use of associated software, which will underpin the skills needed for all subsequent statistical modules of the degree.

In this module students will 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.

The Special Theory of Relativity will be introduced, beginning with Einstein's postulates and moving on to inertial reference frames, the physics of simultaneity, length contraction, time dilation, relativistic energy and momentum, 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.

Core

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This module builds on the binary operations studies in previous modules, such as addition or multiplication of numbers and composition of functions. Here, students will select a small number of properties which these and other examples have in common, and use them to define a group.

They will also consider the elementary properties of groups. By looking at maps between groups which 'preserve structure', a way of formalizing (and extending) the natural concept of what it means for two groups to be 'the same' will be discovered.

Ring theory provides a framework for studying sets with two binary operations: addition and multiplication. This gives students a way to abstractly model various number systems, proving results that can be applied in many different situations, such as number theory and geometry. Familiar examples of rings include the integers, the integers modulation, the rational numbers, matrices and polynomials; several less familiar examples will also be explored.

In this module, students will develop their ability to solve complex mathematical problems using computers. They will learn basic programming techniques, functions and syntax within Python, good programming practice, how to code simple algorithms, as well as how to apply their learning to real-world scenarios. Within this module, students will undertake an individual, open-ended project to model a physics problem of their choice. Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to write and debug functions and programs in Python, understand the benefits and limitations of using computers to solve mathematical problems, and produce a report that incorporates text, mathematics, and Python code.

This module provides students with a working knowledge and understanding of electromagnetism 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. The module addresses the basic properties of wave propagation, diffraction and inference, and laser operation.

Students will develop their skills in vector calculus and will learn to apply Maxwell’s equations in the analysis of common electromagnetic phenomena, including motors and generators, and in the fundamental connection between electricity and magnetism. Students 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.

This module expands students' knowledge of topics such as Newton's laws and the solution of dynamical problems. It introduces the Lagrangian formulation of mechanics and explains its relation to Newton's equations and the least-action principle. The 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 complement the taught material. Students 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 applications to problems in physics and beyond, and exploit the generality of the 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.

Students will be provided with the foundational results and language of linear algebra, which they will be able to build upon in the second half of Year Two, and the more specialised Year Three modules. This module will give students the opportunity to study vector spaces, together with their structure-preserving maps and their relationship to matrices.

They will 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 their study will also involve looking at the concepts of length and angle with regard to vector spaces.

This module covers quantum mechanics in all its generality, from its central postulates and mathematical language to concrete phenomena and applications. Students will learn how the main postulates give precise meaning to the states, observables, dynamics, and measurable properties of quantum systems, and how this translates into general features of the theory, such as its inherent probabilistic nature on the one hand, and precise quantisation of observable properties on the other. This material is introduced and developed by a series of model systems and applications, such as the particle in a box, tunneling through a barrier, the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom, angular momentum and spin, driven systems displaying radiative transitions, and many-body systems exhibiting entanglement and obeying the Pauli exclusion principle. Students will also become familiar with the mathematical language of the theory, including the Dirac notation, differential and matrix operators, commutation relations, and the role of eigenvalue problems. They will also gain practice with solution techniques such as separation of variables, stationary and time-dependent perturbation theory, the Ehrenfest and Heisenberg picture. Through further applications and examples, students will acquire prerequisite knowledge for advanced courses in atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics, particle physics, astrophysics, and quantum information processing.

A thorough look will be taken at the limits of sequences and convergence of series during this module. Students will learn to extend the notion of a limit to functions, leading to the analysis of differentiation, including proper proofs of techniques learned at A-level.

Time will be spent studying the Intermediate Value Theorem and the Mean Value Theorem, and their many applications of widely differing kinds will be explored. The next topic is new: sequences and series of functions (rather than just numbers), which again has many applications and is central to more advanced analysis.

Next, the notion of integration will be put under the microscope. Once it is properly defined (via limits) students will learn how to get from this definition to the familiar technique of evaluating integrals by reverse differentiation. They will also explore some applications of integration that are quite different from the ones in A-level, such as estimations of discrete sums of series.

Further possible topics include Stirling's Formula, infinite products and Fourier series.

Students will receive an introductory concepts-based approach to the physics of special relativity, nuclei and fundamental particles. The module covers the general properties of nuclei, such as composition, the forces within the nucleus, mass, binding energy and nuclear decay. Students are then introduced to the standard model of particle physics, including the three generations of fundamental particles and their interactions.

Students will gain an understanding of the basis of Einstein’s theory of special relativity in electro-magnetism, both conceptually and mathematically, and 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

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Students on our Study Abroad scheme spend their third year studying at one of our partner universities. We ensure you are matched to a suitable institution so you can make the most out of this exciting opportunity. During the year abroad you will study all the compulsory topics that you must cover in the third year of your degree, but you will also have the benefit of choosing topics we are unable to offer here at Lancaster. Your personal tutor will help you develop your study programme, and they will keep in touch with you whilst you are studying abroad.

Optional

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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.

This module is an introduction to elliptic curves, and hence students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of algebraic geometry. It also presents applications and results of the theory of elliptic curves and provides a useful link between concepts from algebra and geometry.

Students will look at how curves can be described by algebraic equations, and will develop an understanding of abstract groups, learning how to use them to deal with geometrical objects (curves). They will also investigate the way that algebra and geometry are linked via polynomial equations, performing algebraic computations with elliptic curves.

Galois Theory is, in essence, the systematic study of properties of roots of polynomials. Starting with such a polynomial f over a field k (e.g. the rational numbers), one associates a ‘smallest possible’ field L containing k and the roots of f; and a finite group G which describes certain ‘allowed’ permutations of the roots of f. The Fundamental Theorem of Galois Theory says that under the right conditions, the fields which lie between k and L are in 1-to-1 correspondence with the subgroups of G.

In this module students will see two applications of the Fundamental Theorem. The first is the proof that in general a polynomial of degree 5 or higher cannot be solved via a formula in the way that quadratic polynomials can; the second is the fact that an angle cannot be trisected using only a ruler and compasses. These two applications are among the most celebrated results in the history of mathematics.

The module covers various topics including Lagrangians and gauge transformations, global and local gauge invariance, gauge group and its representations and QED as a gauge theory. Students will explore QCD and non-abelian theories, asymptotic freedom and renormalisation group equation. The module discusses spontaneous symmetry breaking and Higgs mechanism, gauge structure of the electroweak theory, grand unified theories and extensions of the Standard Model.

By the end of the module, students will understand the modern phenomenology of the Standard Model of fundamental particles and will gain the mathematical background and physical insight into the field-theoretical structure of the Standard Model. Students will have an increased awareness of modern developments in Quantum Field Theory.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about Hilbert space, consolidating their understanding of linear algebra and enabling them to study applications of Hilbert space such as quantum mechanics and stochastic processes.

The module will teach students 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.

Students will construct Lebesgue measure on the line, extending the idea of the length of an interval. They will use this to define an integral which is shown to have good properties under pointwise convergence. By looking at some basic results about the set of real numbers, properties of countable sets, open sets and algebraic numbers will be explored.

The opportunity will be given to illustrate the power of the convergence theorems in applications to some classical limit problems and analysis of Fourier integrals, which are fundamental to probability theory and differential equations.

The theory of Lie groups and Lie algebras will be introduced during this module. The relationship between the two will be explored, and students will develop an understanding of the way that this forms an important and enduring part of modern mathematics and a great number of fields including theoretical physics. They will learn to appreciate the subtle and pervasive interplay between algebra and geometry, and to appreciate the unified nature of mathematics.

The abstract nature of the module will give them a taste of modern research in pure mathematics. At the end of the module, students will gain understanding of the structure theory of Lie algebras, manifolds and Lie groups. They will also gain basic knowledge of representations of Lie algebras.

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.

In this module,students will construct Lebesgue measure on the line, extending the idea of the length of an interval. They will use this to define an integral which is shown to have good properties under pointwise convergence. Looking at some basic results about the set of real numbers, students will explore properties of countable sets, open sets and algebraic numbers.T

They will also have the opportunity to illustrate the power of the convergence theorems in applications to some classical limit problems and analysis of Fourier integrals, which are fundamental to probability theory and differential equations.

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 students will review Hilbert spaces, before spending some time studying infinite-dimensional operators, notably the unilateral shift and multiplication operators, as well as basic concepts. They will then consider the criteria for invertibility of self adjoint operators, leading to the spectral theory of such operators.

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.

The aim of this module is to develop an analytical and axiomatic approach to the theory of probabilities.

Students will consider the notion of a probability space, illustrated by simple examples featuring both discrete and continuous sample spaces. They will then use random variables and the expectation to develop a probability calculus, which is applied to achieve laws of large numbers for sums of independent random variables. Finally the characteristic function will be used to study the distributions of sums of independent variables, applying the results to random walks and to statistical physics.

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.

Students can expect to explore the electronic properties of two-dimensional and one-dimensional materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. They will learn how to describe transport in disordered systems including quantum interference effects. The Landauer-Büttiker conductance formula is investigated, focusing on ballistic transport, impurities in quantum wires and the integer quantum Hall effect. The module concludes with an introduction to the concepts of geometric phase and topological insulators. By the end of the module, students will know how to describe electronic transport in low-dimensional quantum materials in various regimes, enhancing their awareness of recent advancements in cutting edge research in condensed matter physics.

In this module students will learn the basics of ordinary representation theory. Students will 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. They will also develop their skills in performing computations with representations and morphisms in a selection of finite groups.

The first part of the module is an introduction to the ordinary representation theory of finite groups. Two approaches are presented: representations as group homomorphisms into matrix groups, and as modules over group algebras. The correspondence between both is discussed and special examples and constructions are studied.

The second part of the module concerns the ordinary character theory of finite groups, intrinsic to representation theory. The main objectives are to prove the orthogonality relations of characters and construct the character table of a finite group.

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 R^2.

Fees and funding

We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2025/26
entry fees have not yet been set.

There are a number of optional one-day visits to places of interest and students pay travel costs.

There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.

Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.

College fees

Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities. Students on some distance-learning courses are not liable to pay a college fee.

For students starting in 2024, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2025 have not yet been set.

Computer equipment and internet access

To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.

The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.

Study abroad courses

In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.

Placement and industry year courses

In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.

The fee that you pay will depend on whether you are considered to be a home or international student. Read more about how we assign your fee status.

Home fees are subject to annual review, and may be liable to rise each year in line with UK government policy. International fees (including EU) are reviewed annually and are not fixed for the duration of your studies. Read more about fees in subsequent years.

We will charge tuition fees to Home undergraduate students on full-year study abroad/work placements in line with the maximum amounts permitted by the Department for Education. The current maximum levels are:

Students studying abroad for a year: 15% of the standard tuition fee

Students taking a work placement for a year: 20% of the standard tuition fee

International students on full-year study abroad/work placements will be charged the same percentages as the standard International fee.

Please note that the maximum levels chargeable in future years may be subject to changes in Government policy.

Scholarships and bursaries

Details of our scholarships and bursaries for students starting in 2025 are not yet available. You can use our scholarships for 2024-entry applicants as guidance.

Physics Scholarships 2024

The Physics Department rewards excellence by providing an academic scholarship of £1,000 for students on our MPhys/MSci Physics courses, and a scholarship of £750 for those on a BSc Physics course. This is open to applicants who place us as their firm choice and achieve A*A* in A level Mathematics and Physics with a strong third A level (or equivalent grades) as well as strong performance in their first-term exams at Lancaster.

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 Particle Lab is a state-of-the-art laboratory that is fully equipped for you to get hands-on practical work in nuclear and particle physics. The lab is kitted out with a range of different particle detectors, using the same technologies that form the basis of modern research in experimental particle physics.

Super Lab

The Super Lab is where we teach some of our core physics lab modules. The lab is fully equipped for performing experiments covering a range of topics including waves, optics, magnetism, radiation, spectroscopy, thermodynamics and electronic circuits.

Astro Lab

The Astrophysics Laboratory provides you with an opportunity to obtain hands-on experience with the data and techniques used by researchers in astrophysics and solar and planetary physics.On the roof just outside of the Astro Lab is an observatory known as "The Dome", which is home to a pier-mounted Celestron CGE1400 XLT 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Ultra-Low Temperature Lab

Our Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) Lab is home to some of the coldest temperatures on the planet! Here, you can study the behaviour of superfluids (such as liquid helium) and apply them to physical phenomena ranging from particle physics to cosmology.

Iso Labs

Our Department is also home to a number of Iso Lab pods, each designed for studying quantum systems in controlled conditions where noise, vibration, and electromagnetic disturbances have been minimised to create "ultra-clean" environments for sensitive experiments

Communal Spaces

Our Physics Department has an array of communal spaces available for you to collaborate and socialise together in. We even have a board games cupboard available for you to use in your down time!

Tour our facilities

Take a look at what we have to offer with our video tour of our Physics Department.

The information on this site relates primarily to 2025/2026 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 exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.

More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.

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.

Undergraduate open days 2024

Our summer and autumn open days will give you Lancaster University in a day. Visit campus and put yourself in the picture.

Our historic city is student-friendly and home to a diverse and welcoming community. Beyond the city you'll find a stunning coastline and the picturesque Lake District.