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MPhys Hons Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Mode of Study: Full Time Department: Physics
UCAS Code: F3F5 Duration/Length: 4 Year(s)
QAA Subject Management: Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics Director of Studies: Not known
Total Credit Points: 480 Credit Points Year 2: 120
Credit Points Year 3: 120 Credit Points Year 4: 120

Syllabus Rules and Pre-requisites

  • PartI
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • PartII (Year 2)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • PartII (Year 3)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 1 modules from the following group:
  • PartII (Year 4)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 4 modules from the following group:

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Educational Aims

    The primary aim of the MPhys degree in Physics at Lancaster University is to provide a broad but rigorous course of teaching and learning for the graduate intending to make his/her career in a physics-based or related field. In addition, the student will acquire knowledge and skills preparing them for possible entry into physics research.


    The programme leads to professional qualifications and accreditation by the Institute of Physics.


    All physics degrees are intended to provide students with

    • An appropriate knowledge of physical phenomena and an understanding of physical principles
    • An appreciation of current developments and applications
    • Competence in a wide range of discipline-based and transferable skills.


    The University is committed to providing a supportive learning environment within which students have the opportunity to reach their full academic potential.


Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Knowledge and understanding

    The overall framework of the degree scheme, the individual course structures, and the academic aims and learning outcomes of taught modules, can be found at the Lancaster University Physics Department web page:

    On successful completion of the MPhys scheme, undergraduates should have:

    • obtained a knowledge and understanding of fundamental areas of physics, in line with accreditation requirements of the Institute of Physics;
    • obtained a more detailed knowledge of selected areas, particularly in Astrophysics and Cosmology;
    • become aware of recent advances in some topics relating to Departmental research activity.

    The four basic themes of physics, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and quantum physics are developed progressively through the 4 years of the degree scheme. The relevant mathematics is taught as required, usually in separate modules. Related physics topics and applications are developed in parallel. Such topics include waves and optics, statistical physics, physics of fluids, particle physics, atomic and nuclear physics, and relativity. In more specialist/advanced topics, particular emphasis is placed on areas of strong research activity within the Department such as, low temperature physics, solid-state nanostructures, opto-electronics, particle physics and cosmology.

    Discipline-based skills

    On successful completion of the MPhys scheme, undergraduates should have:

    • acquired discipline-based skills, experimental, mathematical, and computational, as appropriate to the theme chosen;
    • acquired experience in planning, carrying out and reporting a self-organised investigation, in preparation for future physics-based research.

    Acquisition of skills relating to experimental measurement is an important outcome of the Physics degree scheme. In the first year, students undertake a wide range of structured laboratory exercises which reinforce basic concepts as presented in lectures. In addition, with the assistance of demonstrators, students learn basic practical techniques, familiarity with the use of appropriate equipment, and an appreciation of experimental uncertainty and statistical analysis. In the 2nd year, students are taught computer programming and take a series of lectures teaching the basics of Astrophysics and Cosmology. In years 3 and 4 students undertake open-ended mini-projects and projects related to the Astrophysics and Cosmology theme. In addition to Astrophysics and Cosmology skills, project work develops self-organisation and analytic thinking, whilst preparing reports enhances skills relating to literature analysis and the ordering and structuring of ideas.

    Mathematical skills are an equally important outcome of the degree, acquired through specific mathematics modules together with the weekly application of mathematics skills to physics problems. General physics based problem solving skills are further developed in the 3rd year by a series of seminars which prepare students for the General Physics paper. This is a 3 hour paper giving a wide range of general physics problems designed to test understanding and application of physical ideas and concepts.

    To prepare graduates for possible entry into physics research, the 4th year of the MPhys is more oriented towards research activities. Each student carries out a major research project, related to Astrophysics and Cosmology, which forms the basis for half of the final year assessment. Students are given the opportunity to work collaboratively in small groups or independently. Project work is usually supervised by a member of staff who is a specialist in the chosen field In addition, 4th year students take a series of lecture modules linked to research activities of the Department and are taught research presentation skills.

    Transferable skills

    On successful completion of the MPhys scheme, undergraduates should have developed transferable skills of reasoning and analysis, I.T. and computational skills, independent learning skills, presentation skills, and written and oral communication skills.

    The skills of reasoning and analysis, although eminently transferable, are intrinsic to a physics degree and are reinforced within every module. Similarly computation underpins modern physics. Students progress from exercises in basic computer fluency, such as word processing, spread sheets and internet use in the first year to computer programming in the second year. We teach report writing skills in the first year and develop these through subsequent years. Laboratory modules include formal reports and a significant weighting is given to reports in project work.

    Oral presentation skills are taught in the first year, and students are required to make an oral presentation as part of the assessment process for projects and dissertations. Career seeking and communication skills are developed in the 3rd year by a dedicated module taught partly by the University Careers Service.

    In the 4th year, students are taught appropriate skills for oral and Poster presentations of scientific research. From the major project, students acquire experience in planning, carrying out and reporting a self-organised investigation.

    Independent learning skills are developed through out the degree via personal study of textbooks and other literature and by developing problem solving skills.

    Reference points for learning outcomes:

    • Annual teaching review of the Physics Department
    • External examiners' reports and colleagues' own experience as external examiners
    • Student questionnaires on every module
    • Staff research and expertise.
    • Peer review of teaching modules
    • Accreditation requirements of the Institute of Physics
    • Physics and astronomy benchmarking statement (QAA 2002)
    • Lancaster University's Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy (May, 2000)
    • Staff participation in development activities
    • Employers' panel.

Contact Information

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