< Theoretical Physics : BSc Hons (Full Time)

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Theoretical Physics

BSc Hons (Full Time)

UCAS Code:F340
Minimum Length:3 Year(s)
Credit Points:360
Part II Weight:8
Part II Year 2 Weight:4
Part II Year 3 Weight:4
Part II Year 4 Weight:0
Director of Studies:Professor HU Schomerus

Compulsory Modules

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PartII (Year 2)

PartII (Year 3)

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

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Educational Aims


The primary aim of the BSc degree in Physics with Theoretical Physics at Lancaster University is to provide a broad but rigorous course of teaching and learning for the graduate intending to make their career in a physics-based or related field.


In addition, the student will acquire knowledge and skills preparing them for possible entry into theoretical physics research.


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


The degree is intended to provide students with:

  an appropriate knowledge of physical phenomena

  an understanding of physical principles

  an appreciation of modern science

  competence in a wide range of analytical 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

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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 BSc 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 Theoretical Physics;

The four basic themes of physics, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics and quantum physics are developed progressively through the 3 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 BSc 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 physics based investigation.

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 more detailed aspects of Theoretical Physics. In year 3 students undertake either open-ended mini-projects or an open-ended full project related to Theoretical Physics. In addition to Theoretical Physics 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 also an 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.

Transferable skills

On successful completion of the BSc 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.

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.
Lancaster University
LancasterLA1 4YW United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1524 65201