BSc in Physics with Astro-Physics
QUB Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS)
Belfast, United Kingdom
31 Aug 2023
Earliest start date
Physics studies how our Universe works, from the smallest atomic nucleus to the largest galaxy. Our BSc Physics with Astrophysics degree is aimed at students who have an interest in astronomy and wish to understand the physics behind the pretty pictures. Students undertaking this degree will still obtain a thorough grounding in modern physics, but will also take astrophysics modules that allow them to understand the workings of our Universe.
All of our faculty staff are research scientists in their own right; in the 2021 REF peer-review exercise, Physics Research Power was in the top 20 in the UK.
These provide students with the opportunity to develop technical skills and apply theoretical principles to real-life or practical contexts. For example, one of the Levels 1 modules, PHY1003 Computational Modelling in Physics, will introduce students to programming and begin developing those skills in the field of theoretical calculations. Students will be instructed on how to programme in Python and Matlab.
Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Canvas. A range of e-learning experiences is also embedded in the degree programme through the use of, for example, interactive support materials and web-based learning activities.
As physics is an experimentally based subject, all students will undertake experimental physics as part of their degree. Students normally work in assigned pairs in the laboratory, with submitted reports and findings individually assessed. As part of this work, students will become proficient in using Excel for analysing data and Word for laboratory reports. In their final year, students will undertake two extended 1-semester projects, at least one of which will be in astrophysics and supervised by a professional astrophysicist.
These introduce and explain the foundation information about topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. The material in the lectures will follow the syllabus issued at the start of the module and will form the basis of the assessment carried out. As the modules progress and students’ knowledge of physics grows, this information becomes more complex. Lectures, which are normally delivered in large groups to all year-group peers, also provide opportunities to ask questions and seek clarification on key issues as well as gain feedback and advice on assessments.
A minimum of a 2:2 Honours Degree, provided any subject requirements are also met.
Scholarships and Funding
Applicants are advised to explore fully the funding opportunities for studying in the UK, for example, international students may find funding is available from sources within their own countries.
The funding set out in this section includes funding available from the University and from some external sources. Information provided in this section is intended to highlight some sources of funding: it is not a comprehensive list of funding sources.
Applying for funding which is available from the University is part of an integrated, online, postgraduate admissions process. An offer of a place at Queen’s does not constitute an offer of financial support.
For 2023 entry, Faculties and Schools in the University will be setting their own deadlines for postgraduate applications for admissions, studentships and scholarships. Applicants who wish to apply for postgraduate funding available from the University for 2023 entry should refer to the relevant Faculty and School websites for information.
- The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study.
- A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £11,836 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas.
Students cover all subjects in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and may choose from a large range of subject areas in Stage 3.
In their first-year students study a core of experimental, theoretical, and computational Physics, alongside Applied Mathematics (all compulsory modules)
Practical work will be performed in our new state-of-the-art teaching center laboratories. Here students will encounter the physical phenomena learned about in their lectures, as well as computer programming. Tutorials, based on the lecture courses, give experience in problem-solving and verbal and written communication. Within the course, students will receive basic skills training in writing, presentations, and personal/career development.
At Stage 2, students take 6 compulsory modules.
Advanced Laboratory work develops the skills of planning, carrying out, and analyzing experiments and simulations, and provides opportunities for deepening understanding of the wide applicability of physics.
At Stage 3, students take a selection of compulsory and optional modules.
Project work entails a major experimental or computational investigation of a particular physics problem. This is undertaken using state-of-the-art equipment installed in the School’s new Teaching Centre. This includes projects on ultrasound, MRI and X-ray imaging, gamma-ray spectroscopy, lasers, atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopy, nanomaterial fabrication and characterization, and astronomical observations.
Program Tuition Fee
Students are encouraged to apply for summer or extended placements with local companies. Students can take a year's placement as part of the course or take shorter placements in the summer. A specific training module at Stage 2 is compulsory for students taking a placement year. Employers who specifically seek our Physics students for placements include Seagate and General Electric.
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 5 years after graduation, Physics graduates earn 15 per cent more on average than other graduates (IFS 2018) with female graduates the 4th highest earners compared to all other subjects (5th for males).
Physics-related jobs are available in research, development, and general production in many high technology and related industries. These include medicine, biotechnology, electronics, optics, aerospace, computation and nuclear technology. Physics graduates are also sought after for many other jobs, such as business consultancy, finance, business, insurance, taxation and accountancy, where their problem-solving skills and numeracy are highly valued. In Northern Ireland alone in 2015, there were almost 59,000 jobs in physics based industries (Institute of Physics Report 2017).
About half of our students go on to further study after graduation. Some physics graduates take up careers in education, while a number are accepted for a PhD programme in Physics, which can enhance employment prospects or provide a path to a research physicist position. Most of the rest of our graduates move rapidly into full-time employment, most in careers that require a degree.
Employment after the Course
As part of the assessment within our modules, students will have to prepare reports, give presentations and work together within small groups. Students will become experienced in using spreadsheet and ord processing software to analyse and communicate their findings. Additionally, basic computer programming is taught to allow computational modelling of physical phenomena, which can then be applied to many non-scientific areas of commerce and industry. The problem-solving and communication skills that are essential to scientific study are also recognised as important attributes for many other careers.
Typical career destinations of graduates include:
- Industrial Physics
- Medical Physics
- Research scientist
- Computer technology
- Forensic accountant
- Nuclear Physics
- Financial analysis