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Physics with Astrophysics BSc (UCAS F3F5)

General entry requirements

A levels

A*AA to include A in Mathematics (or Further Mathematics) and Physics


IB

38 to include 6 in Higher Level Mathematics ('Analysis and Approaches' only) and Higher Level Physics


BTEC

We welcome applications from students taking a BTEC qualification alongside A level Maths and Physics.

We may consider a BTEC qualification in a relevant Science or Engineering subject alongside A level Maths only on an individual basis.


International qualifications


Language requirements

All applicants have to meet our English Language requirements. If you cannot demonstrate that you meet these, you may be invited to take part in our Pre-sessional English course at Warwick.


Frequently asked questions

Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria.

Differential offers will usually be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer.

All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only).

Find out more about standard offers and conditions for the IFP.

We welcome applications for deferred entry.

We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.

Course overview

Astrophysics has a special flavour. With the arrival of space-based instrumentation and gravitational wave detection, some of the most exciting discoveries in your lifetime are likely to come in astrophysics.

However, we can't conduct experiments on stars or galaxies as they're too far away and too big. Instead, we need to piece together explanations of what we see. This involves understanding the fundamental physics - mechanics, quantum theory, relativity, thermodynamics - and trying to work out what they imply for exoplanets, galaxies, stars, and the Universe as a whole.

The course covers the principles of physics and their application to explain astrophysical phenomena. In your first year, you will study the classification of astrophysical objects and how we observe them. During the second year, you will study the solar system and stars in some detail. In the third and fourth years, you can study a range of topics including cosmology, exoplanets, the physics of compact objects (black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs), general relativity, and our Sun.

You will be mentored by, and work on projects with, astrophysicists.


Core modules

In the first two years, you cover the fundamentals that apply throughout physics, such as mechanics and quantum theory, and meet the major phenomena observed in stars and space. There are also practical classes to develop laboratory and observational skills.

In later years you look more closely at the phenomena that we can observe as well as those we would like to observe. Examples include star and galaxy formation, cosmology (how the universe was formed and where it may be going), the structure of our sun, and the formation of planets and other solar systems.

In the final year, you complete a year-long research project, which can be observational, theoretical, or some combination of these.


Important information

We are making some exciting changes to our Physics with Astrophysics (BSc) degree for 2022 entry. Our core and optional modules are currently undergoing approval through the University's rigorous academic processes. As changes are confirmed, we will update the course information on this webpage. It is therefore very important that you check this webpage for the latest information before you apply and prior to accepting an offer.


Year One

Mathematics for Physicists

All scientists use mathematics to state the basic laws and to analyse quantitatively and rigorously their consequences. The module introduces you to concepts and techniques which will be assumed by future modules. These include: complex numbers, functions of a continuous real variable, integration, functions of more than one variable and multiple integration. You will revise relevant parts of the A-level syllabus, to cover the mathematical knowledge to undertake first year physics modules, and to prepare you for mathematics and physics modules in subsequent years.

Classical Mechanics and Relativity

You will study Newtonian mechanics emphasizing the conservation laws inherent in the theory. These have a wider domain of applicability than classical mechanics (for example they also apply in quantum mechanics). You will also look at the classical mechanics of oscillations and of rotating bodies. It then explains why the failure to find the ether was such an important experimental result and how Einstein constructed his theory of special relativity. You will cover some of the consequences of the theory for classical mechanics and some of the predictions it makes, including: the relation between mass and energy, length-contraction, time-dilation and the twin paradox.

Physics Foundations

You will look at dimensional analysis, matter and waves. Often the qualitative features of systems can be understood (at least partially) by thinking about which quantities in a problem are allowed to depend on each other on dimensional grounds. Thermodynamics is the study of heat transfers and how they can lead to useful work. Even though the results are universal, the simplest way to introduce this topic to you is via the ideal gas, whose properties are discussed and derived in some detail. You will also cover waves. Waves are time-dependent variations about some time-independent (often equilibrium) state. You will revise the relation between the wavelength, frequency and velocity and the definition of the amplitude and phase of a wave.

Astrophysics Laboratory I

The Laboratory introduces experimental science. There are experiments in physics and astronomy. The experiments can help give a different and more 'tangible' perspective on material treated theoretically in lectures and teach the skills required for successful laboratory work. These include how to work with apparatus, how to keep a laboratory notebook, how to handle data and quantify errors and how to write scientific reports. The experiments provide experience in using a range of equipment. The module also asks you to think critically and solve problems.

Electricity and Magnetism

You will largely be concerned with the great developments in electricity and magnetism, which took place during the nineteenth century. The origins and properties of electric and magnetic fields in free space, and in materials, are tested in some detail and all the basic levels up to, but not including, Maxwell's equations are considered. In addition, the module deals with both dc and ac circuit theory including the use of complex impedance. You will be introduced to the properties of electrostatic and magnetic fields, and their interaction with dielectrics, conductors and magnetic materials.

Electronics Workshop

Electronic instrumentation is widely used in virtually all areas of experimental physics. Whilst it is not essential for all experimental physicists to know, for example, how to make a low noise amplifier, it is extremely useful for them to have some knowledge of electronics. This workshop introduce some of the basic electronics which are used regularly by physicists.

Physics Programming Workshop

You will be introduced to the Python programming language in this module. It is quick to learn and encourages good programming style. Python is an interpreted language, which makes it flexible and easy to share. It allows easy interfacing with modules, which have been compiled from C or Fortran sources. It is widely used throughout physics and there are many downloadable free-to-user codes available. You will also look at the visualisation of data. You will be introduced to scientific programming with the help of the Python programming language, a language widely used by physicists.

Introduction to Astronomy

The Universe contains a bewildering variety of objects - black holes, red giants, white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, gamma-ray bursts and globular clusters. You will study how, with the application of physics, we have come to know their distances, sizes, masses and natures. The module starts with the Sun and planets and moves on to the Universe as a whole.

Quantum Phenomena

This module begins by showing you how classical physics is unable to explain some of the properties of light, electrons and atoms. (Theories in physics, which make no reference to quantum theory, are usually called classical theories.) You will then deal with some of the key contributions to the development of quantum physics including those of: Planck, who first suggested that the energy in a light wave comes in discrete units or 'quanta'; Einstein, whose theory of the photoelectric effect implied a 'duality' between particles and waves; Bohr, who suggested a theory of the atom that assumed that not only energy, but also angular momentum, was quantised; and Schrödinger who wrote down the first wave-equations to describe matter.

Key Skills for Physics

This module develops problem solving skills and promotes the skill of self-learning. Problem solving forms a vital part of the learning process, particularly in Physics. This module addresses problems from the core lecture modules and gives support in developing the important habits of continuous self-assessment required for self-study.

Year Two

Electromagnetic Theory and Optics

You will develop the ideas of first year electricity and magnetism into Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. Maxwell's equations pulled the various laws of electricity and magnetism (Faraday's law, Ampere's law, Lenz's law, Gauss's law) into one unified and elegant theory. The module shows you that Maxwell's equations in free space have time-dependent solutions, which turn out to be the familiar electromagnetic waves (light, radio waves, X-rays, etc.), and studies their behaviour at material boundaries (Fresnel Equations). You will also cover the basics of optical instruments and light sources.

Mathematical Methods for Physicists

You will review the techniques of ordinary and partial differentiation and ordinary and multiple integration. You will develop your understanding of vector calculus and discuss the partial differential equations of physics. (Term 1) The theory of Fourier transforms and the Dirac delta function are also covered. Fourier transforms are used to represent functions on the whole real line using linear combinations of sines and cosines. Fourier transforms are a powerful tool in physics and applied mathematics. The examples used to illustrate the module are drawn mainly from interference and diffraction phenomena in optics. (Term 2)

Quantum Mechanics and its Applications

In the first part of this module you will use ideas, introduced in the first year module, to explore atomic structure. You will discuss the time-independent and the time-dependent Schrödinger equations for spherically symmetric and harmonic potentials, angular momentum and hydrogenic atoms. The second half of the module looks at many-particle systems and aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics. It introduces the quantum mechanics of free fermions and discusses how it accounts for the conductivity and heat capacity of metals and the state of electrons in white dwarf stars.

Thermal Physics II

Any macroscopic object we meet contains a large number of particles, each of which moves according to the laws of mechanics (which can be classical or quantum). Yet, we can often ignore the details of this microscopic motion and use a few average quantities such as temperature and pressure to describe and predict the behaviour of the object. Why we can do this, when we can do this and how to do it are the subject of this module. The most important idea in the field is due to Boltzmann, who identified the connection between entropy and disorder. The module shows you how the structure of equilibrium thermodynamics follows from Boltzmann's definition of the entropy and shows you how, in principle, any observable equilibrium quantity can be computed.

Astrophysics Laboratory II and Skills

This module develops experimental skills in a range of areas of physics and astrophysics. The module introduces the concepts involved in controlling remote instruments using computers and the collection and analysis of astrophysical data. The module explores information retrieval and evaluation, and the oral and written presentation of scientific material.

Stars

People have been studying stars for as long as anything else in science. Yet, the subject is advancing faster now than almost every other branch of physics. With the arrival of space-based instruments, the prospects are that the field will continue to advance and that some of the most exciting discoveries reported in physics during our lifetimes will be in astrophysics. In this module, you will study the physics of stars and learn how we explain their behaviour. The module covers the main classifications of stars by size, age and distance from the earth and the relationships between them.

The Solar System

The study of the Solar System has been one of the most important in the history of physics with ramifications beyond science - Galileo was convicted of heresy for arguing that the earth moved round the Sun. Newton developed his theory of gravitation to explain Kepler's observations of the Solar System planets and effectively established what we now call the scientific method. In this module, we will introduce some of the intriguing phenomena observed in our Solar System. Questions we will touch on include: How does the Sun work? How do planets move and form? Do they have atmospheres? While the answers to some of these questions are complicated and still not completely known, we will construct convincing, qualitatively correct and appealing explanations of many of these phenomena using physics studied in the first year.

Year Three

Astrophysics Project

The project will provide you with experience of working on an extended project in astrophysics in a research environment. You will normally work in pairs. Through discussions with your supervisor, you will establish a plan of work which you will frequently review as you progress. In general, the project will not be closely prescribed and will contain an investigative element.

Quantum Physics of Atoms

The basic principles of quantum mechanics are applied to a range of problems in atomic physics. The intrinsic property of spin is introduced and its relation to the indistinguishability of identical particles in quantum mechanics discussed. Perturbation theory and variational methods are described and applied to several problems. The hydrogen and helium atoms are analysed and the ideas that come out from this work are used to obtain a good qualitative understanding of the periodic table. In this module, you will develop the ideas of quantum theory and apply these to atomic physics.

Cosmology

Questions about the origin of the Universe, where it is going and how it may get there are the domain of cosmology. In this module, we will ask whether the Universe will continue to expand or ultimately contract. Relevant experimental data include those on the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, the distribution of galaxies and the distribution of mass in the Universe. Starting from fundamental observations, such as that the night sky is dark and, by appealing to principles from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, you will develop a description of the Universe and the Big Bang Model.

Black Holes, White Dwarfs and Neutron Stars

In this module, you study the compact objects - white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes (BH) - that can form when burnt out stars collapse under their own gravity. The extreme conditions in their neighbourhood mean that they affect strongly other objects and even the structure of the space-time around them. Compact objects can accrete material from surrounding gases and nearby stars. In the case of BHs this can lead to the supermassive BHs thought to be at the centre of most galaxies. In the most extreme events (mergers of these objects), the gravitational waves (GW) that are emitted are now beginning to be detected on earth (the first GW detection was reported in 2015 almost exactly 100 years after their prediction by Einstein).

Communicating Science

Employers look for many things in would-be employees. Sometimes they will be looking for specific knowledge, but often they will be more interested in general skills, frequently referred to as transferable skills. One such transferable skill is the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Over the past two years you may have had experience in writing for an academic audience in the form of your laboratory reports. The aim of this module is to introduce you to the different approaches required to write for other audiences. This module will provide you with experience in presenting technical material in different formats to a variety of audiences.


Optional modules

Optional modules can vary from year to year. Example optional modules may include:

  • Computational Physics
  • Environmental Physics
  • Hamiltonian Mechanics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Physics in Medicine
  • Physics of Fluids
  • Planets, Exoplanets and Life
  • Solar Magnetohydrodynamics

Assessment

In any year, about 30% of the overall mark is assigned to coursework.

The weighting for each year's contribution to your final mark is 10:30:60 for the BSc course and 10:20:30:40 for the MPhys course.

Teaching

  • Lectures
  • Laboratory classes
  • Time on telescopes
  • Skills classes

Class sizes

Lecture size will naturally vary from module to module. The first year core modules may have up to 350 students in a session, whilst the more specialist modules in the later years will have fewer than 100.

The core modules in the first year are supported by weekly classes, at which you and your fellow students meet in small groups with a member of the research staff or a postgraduate student.

Tutorials with your personal tutor are normally with a group of 5 students.


Typical contact hours

You should expect to attend around 12 lectures a week and spend 7 hours on supervised practical (mainly laboratory and computing) work.

For each 1 hour lecture, you should expect to put in a further 1-2 hours of private study.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees cover the majority of the costs of your study, including teaching and assessment. Fees are charged at the start of each academic year. If you pay your fees directly to the University, you can choose to pay in instalments.

Undergraduate fees

If you are a home student enrolling in 2021, your annual tuition fees will be £9,250. In the future, these fees might change for new and continuing students.


2+2 course fees

If you are a home student enrolling in 2021 for a 2+2 course through the Centre for Lifelong Learning, your annual tuition fees will be £6,750. In the future, these fees might change for new and continuing students.


How are fees set?

The British Government sets tuition fee rates.

Learn more about fees from UCAS.

Undergraduate fees

If you are an EU student enrolling in 2021, the tuition fee will be charged in line with government policy and therefore the same as Overseas Tuition Fee rates.

For details please see Overseas students section below.

Undergraduate fees

If you are an overseas or EU student enrolling in 2021, your annual tuition fees will be as follows:

  • Band 1 – £21,220 per year (classroom-based courses, including Humanities and most Social Science courses)
  • Band 2 – £27,060 per year (laboratory-based courses, plus Theatre and Performance Studies, Economics, and courses provided by Warwick Business School, with exceptions)

Fees for 2022 entry have not been set. We will publish updated information here as soon as it becomes available, so please check back for updates about 2022 fee rates before you apply.


Fee status guidance

We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Students from 2021 entry will be classified as Home or EU/Overseas fee status. Your fee status determines tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available. If you receive an offer, your fee status will be clearly stated alongside the tuition fee information.

Do you need your fee classification to be reviewed?

If you believe that your fee status has been classified incorrectly, you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire. Please follow the instructions in your offer information and provide the documents needed to reassess your status.

Find out more about how universities assess fee status.


Additional course costs

There may be extra costs related to your course for things such as stationery, books, materials and field trips.


Further information

Find out more about tuition fees from our Student Finance team.


Scholarships and bursaries

Learn about scholarships and bursaries available to undergraduate students.

We offer a number of undergraduate scholarships and bursaries to full-time undergraduate students. These include sporting and musical bursaries, and scholarships offered by commercial organisations.

Find out more about funding opportunities for full-time students.

If you are an international student, a limited number of scholarships may be available.

Find out more information on our international scholarship pages.


You may be eligible for financial help from your own government, from the British Council or from other funding agencies. You can usually request information on scholarships from the Ministry of Education in your home country, or from the local British Council office.


Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2021

We believe there should be no barrier to talent. That's why we are committed to offering a scholarship that makes it easier for gifted, ambitious international learners to pursue their academic interests at one of the UK's most prestigious universities. This new scheme will offer international fee-paying students 250 tuition fee discounts ranging from full fees to awards of £13,000 to £2,000 for the full duration of your Undergraduate degree course.

Find out more about the Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2021.

We provide extra financial support for qualifying students from lower income families. The Warwick Undergraduate Bursary is an annual award of up to £3,000 per annum. It is intended to help with course-related costs and you do not have to pay it back.

Find out more about your eligibility for the Warwick Undergraduate Bursary.

As part of the 'City of Sanctuary' movement, we are committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for those seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. We provide a range of scholarships to enable people seeking sanctuary or asylum to progress to access university education.

Find out more about the Warwick Undergraduate Sanctuary Scholarships for asylum seekers.

Further information

Find out more about Warwick undergraduate bursaries and scholarships.

Eligibility for student loans

Your eligibility for student finance will depend on certain criteria, such as your nationality and residency status, your course, and previous study at higher education level.

Check if you're eligible for student finance.

Tuition Fee Loan

You can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your tuition fees. It is non-means tested, which means the amount you can receive is not based on your household income. The Loan is paid directly to the University so, if you choose to take the full Tuition Fee Loan, you won’t have to set up any payments.

Maintenance Loan for living costs

You can apply for a Maintenance Loan towards your living costs such as accommodation, food and bills. This loan is means-tested, so the amount you receive is partially based on your household income and whether you choose to live at home or in student accommodation.

Find out more about government student loans for home students residing in England.

Tuition Fee Loan

For the 2020 academic year, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your tuition fees if you’re from an EU country. It is non-means tested, which means the amount you can receive is not based on your household income. The Loan is paid directly to the University so, if you choose to take the full Tuition Fee Loan, you won’t have to set up any payments.

Help with living costs

For the 2020 academic year, you may be eligible for help with your living costs if you’ve lived in the UK for more than 5 years before the first day of the first academic year of your course.

If you are starting a course on or after 1 August 2021, you must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance.

Find out more about government student loans for EU students.

Repaying your loans

You will repay your loan or loans gradually once you are working and earning above a certain amount (from April 2021 the repayment threshold is £27,295 and is expected to rise each year). Repayments will be taken directly from your salary if you are an employee. If your income falls below the earnings threshold, your repayments will stop until your income goes back up above this figure.

Find out more about repaying your student loan.

Your career

Graduates from this course have gone on to work for employers including:

  • Deloitte Digital
  • Brunei Shell Petroleum
  • British Red Cross
  • EDF Energy
  • Civil Service
  • Deutsche Bank

They have pursued roles such as:

  • Physical scientists
  • Finance and investment analysts
  • Programmers and software development professionals
  • Graphic designers
  • Researchers

Helping you find the right career

Our department has a dedicated professionally qualified Senior Careers Consultant. They offer impartial advice and guidance together with workshops and events throughout the year. Previous examples of workshops and events include:

  • Career options with a Physics Degree
  • Careers in Science
  • Warwick careers fairs throughout the year
  • Physics Alumni Evening
  • Careers and Employer networking event for Physics students

Discover more about careers support at Warwick.

Physics at Warwick

Physics is about beautiful ideas and deep questions

Physics aims to observe and explain the behaviour of the physical universe. It looks for laws which apply everywhere and to everything. One of the joys of physics is seeing how a simple principle, established after studying one problem, can go on to explain seemingly unrelated phenomena.

Find out more about us on our website


Our courses

Our three-year courses

Our flexible courses offer excellent teaching informed by our research. You can tailor your course to your interests with optional modules in your later years of study.

Our four-year courses

These courses share the same core as the three-year versions. They then let you dig deeper with specialised modules. You'll undertake a dedicated research project as well.

Life at Warwick

Within a close-knit community of staff and students from all over the world, discover a campus alive with possibilities. A place where all the elements of your student experience come together in one place. Our supportive, energising, welcoming space creates the ideal environment for forging new connections, having fun and finding inspiration.

Keep exploring life at Warwick

Find out how to apply to us, ask your questions, and find out more.

Warwick Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is key to helping you settle in quickly.

We have 12 self-catering undergraduate halls of residence on campus.

Our student property management and lettings agency manages more than 8,000 rooms both on and off campus, and provides advice to all full-time undergraduates.

Explore Warwick Accommodation

Our campus

You won't be short of ways to spend your time on campus - whether it's visiting Warwick Arts Centre, using our incredible new sports facilities, socialising in our bars, nightclub and cafés, or enjoying an open-air event. Or if you need some peace and quiet, you can explore lakes, woodland and green spaces just a few minutes’ walk from central campus.

Explore our campus

Food and drink

We have lots of cafés, restaurants and shops on campus. You can enjoy great quality food and drink, with plenty of choice for all tastes and budgets. There is a convenience store on central campus, as well as two supermarkets and a small shopping centre in the nearby Cannon Park Retail Park. Several of them offer delivery services to help you stay stocked up.

And don't miss our regular food market day on the Piazza with tempting, fresh and delicious street food. Soak up the atmosphere and try something new, with mouth-watering food for all tastes.

Explore food and shops

Explore student union venues

Societies

Clubs and societies

We currently have more than 300 student-run societies.

So whether you’re into films, martial arts, astronomy, gaming or musical theatre, you can instantly connect with people with similar interests.

Or you could try something new, or even form your own society.

Explore our societies

Sport

Sports and fitness

Staying active at Warwick is no sweat, thanks to our amazing new Sports and Wellness Hub, indoor and outdoor tennis centre, 60 acres of sports pitches, and more than 60 sports clubs.

Whether you want to compete, relax or just have fun, you can achieve your fitness goals.

Explore sports at Warwick

Studying on campus

Our campus is designed to cater for all of your learning needs.

You will benefit from a variety of flexible, well-equipped study spaces and teaching facilities across the University.

  • The Oculus, our outstanding learning hub, houses state-of-the-art lecture theatres and innovative social learning and network areas.
  • The University Library provides access to over one million printed works and tens of thousands of electronic journals
  • Three Learning Grids offering you flexible individual and group study spaces.

Explore the Library

Local Life

Travel and local area

Our campus is in Coventry, a modern city with high street shops, restaurants, nightclubs and bars sitting alongside medieval monuments. The Warwickshire towns of Leamington Spa and Kenilworth are also nearby.

The University is close to major road, rail and air links. London is just an hour by direct train from Coventry, with Birmingham a 20-minute trip. Birmingham International Airport is nearby (a 20-minute drive).

See our campus map

Support and Wellbeing

Wellbeing support and faith provision

Our continuous support network is here to help you adjust to student life and to ensure you can easily access advice on many different issues. These may include managing your finances and workload, and settling into shared accommodation. We also have specialist disability and mental health support teams.

Our Chaplaincy is home to Chaplains from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. We provide regular services for all Christian denominations and a Shabbat meal every Friday for our Jewish students. There is also an Islamic prayer hall, halal kitchen and ablution facilities.

Wellbeing and support

Chaplaincy

How to apply

Learn more about our application process.

Key dates

Key dates for your application to Warwick.

Writing your personal statement

Make an impression and demonstrate your passion for your course.

After you've applied

Find out how we process your application.

3 ways to connect

Talk to us

Join us at a live event. You can ask about courses, applying to Warwick, life at Warwick, visas and immigration, and more.

See event calendar


Warwick Experience

Take a virtual, student-led campus tour. Then join an interactive panel session, where you can hear from and chat to our current students and staff.

Book a tour


Student blogs

Explore our student blogs in OurWarwick. You can read about campus life from students themselves, and register to post questions directly to students.

Ask a student

Explore campus with our virtual tour

Our 360 tour lets you:

  • Watch student videos
  • View 360 photography and drone footage
  • Learn about facilities and landmarks

Explore our campus virtually through our 360 campus tour now

Come to an Open Day

Don’t just take it from us, come and see for yourself what Warwick is all about. Whether it's a virtual visit or in-person, our University Open Days give you the chance to meet staff and students, visit academic departments, tour the campus and get a real feel for life at Warwick.

Open Days at Warwick

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