Physics and Astronomy

Teaching methods and support

Physics and Astronomy undergraduate labs

How will you learn and be supported?

  • Structure of the academic year - two terms (Autumn and Spring) of 11 weeks. In each term you will take four modules.
  • Lectures - the main mode of teaching delivery with typically two or three slots of 50 minutes per week per module. 
  • Workshops - smaller sessions in which you work on your own or in groups, with help available on request from a tutor.
  • Exercise classes - are used to explain and discuss the solutions to weekly problem sheets.
  • Laboratory work – Physics is an experimental subject. Unless you are on one of the theory courses, you will be spending a significant amount of time in the lab, together with members of faculty and tutors, running your own experiments. The laboratory experience evolves significantly with the year of study. The learning goes progressively from teacher-led (in year 1 you have a precise script to follow to achieve your measurements) to student-led (in year 3 of the MPhys courses you get an experiment to run for four weeks, and you lead the way).
  • Projects - You will do an individual project under the close supervision of a faculty. It is a great chance to do real cutting-edge research, in collaborations with the experts of the field.
  • Office hours - 1-to-1 sessions will be arranged where you can discuss particular problems with lecturers.
  • The Mentoring Scheme - Improve your academic knowledge and university life skills with the MPS mentoring scheme, providing all students with support on a range of academic issues.

How will you be assessed?

  • You will get the opportunity to try a variety of assessments during your undergraduate course. These span from problem sets and examinations, to presentations, group work and projects.
  • End-of-term examinations are the main mode of assessment. They are taken during the winter break between the two terms and in the summer after the end of the spring term. If you happen to fail an exam, you will have an opportunity to resit. Some modules are assessed on practical work, presentations or group projects.
  • Short assessments typically take place during the year, to help you check your progress.
  • The final degree result is based on the assessment for the second and later years only. It is necessary to pass the Year 1 modules to enter the second year and so on. 

What teaching facilities are there?

  • Study space, where you can study independently or benefit from the presence of other students to discuss physics as much as you want.
  • State-of-the-art labs, including a computer-controlled 0.4-meter diameter reflecting optical telescope and a computer-controlled 3-meter diameter radio telescope, a muon telescope (detecting cosmic ray particles) that is integrated with an European array of telescopes.
  • A cutting-edge high-performance computing (HPC) cluster, integrated in the world-wide networks of clusters for large-scale data analysis and AI R&D.

What will you achieve?

  • A first-class background in classical, modern and contemporary physics, reinforced by the opportunity of learning in an environment where world-leading research is performed.
  • A unique set of skills (problem modelling and solving, mathematics, computing, data science, experimentation, etc., but also interpersonal and soft skills) that will give you an ideal positioning whatever future career you’d want to choose.
    • during your undergraduate degree you will have several opportunities to present your work, either with an oral presentation, or a poster.
    • in your final year project you develop independent thoughts and ideas, use your newly-acquired scientific, technical and interpersonal skills, and establish yourself firmly as a graduate ready to take on the world.
    • All our students are heavily exposed to python from day 1. By the end of your degree, you will have become a proficient python programmer. You will also get the chance to experience other software packages to find and visualise solutions to physical problems.
  • All our degree courses are accredited by the Institute of Physics, so you will qualify for graduate membership (GradInstP), a first step towards Chartered Physicist status.

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Physics and Astronomy