Guide to studying Physics and AstronomyBy Professor Jim Wild, Professor of Space Physics, Physics Department, Lancaster University. Milky way © khlongwangchao - FotoliaWhat is Physics and Astronomy?Physics and Astronomy address the fundamental questions about the universe: How did the universe begin? What is it made of? How does it work? If trying to find out the answers to some of these questions sounds interesting, then this is the subject for you.
Physics and Astronomy degrees develop students’ understanding of the relationship between the physical laws of the universe and how they apply across different scales of space and time.
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In contrast to these grand scales, particle physics, nanotechnology and condensed matter physics focus on the atomic and sub-atomics domains to probe the physics of matter at its constituent level. Although incredibly diverse, there are theoretical and experimental aspects within most of these disciplines.
Some branches of physics, such as nuclear physics and medical physics, are also very closely related to applications in industry and society.
As you might expect from this diversity, there is a dizzying choice of Physics and Astronomy degrees to choose from! In the early years most courses will build upon your understanding in core physics areas such as classical mechanics, electric and magnetic fields, optics, waves, thermodynamics, quantum physics and relativity Use long-exposure photos of circumpolar stars to determine the length of the sidereal day..
Alongside these subjects, the mathematical techniques that underpin the physics are a significant part of all physics and astronomy courses. Typically, the subject-specific aspect of your course, such as astrophysics, cosmology or particle physics, will increase as you proceed through your degree.
Meanwhile, the core content will reduce as you spend more of your time focussing on your chosen subjects.
Guide to studying physics and astronomy - complete university guide
Most Physics and Astronomy degrees, especially the four-year courses, will include a substantial research project in the last year. This gives you the opportunity to work on a current research topic linked to your chosen degree specialisation over many months, closely supervised by a research supervisor who is an expert in that field.
Some universities that offer various 'flavours' of physics degree allow students to switch their course specialism (such as from Physics with Astrophysics to Physics with Particle Physics) or switch between three- and four-year degrees.
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Lots of universities also offer the very popular option to spend a year of your studies abroad, typically the third year of a four-year course. Specific or general skills developedAs well as the knowledge and experience specific to the course, physics students gain valuable general skills such as logical thinking, problem solving, numeracy and computer literacy.
Coursework, assessments and examsWhen studying towards Physics and Astronomy degrees, you are likely to be assessed by a mixture of coursework and exams.
Coursework, controlled assessment and non-exam assessment (nea
Formal examinations test knowledge, understanding and your ability to solve problems. What degree can I get? BSc Hons, MPhys Hons, and MSci (Hons) in courses including:© markrubens - FotoliaAstronomy and PhysicsAstronomy, Space Science and AstrophysicsAstrophysicsPhysics with PhotonicsPhysics with Planetary SciencePhysics with Theoretical Astrophysics**What are the job opportunities?Physics is an exciting subject that is fundamental to the developments in modern society.
Applications of the subject range from the very pure to the very practical, and a physics degree opens up a wide range of rewarding careers in scientific research and technological development, as well as in a variety of other professions.
A substantial number of graduates continue onto postgraduate education, or enter employment that directly relies on their specialist skills A6: Use a shadow stick to record the Sun's direction.B6: Compare the time on a sundial with local mean time..
Students also find employment in careers where they are valued because of general skills gained during the course such as logical thinking, problem solving, numeracy and computer literacy. Examples include consulting, finance, computer programming, and accountancy, as well as managerial and administrative positions.