FAQ

If you have a question that is not covered above please contact the Admissions Tutor.

What are useful sources of information?

The Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, Irina Hoffman, is happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

Other sources of information are the University prospectus and our School booklet. These can also be obtained from the Admissions Tutor.

You might also want to consult the following contacts:

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
Rosehill
New Barn Lane
Cheltenham
Gloucestershire
GL52 3LZ

Tel: +44 (0) 1242 227788

www.ucas.ac.uk
The Institute of Physics
76 Portland Place
London
W1N 3DH

www.iop.org

Why should I study Physics?

Physics is the most fundamental of all the sciences. It is concerned with the nature of the physical world and the laws that describe the behaviour of its constituents, from quarks and atoms to planets and galaxies. It is a deep and intellectually stimulating subject.

Physics, and the skills that you learn studying it, are involved in so many aspects our our lives that physicists can, and in practice do, take up a remarkably wide range of careers.

If you would like to find out more about university Physics, and what it is like to be an undergraduate student at the university, we run Open Days and have a Schools Liaison programme.

What will I learn?

Our degree courses are designed to offer a solid core of physics knowledge and experience. In all of our courses, emphasis is placed on the acquisition of the skills and understanding required to make effective use of knowledge of the subject. We are also concerned to develop many important general skills such as planning, decision making, the effective use of verbal and written communication and the use of Information Technology.

How will I be taught?

The fifty-minute lecture is still one if the best ways of presenting the subject, and a large part of the course is presented in this way. Other teaching methods include skills sessions, problem-solving and example classes. Some of the small group teaching also concentrates on communication skills and the ability to work in groups.

Experimental physics teaching is important, equipping students with skills in experimental techniques, planning and analysis. We have modern, purpose-built laboratories with up-to-date technology. In addition to 'general' Physics laboratories, the courses have experimental work appropriate to their specialisation, for example Astrophysicists work in 'AstroLab'. In the third year, work is based in specialised Unit Laboratories which concentrate on one subject area – for example Nuclear Physics, Solid State Physics or Laser Physics.

Computing classes consist of both lectures and computer laboratory sessions. Students become familiar with Information Technology skills, and also acquire programming skills. In the second year there is a course in Computational Physics which aims to show how physicists use the computer for modelling and simulation tasks.

Skill sessions, laboratories and computer classes all have a very favourable demonstrators-to-students ratio; demonstrators are members of the academic staff or postgraduate students. All students are also allocated an academic tutor. Tutorial groups involve just four students or less, and the groups meet weekly – but students can see their tutors at any time.

Do the courses involve project work?

In all years you will have an opportunity to undertake project work, an this an important way to learn many transferable skills and get a taste of Physics research. An example of major project work in the third year is Group Studies, a student-led activity unique to Birmingham. MSci students spend a large part of their time in the fourth year on an independent research project working in one of the research groups. Click here for more information on project work.

What options will I have?

You have a very wide range of optional courses to choose from, with the largest choice with the Physics course. In the first two years, elective modules are available which allow you to take a course in another school or faculty. For example, arts and foreign language courses can be taken. Further, transfer between courses is possible up to the second year. The complete at-a-glance Programmes and Modules (Course Structures) can be found here.

Where will I be taught?

The University of Birmingham is a campus-based University which means that everything you might need is within easy reach. In particular, the School itself is in a group of purpose-built buildings in a central location on campus. This means that everything you need to learn - lecture theatres, laboratories, computer clusters and staff - is easy to get to. The School is also conveniently placed for access to the University Library, the Sports Centre and the Guild of Students, which provides catering and social functions.

Where will I live?

Birmingham University guarantees accommodation in Halls of Residence or self-catering flats for first year students. In subsequent years, students usually group together to rent accommodation in the nearby surrounding areas. Students are helped to find local accommodation in houses and flats by the staff of the University Housing Service, which also runs an accreditation scheme.