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Physics Foundation Year Personal Statement

Overview

Our Physics with a Foundation Year programme provides an exceptional opportunity to study for a Physics degree for students who do not have our traditional entry requirements. Applications for this course are welcomed from mature students, students who have previously not studied science but wish to take a new career direction and students who have been disadvantaged during their secondary education. All applicants are considered on a case-by case basis and all candidates will be interviewed before being offered a place on the course.

The Foundation Year

During the Foundation Year you will be assigned an adviser who will guide you in making your course choices to ensure your progression on to your degree course of choice. All students will study both Physics and Mathematics in both semesters and choose optional modules in either Biology, Chemistry or Computing. At the end of the Foundation Year successful students can move on to the BSc in Physics.

The Foundation Year offered at UEA is a full-time course taken over one year. The course does not require any previous AS level or A2 level studies in any of the subjects taught.
In the Foundation year, you will take modules worth 120 credits in all. These credits are obtained by passing the module which are assessed by a mixture of coursework and examination to produce an overall percentage grade and specific module marks. It is these marks, combined with the 120 credits that are taken into consideration when determining progression onto an Honours course.

Teaching and Assessment

A typical teaching week consists of around 20-25 hours of timetabled study.

This is taught with a combination of lectures, practical laboratory sessions and small-group tutorials and workshops, where you can discuss, in an informal setting, any points which were raised in lectures and find solutions to problem sheets distributed by tutors. You are also encouraged to discuss academic matters with tutors on a one-to-one basis.

In the laboratory, you will carry out experiments, based on the subject matter of your lecture programme. These sessions are supervised by your lecturers and by postgraduate student demonstrators, who will ensure the safe execution of the experiments and discuss the theory behind them.

Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination. Marks from the Foundation Year do not count towards your final degree classification, but are important for transfers to other degree programmes.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

This module extends material beyond Basic Mathematics I and Basic Mathematics II, and takes the most useful topics from the equivalent of the Further Maths A-level syllabus: - Simple common sets. - Notions of mathematical rigour and proof by induction. - Ideas of function such as f(x)=(ax+b)/(cx+d) for curve sketching, including identifying asymptotes. - Trigonometric functions and corresponding identities, including graph sketching aided by the derivative as the slope of a curve. - The hyperbolic functions sinhx, coshx and tanhx. - The Maclaurin Series Expansions. - Matrices and determinants (2x2 and 3x3) and their link with vector-cross-product. Examples of matrix-transformations of the plane and of space. - Separable variable first-order differential equations for modelling the motion of objects (once Integration has been covered in Basic Mathematics II). E.g. a car decelerating within a specified breaking distance; a body falling with air-resistance. All this has proved to set up students well for what follows in the degree course.

MTHB3003B

20

Taught by lectures and seminars to bring students from Maths GCSE towards A-level standard, this module covers several algebraic topics including functions, polynomials and quadratic equations. Trigonometry is approached both geometrically up to Sine and Cosine Rule and as a collection of waves and other functions. The main new topic is Differential Calculus including the Product and Chain Rules. We will also introduce Integral Calculus and apply it to areas.

MTHB3001A

20

Following MTHB3001A (Basic Mathematics I), this module brings students up to the standard needed to begin year one of a range of degree courses. The first half covers Integral Calculus including Integration by Parts and Substitution. Trigonometric identities, polynomial expressions, partial fractions and exponential functions are explored, all with the object of integrating a wider range of functions. The second half of the module is split into two: Complex Numbers and Vectors. We will meet and use the imaginary number i (the square root of negative one), represent it on a diagram, solve equations using it and link it to trigonometry and exponential functions. Strange but true: imaginary numbers are useful in the real world. The last section is practical rather than abstract too; we will be looking at three dimensional position and movement and solving geometric problems through vector techniques.

MTHB3002B

20

This course follows on from Introductory Physics and continues to introduce you to the fundamental principles of physics and uses them to explain a variety of physical phenomena. You will study gravitational, electric and magnetic fields, radioactivity and energy levels. There is some coursework based around the discharge of capacitors. The module finishes with you studying some aspects of thermal physics, conservation of momentum and simple harmonic motion.

PHY-3010B

20

This is a first module in physics if you are a student who is taking a Faculty of Science degree with a foundation year. In this 20 credit module you will begin your physics journey with units, accuracy and measurement. You will then progress through the topics of waves, light and sound, forces and dynamics, energy, materials and finish by studying aspects of electricity. The module has a piece of coursework which is based around PV cell technology.

PHY-3011A

20

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

In taking this module you will learn about a wide range of topics that are fundamental to computing science. You will study areas such as history of computing, web site design, the binary system, logic circuits, and algorithms. In the practical work for the module you will use a range of tools and techniques appropriate to the topic being studied.

CMP-3002A

20

A module designed for you if you are on a Science Faculty degree with a Foundation Year or Medicine with a Foundation Year. You will receive an introduction to the structure and electronic configuration of the atom. You will learn how to predict the nature of bonding given the position of elements in the periodic table and therefore. You will be introduced to the chemistry of key groups of elements. You will become familiar with key measures such as the mole and the determination of concentrations. The module includes laboratory work. No prior knowledge of chemistry is assumed.

CHE-3004A

20

This module will introduce you to computer programming. The module comprises of an introduction to programming and involves learning a programming language relevant to today's world.

CMP-3005A

20

Students must study the following modules for 100 credits:

Exploring fundamental aspects of thermodynamics and condensed matter physics, you'll be introduced to ideas about the electronic structure based on the free-electron Sommerfeld and band theories, along with the concept of phonons and their contribution to the heat capacity of a solid. You'll consider the structure, bonding and properties of solids, in particular electronic conductivity and magnetism, as well as atomic structure and atomic spectroscopy, and Entropy in terms of a macroscopic Carnot cycle and the statistical approach. Two important distributions of particles will be treated; Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac. Changes of state, 1st and 2nd order phase transitions and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation will be described.

PHY-5001Y

20

This module is the second in a series of three mathematical modules for students across the Faculty of Science. You will cover vector calculus (used in the study of vector fields in subjects such as fluid dynamics and electromagnetism), time series and spectral analysis (a highly adaptable and useful mathematical technique in many science fields, including data analysis), and fluid dynamics (which has applications to the circulation of the atmosphere, ocean, interior of the Earth, chemical engineering, and biology). There is a continuing emphasis on applied examples.

MTHB5006A

20

This module is the third in a series of three mathematical units for students across the Faculty of Science. It covers matrix algebra and numerical methods, partial differential equations and solid mechanics. There is a continuing emphasis on applied examples, and the use of numerical computing software (Matlab) is extended with a dedicated programming component. The module is taught by mathematicians with considerable expertise in the use of mathematics in the natural/environmental sciences and is largely designed to equip students with the tools necessary for advanced second and third level modules, particularly those in the physical sciences.

MTHB5007B

20

You'll cover the foundation and basics of quantum theory and symmetry, starting with features of the quantum world and including elements of quantum chemistry, group theory, computer-based methods for calculating molecular wavefunctions, quantum information, and the quantum nature of light. The subject matter paves the way for applications to a variety of chemical and physical systems - in particular, processes and properties involving the electronic structure of atoms and molecules.

CHE-5250Y

20

On this module you'll explore physics as an empirical science through a series of laboratory experiments that probe key concepts and physical laws. The laboratory sessions will be underpinned by associated teaching surrounding the studied phenomena, and will complement topics addressed in other modules in the physics course. Experiments have been chosen to cover a whole range of topics within your lecture courses. Examples include the analysis of circuit behaviour with DC and AC current, diffraction and interference, some aspects of radioactivity and some aspects of magnetic fields. This module also introduces you to the skill of writing for the general public; a skill recommended by professional bodies such as the Institute of Physics.

PHY-5003Y

20

Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Please ensure that your chosen modules from each Option Range do not have the same Sub-Slot code, as this will generate timetable clashes.

A practical introduction to electronics, this module is structured to consider analogue electronics and digital electronics in turn. Topics you'll cover include passive and active components, including op-amps, transistors, logic gates, flip-flops and registers. Circuits you'll study include amplifiers, oscillators, modulators, combinational and sequential logic and state machines. You'll spend much of your time doing practical work - underpinned by lectures - where you will build prototypes circuits, as well as designing and building Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).

CMP-5027A

20

What lies beneath our feet? This module addresses this question by exploring how wavefields and potential fields are used in geophysics to image the subsurface on scales of metres to kilometres. You'll study the basic theory, data acquisition and interpretation methods of seismic, electrical, gravity and magnetic surveys. A wide range of applications are covered, including archaeological geophysics, energy resources and geohazards. Highly valued by employers, this module features guest lecturers from industry who explain the latest 'state-of-the-art' applications and give you unique insight into real world situations. Students doing this module are normally expected to have a good mathematical ability, notably in calculus and algebra.

ENV-5004B

20

What lies beneath our feet? This module addresses this question by exploring how wavefields and potential fields are used in geophysics to image the subsurface on scales of metres to kilometres. You'll study the basic theory, data acquisition and interpretation methods of seismic, electrical, gravity and magnetic surveys. A wide range of applications are covered, including archaeological geophysics, energy resources and geohazards. Highly valued by employers, this module features guest lecturers from industry who explain the latest 'state-of-the-art' applications and give you unique insight into real world situations. Students doing this module are normally expected to have a good mathematical ability, notably in calculus and algebra. This module also includes a one-week field course, currently held in the Lake District during Easter break. The cost of attending the field course is heavily subsidised by the School but students enrolling must commit to paying a sum to cover their attendance.

ENV-5005K

20

You will build on the introductory material from first year engineering mechanics. An appreciation of why dynamics and vibration are important for engineering designers leads to consideration of Single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) systems, Equation of motion, free vibration analysis, energy methods, natural frequency, undamped and damped systems and loading. Fourier series expansion and modal analysis are applied to vibration concepts: eigenfrequency, resonance, beats, critical, under-critical and overcritical damping, and transfer function. Introduction to multi-degree of freedom (MDOF) systems. Applications to beams and cantilevers. MathCAD will be used to support learning.

ENG-5004B

20

Processes in the Earth's interior exert a profound influence on all aspects of the Earth's system, and have done so throughout geological time. This module is designed for you to explore all aspects of those processes from the creation and destruction of tectonic plates to the structure of the Earth's interior and the distribution and dissipation of energy within it. This will include: the theory and mechanisms of plate tectonics, the generation of magma and volcanism; the mechanisms behind earthquakes. You will also cover the geological record of this activity, its evolution and impacts on the Earth.

ENV-5018A

20

This module examines the principles of energy science and technologies including energy generation and conversion, such as renewables, bioenergy and batteries. It provides a systematic and integrated account of the issues in energy resources and conversion. This knowledge is used to make a rational analysis of energy availability, applications and selections from physical, technical and environmental considerations. It also provides students with the opportunity to explore the future of energy provision in greater depth.

ENV-5022B

20

Mathematical modelling is concerned with how to convert real problems, such as those arising in industry or other sciences, into mathematical equations, and then solving them, using the results to better understand, or make predictions about, the original problem. You will look at techniques of mathematical modelling, examining how mathematics can be applied to a variety of real problems and give insight in various areas, including approximation and non-dimensionalising, and discussion of how a mathematical model is created. You will then apply this theory to a variety of models, such as traffic flow, as well as examples of problems arising in industry.

MTHF5032Y

The weather affects everyone and influences decisions that are made on a daily basis around the world. From whether to hang your washing out on a sunny afternoon, to which route a commercial aircraft takes as it travels across the ocean, weather plays a vital role. With that in mind, what actually causes the weather we experience? In this module you'll learn the fundamentals of the science of meteorology. You'll concentrate on the physical process that allow moisture and radiation to transfer through the atmosphere and how they ultimately influence our weather. The module contains both descriptive and mathematical treatments of radiation balance, thermodynamics, dynamics, boundary layers, weather systems and the water cycle. The module is assessed through a combination of one piece of coursework and an exam, and is designed in a way that allows those with either mathematical or descriptive abilities to do well, although a reasonable mathematical competence is essential, including basic understanding of differentiation and integration.

ENV-5008A

20

This module gives you an understanding of the physical processes occurring in the basin-scale ocean environment. We will introduce and discuss large scale global ocean circulation, including gyres, boundary currents and the overturning circulation. Major themes include the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, and the forces which drive ocean circulation. You should be familiar with partial differentiation, integration, handling equations and using calculators. Shelf Sea Dynamics is a natural follow-on module and builds on some of the concepts introduced here. We strongly recommend that you also gain oceanographic fieldwork experience by taking the 20-credit biennial Marine Sciences field course.

ENV-5016A

20

The module covers a number of areas of modern physical chemistry which are essential to a proper understanding of the behaviour of chemical systems. These include the second law of thermodynamics and entropy, quantum mechanics, the thermodynamics of solutions and chemical kinetics of complex reactions. The module includes laboratory work. Due to the laboratory-based content on this module, you must have completed at least one Level 4 module containing laboratory work.

CHE-5201Y

20

The purpose of this module is to give you a solid grounding in the essential features of programming using the Java programming language. The module is designed to meet the needs of the student who has not previously studied programming.

CMP-5020B

20

This module builds on understanding in wind, tidal and hydroelectric power and introduces theories and principles relating to a variety of renewable energy technologies including solar energy, heat pumps and geothermal sources, fuel cells and the hydrogen economy, biomass energy and anaerobic digestion. You will consider how these various technologies can realistically contribute to the energy mix. You will study the various targets and legislative instruments that are used to control and encourage developments. Another key aspect of the module is the study and application of project management and financial project appraisal techniques in a renewable energy context.

ENG-5002B

20

The shallow shelf seas that surround the continents are the oceans that we most interact with. They contribute a disproportionate amount to global marine primary production and CO2 drawdown into the ocean, and are important economically through commercial fisheries, offshore oil and gas exploration, and renewable energy developments (e.g. offshore wind farms). You will explore the physical processes that occur in shelf seas and coastal waters, their effect on biological, chemical and sedimentary processes, and how they can be harnessed to generate renewable energy. You will develop new skills during this module that will support careers in the offshore oil and gas industry, renewable energy industry, environmental consultancy, government laboratories (e.g. Cefas) and academia. The level of mathematical ability required to take this module is similar to Ocean Circulation and Meteorology I. You should be familiar with radians, rearranging equations and plotting functions.

ENV-5017B

20

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

This module explores the physics behind the generation and reception of music. It provides an introduction to the fundamental principles of astrophysics, using these to explore a variety of astrophysical phenomena, and introduces the topics of uncertainties, accuracy and ethical behaviour in physics. You'll learn about acoustics, sound measurement and analysis, including more widely applicable concepts such as the behaviour waves and analysis using Fourier series. You will also study aspects of astrophysics including the history of astrophysics, radiation, matter, gravitation, astrophysical measurements, spectroscopy, stars and some aspects of cosmology. You will learn to predict differences between idealised physics and real life situations. You'll also improve your skills in problem solving, written communication, information retrieval, poster design, information technology, numeracy and calculations, time management and organisation.

PHY-4002Y

20

This module gives an introduction to important topics in physics, with particular, but not exclusive, relevance to chemical and molecular physics. Areas covered include optics, electrostatics and magnetism, aspect of chemical physics, basic quantum mechanics and special relativity. The module will involve both lectures and workshops, where you will develop analytical thinking and problem solving skills. The module may be taken by any science students who wish to study physics beyond A Level.

PHY-4001Y

20

This module will introduce you to the major areas of classical physical chemistry: chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, electrolyte solutions and electrochemistry as well as spectroscopy. Chemical kinetics will consider the kinetic theory of gasses and then rate processes, and in particular with the rates of chemical reactions taking place either in the gas phase or in solution. The appropriate theoretical basis for understanding rate measurements will be developed during the course, which will include considerations of the order of reaction, the Arrhenius equation and determination of rate constants. Thermodynamics deals with energy relationships in large assemblies, that is those systems which contain sufficient numbers of molecules for 'bulk' properties to be exhibited and which, are in a state of equilibrium. Properties that you'll discuss will include the heat content or enthalpy (H), heat capacity (Cp, Cv), internal energy (U), heat and work. The First Law of Thermodynamics will be introduced and its significance explained in the context of chemical reactions. It is very important that chemists have an understanding of the behaviour of ions in solution, which includes conductivity and ionic mobility. The interaction of radiation with matter is termed spectroscopy. You will discuss three main topics: (i) ultraviolet/visible (UV / Vis) spectroscopy, in which electrons are moved from one orbital to another orbital; (ii) infrared (vibrational) spectroscopy, a technique which provides chemists with important information on the variety of bond types that a molecule can possess; (iii) nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), which allow chemists to identify 'molecular skeletons'.

CHE-4202Y

20

You will cover differentiation, integration, vectors, partial differentiation, ordinary differential equations, further integrals, power series expansions, complex numbers and statistical methods as part of this module. In addition to the theoretical background there is an emphasis on applied examples. Previous knowledge of calculus is assumed. This module is the first in a series of three maths modules for those across the Faculty of Science that provide a solid undergraduate mathematical training. The follow-on modules are Mathematics for Scientists B and C.

ENV-4015Y

20

This module comprises two parts: andquot;Probabilityandquot; and andquot;Mechanicsandquot; Probability is the study of the chance of events occurring. It has important applications to understanding the likelihood of multiple events happening together and therefore to rational decision-making. In the first part of this module, you will start by studying probability as a measurement of uncertainty, and looking at statistical experiments and Bayes' theorem. You will then consider both discrete and continuous probability distributions and the concept of expectation. Finally you will consider applications of probability, including Markov chains and reliability theory. Newtonian mechanics provides a basic description of how particles and rigid bodies move in response to applied forces. In the second part of the module you will study Newton's laws of motion and how they can be applied to particle dynamics, vibrations, motion in polar coordinates, and conservation laws.

MTHB4007B

20

Understanding of natural systems is underpinned by physical laws and processes. You will explore the energy, mechanics, and physical properties of Earth materials and their relevance to environmental science using examples from across the Earth's differing systems. The formation, subsequent evolution and current state of our planet are considered through its structure and behaviour - from the planetary interior to the dynamic surface and into the atmosphere. You will study Plate Tectonics to explain Earth's physiographic features - such as mountain belts and volcanoes - and how the processes of erosion and deposition modify them. The distribution of land masses is tied to global patterns of rock, ice and soil distribution and to atmospheric and ocean circulation. You will also explore geological time - the 4.6 billion year record of changing conditions on the planet - and how geological maps can be used to understand Earth history. This course provides you with an introduction to geological materials - rocks, minerals and sediments - and to geological resources and natural hazards.

ENV-4005A

20

Students must study the following modules for 80 credits:

This module explores concepts in physics through a series of advanced laboratory experiments. The experiments are underpinned by associated teaching in other modules of the Physics course.

PHY-6003Y

20

On this module you'll examine a selection of advanced topics in physics. The topics you will study will compliment your other physics modules and examples include the use of Lagrangian Mathematics in physics, pulsars and gravitational waves. Within this module you will also prepare a presentation on an area of physics that interests you.

PHY-6002B

20

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, small group tutorials, lab sessions, seminars, workshop classes and project work. Training in scientific computing and programming is built into each degree.

A typical week for a first year physics student might consist of five hours of lectures, about two afternoons in laboratory or computing workshops (six hours), two hours of problem classes, four hours of workshops, and one hour in a small group tutorial session. This is a total of about 20 hours of contact time. You will also spend several hours a week on private study.

Assessment includes exams and course work (such as workshop and seminar problem classes). Lab work is primarily assessed in real time and project work is assessed through written reports and oral presentations.

You will have regular meetings with your personal tutor to discuss progress in your studies. Your personal tutor will also provide a sympathetic ear for all matters of personal concern, whether they be academic, financial, housing, career or social issues.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. To help with your independent learning, you can access the Library and our social study spaces in halls of residence.

Overall workload

Typical workload hours for Physics and Astronomy courses in 2016/17:

Year 1: 34% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 408 hours
  • Independent learning: 792 hours

Year 2: 27% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 324 hours
  • Independent learning: 876 hours

Year 3: 23% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 276 hours
  • Independent learning: 924 hours

Final year: 18% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity
  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 216 hours
  • Independent learning: 984 hours

While your actual contact hours may depend on the option modules you select, the above information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities for each year of your course.

Academic support

Our Student Learning Development Team provides help in the following areas:

  • study and exam skills
  • academic writing
  • presentations
  • dissertations
  • numerical data skills
  • referencing sources

Our AccessAbility Centre offers support and practical help for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties, including physical, mental health or mobility difficulties, deafness, or visual impairment.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. PhD research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader. Our teaching is informed by the research we do. You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.

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