University of Chester

Programme Specification
Physics with Materials Science BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Physics with Materials Science

Physics with Materials Science

University of Chester

University of Chester

Thornton Science Park

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Science & Engineering Natural Sciences

Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics


Intention to seek accreditation with the Institute of Physics

Science and Engineering

Tuesday 8th September 2015

The Physics with Materials Science degree programme is a physics-based course which contains the Core of Physics as defined by the Institute of Physics while including industry-relevant and physical science based Materials Science content. Accreditation by the Institute of Physics will be pursued. The possibility of a level of accreditation or recognition from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining is under investigation.  The degree programme is based around the Physical Science pathway through the Natural Sciences Bachelor of Science degree enriched by selected topics from the complementary field of Materials Science.  The depth of study required by the professional institution is broadened and enriched to give a truly interdisciplinary and industry-relevant physical scientific based education.

The BSc programme aims to:

  • Offer an interesting, challenging, and industrially relevant degree programme that cultivates the synergy between teaching and research;
  • Lay a common foundation of physical and materials science principles through a core physics curriculum supplemented by selected industry-relevant materials science modules and emphasising the synergies between the physics and materials strands of the programme;
  • Develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the fundamental scientific and mathematical tools and techniques used for analysing and modelling complex technological systems;
  • Equip students with an awareness of physical and materials science in the wider social, commercial, ethical and sustainable context;
  • Provide opportunities for access and personal and professional development that will enable students to reach their full potential in all aspects of University life;
  • Inspire a commitment to life-long learning;
  • Create highly motivated graduates who will be in demand by a wide spectrum of employing organisations, especially in the physical science based industries.

Overall, the BSc Physics with Materials Science programme aims to provide an insight into current developments in physical and materials sciences, and their impact on society.

  FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5 FHEQ Level 6
The fundamental concepts, theories, principles and limitations of physical science, with an introduction to industry-relevant chemistry and biotechnology; All modules at L4 except SE4001 & SE4003 All modules at L5 except WB5101 All modules at L6 except SE6003
Knowledge of the principles, concepts and theories of materials science, and their relationship to the underlying physics; SE4024 & SE4014,  content from SE4007 SE5012, SE5050 All modules at L6 except SE6003
The mathematical concepts and principles that are relevant to the analysis and solution of applied scientific problems. SE4003 SE5001 + math content of all other modules math content of all modules
An appreciation of how the concepts, theories and principles of physical and materials science feed into and support modern technology.  SE4014 SE5051 + applied content of all modules All modules at L6 except SE6003
The commercial and economic context of modern science including the business practices and management techniques that are used to achieve scientific and technical objectives, and how regulatory issues influence scientific activities. SE4001 WB5101 SE6003 SE6010
The need for a high level of professional and ethical conduct in science and technology, and the need for scientific activities to promote responsible and sustainable development. SE4001  




  FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5 FHEQ Level 6
A systematic approach to defining and investigating scientific problems and the ability to display creativity and innovation in tackling non-routine applications. All modules at L4 except SE4003 all modules at L5 except WB5101 all modules at L6 except SE6003
The ability to integrate knowledge and understanding across scientific disciplines in building an appreciation of multi-disciplinary areas. SE4007 SE4008 all modules at L5 except WB5101 SE6010 SE6012 SE6022 SE6023
To be able to select an appropriate strategy to tackle a problem involving one or more unknowns, and to synthesise the results to an appropriate level of detail, taking into account the limitations of the techniques and methods used. SE4007 SE4008 SE4014 all modules at L5 except WB5101 all modules at L6
The ability to plan a scientific investigation; to evaluate the results and to make appropriate recommendations based upon these. SE4008 SE4007 SE4014 SE4024 all modules at L5 except WB5101 all modules at L6 except SE6003

  FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5 FHEQ Level 6
Identify and safely use laboratory equipment within a physical, materials, chemical or biological science context, executing an experimental investigation including using apparatus to acquire data SE4007 SE4008 SE4014 SE4023 SE4024 SE5049 SE5050  SE6010
Carry out and interpret the results of specific tests to characterise the properties of materials SE4014 SE5050  
Be able to analyse experimental data using appropriate techniques including mathematical and statistical software, to be able to determine and interpret the associated measurement uncertainties, and to report fully the results of such an investigation. SE4001 SE4003 SE4007 SE5001 all modules at L6 except SE6003
To be aware of health and safety constraints and the appropriate precautions to be taken SE4001 SE4007 SE4008 SE4014 SE4023 SE4024    
Be motivated and able to work and learn independently. SE4001 WB5101 SE6010
Plan and manage time, resources and projects safely and effectively. SE4001 WB5101 or SE5051 SE6010 SE6003
Exercise independent thought, and have the confidence to make value judgements based on limited information   SE5051 SE6010
Be ready and prepared for their careers and committed to maintaining high professional and ethical standards. SE4001 WB5101 or SE5051 SE6010 SE6003

  FHEQ Level 4 FHEQ Level 5 FHEQ Level 6
Demonstrate Information Technology Literacy SE4001 SE4003 use of IT is implicit in all modules at L5 use of IT is implicit in all modules at L6
Improving own learning and performance SE4001 through coaching and mentoring in all modules at L5 through coaching and mentoring in all modules at L6, especially SE6010
Working with others and as part of a team A high proportion of laboratory work at L4 is done as part of a team WB5101 SE6003
Communicate information orally, visually and in writing to a professional standard to both scientific and non-scientific/technical audiences. SE4001 SE5051 SE6010
Understand and use a systematic scientific method based approach to the solutions of scientific problems, using creativity to establish innovative solutions that are subject to some degree of scientific or technical uncertainty. through all laboratory work at L4 through all laboratory & course work at L5 Rigorous application of scientific method is emphasised in all modules except SE6003 at L6
Ability to apply quantitative methods and computer software in order to solve scientific problems in a physics or materials science context. SE4001 SE4003 SE5001 and through math content of all scientific modules at L5 All modules at L6 except SE6003 are rigorously quantitative and use computer software as part of their toolkit.
Acquire, evaluate, manage and understand the context of scientific information from a range of sources including ICT and conventional resources, and apply it in the solution of scientific problems. SE4001 & all laboratory-based work through all laboratory & course work at L5 Evaluation of scientific information is intrinsic to all L6 modules except SE6003, explicitly evaluated in SE6010

Physical scientists use the principles of rationalism and the scientific method to investigate the physical world and, through understanding, manipulate natural phenomena and properties for the benefit of mankind. The physical scientist is therefore an inquisitive and creative individual able to synthesise knowledge out of observation and experimental data using the tools of theory and mathematical manipulation. To facilitate this, the Physics with Materials Science BSc curriculum has been developed to provide a general physical science education covering all aspects of the Core of Physics as identified by the Institute of Physics.  Materials Science represents a specific field of enquiry and application in which physics plays a central role in the understanding, develop and application of novel and traditional materials demanded by today’s hi-tech industries.  The course will therefore produce graduates with the strong academic background and problem-solving attributes characteristic of the dedicated physicist, while also having demonstrable industry-relevant skills and expertise.

The Institute of Physics is a potential external accrediting organisations for the Physics with Materials Science BSc course.

The Institute of Physics provides either full accreditation for dedicated physics courses, or recognition for degrees with a substantial physics content. The “core physics” content identified by the Institute of Physics is covered in the course modules and therefore accreditation can be pursued.

Guidance on accreditation from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining is currently being sought.

The structure and content of this programme has been determined from a variety of sources:

  • The Institute of Physics “The Physics Degree: Graduate Skills Base & the Core of Physics” 2011.
  • The Institute of Physics Register of Recognised Courses (2013).
  • The UK Quality Code for Higher Education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, April 2012.
  • The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Subject Benchmark Statements for Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008)
  • The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Subject Benchmark Statements for Materials (2008)
  • The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, August 2008.
  • The Northern Ireland Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (NICATS): Principles and Guidelines 2002.
  • Beyond the honours degree classification; The Burgess Group final report, October 2007.
  • Proposals for national arrangements for the use of academic credit in higher education in England, Final report of the Burgess Group, December 2006.

Following the approach used by the QAA, the threshold levels relevant for achievement of each level and exit award within this programme are:

Certificate of Higher Education: 120 credits
Students will have a firm knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of core scientific subjects. They will have learned how to take different approaches to solving standard problems. Students will be logical, numerate and able to communicate accurately. They will have developed both independent learning and team working skills.

Diploma of Higher Education: 240 credits
Students will have developed a sound understanding of the principles involved in core scientific subjects, and will know how to apply those principles to solve more advanced problems. They will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems. Students will be numerate and able to communicate effectively. In employment, they will be able to take personal responsibility and work individually or as part of a team.

Bachelor of Science - Honours: 360 credits
Students will have developed an understanding of a complex body of knowledge relevant to application of the scientific method. They will have developed analytical and problem-solving skills that can be brought to bear in a range of advanced scientific situations. Honours graduates will be effective communicators, able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions and reach sound judgments. In employment they will be motivated, efficient, and able to take personal responsibility and make decisions in complex and unpredictable circumstances.

The first year of study lays the foundations of scientific principles across a range of subject areas, and is taught in common with Natural Sciences students. It includes a core physical, materials and mathematical sciences content along with chemistry and biotechnology.  There is some commonality with the core first year engineering courses taught in the Faculty, giving the students opportunities to mix with and learn from a wider cohort from an extended range of disciplines. In the second year the students follow the Natural Sciences physical science pathway with a significant mathematical content and including some materials characterisation and chemical analysis skills.  In the final year the students undertake an extended individual project, are introduced to the essentials of modern business practice, and take specialised materials science modules.

At level 4 of the BSc Natural Sciences programme, students will take:


Level Credit Name
SE4001 4 20 Professional Skills for Scientists and Engineers
SE4003 4 20 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers
SE4007 4 20 Chemistry Fundamentals
SE4008 4 20 Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
SE4014 4 10 Materials Science and Engineering
SE4023 4 10 Introduction to Thermodynamics
SE4024 4 20 Classical and Quantum Physics

Upon satisfactory progression to level 5 of the BSc Physics with Materials Science programme, students will take the following modules.  They have an option of either WB5101 or SE5051; all other modules are compulsory:


Level Credit Name Core, Option
WB5101 5 20 Enhancing your Employability through Work-based Learning Option
SE5051 5 20 Natural Sciences Experiential Learning Option
SE5026 5 10 Thermodynamics Core
SE5049 5 10 Analytical Chemistry Core
SE5050 5 10 Microscopy, Solids & On-line techniques Core
SE5001 5 20 Mathematics and Modelling Core
SE5011 5 20 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves Core
SE5012 5 20 Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Solids Core
SE5027 5 10 Statistical Thermodynamics Core

At level 6 of the BSc Physics with Materials Science programme, students will take the following modules:


Level Credit Name
SE6003 6 20 Mapping the Modern Business Landscape
SE6010 6 40 BSc Individual Project*
SE6012 6 20 Surfaces, Coatings and Nanotechnology
SE6022 6 20 Materials Science and Engineering
SE6029 6 20 Composite Science and Technology

*The individual project will be either physics-based or materials-based depending on the preference of the student in consultation with the course tutor.



Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SE4001 4 Professional Skills for Scientists and Engineers 20 Comp
SE4003 4 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers 20 Comp
SE4007 4 Chemistry Fundamentals 20 Comp
SE4008 4 Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry 20 Comp
SE4014 4 Materials Science and Engineering 10 Comp
SE4023 4 Introduction to Thermodynamics 10 Comp
SE4024 4 Classical and Quantum Physics 20 Comp
SE5001 5 Mathematics and Modelling 20 Comp
SE5011 5 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves 20 Comp
SE5012 5 Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Solids 20 Comp
SE5026 5 Thermodynamics 10 Comp
SE5027 5 Statistical Thermodynamics 10 Comp
SE5049 5 Analytical Chemistry 10 Comp
SE5050 5 Solids, Microscopy and On-line Techniques 10 Comp
SE5051 5 Natural Sciences Experiential Learning 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
SE6003 6 Mapping the Modern Business Landscape 20 Comp
SE6010 6 BSc Individual Project 40 Comp
SE6012 6 Surfaces, Coatings and Nanotechnology 20 Comp
SE6022 6 Materials Science and Engineering 20 Comp
SE6029 6 Composite Science and Technology 20 Comp

Certificate of Higher Education in Physics with Materials Science: 120 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4 may exit at the end of year one with a Certificate of Higher Education in Physics with Materials Science.

Diploma of Higher Education in Physics with Materials Science: 240 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4 and 120 credits at level 5 may exit at the end of year two with a Diploma of Higher Education in Physics with Materials Science.

BSc (Hons) Physics with Materials Science: 360 credits
Students who achieve 120 credits at level 4, 120 credits at level 5 and 120 credits at level 6, will exit the programme with a BSc (Hons) Physics with Materials Science.

It is the intention to seek accreditation for this course from the Institute of Physics (IoP).  The IoP specifies a Core of Physics and certain aspects of course structure and graduate characteristics which are fully compatible with the programme structure and content as described above.  All students will be offered the opportunity to register as student members of the IoP during or immediately after Induction Week, and will be encouraged to maintain their student membership for the duration of the programme.

The admissions data provided below was correct at the time of creating this programme specification. Please refer to the prospectus pages on the corporate website for the most recent data.

UCAS points: 300 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BBC/BBB
Specific subjects required: Physics at GCE A Level (minimum grade C) or equivalent.

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM

BTEC Diploma: D*D*

(to include Physics content and some evidence of mathematics at Level 3)

Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects including physics
International Baccalaureate: 28 points including 5 in HL Maths and 5 in a core physical science subject
Access Access to HE Diploma (Maths at Level 3) to include 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit, with evidence of significant physical science content.

OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 1

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DDM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 points from GCE AS Levels and that Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A levels and BTECs/OCRs.

For international entry requirements, you will need to visit and select the appropriate country.

Subject benchmark statements have been consulted for Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2008), and Materials (2008).  The Subject benchmark statement for Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics makes reference to the Core of Physics as defined by the Institute of Physics.  This Core of Physics has been taken as the minimum acceptable physics content for the programme, and is supplemented by the specific materials-related knowledge and skills identified in the Materials subject benchmark statement.  The Materials subject benchmark statement specifically includes reference to adequate chemistry and biology knowledge not normally included as part of a traditional physics degree, however, this is covered in the first year of the programme as a consequence of commonality with the first year of the Natural Sciences BSc programme.

In addition to the subject-specific materials, the Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics (2008) and the Materials (2008) subject benchmarking statements identify generic skills that overlap significantly (e.g. problem-solving, investigative, communication, analytical, ICT, sustainability & Environment, team-working, etc) that are specifically addressed in the modular structure of this programme.  Teaching, learning and assessment specifications also overlap significantly between the two benchmarking statements, as do the requirements for project work.  These are also addressed within the course structure.

Overall, the learning outcomes defined in the Module Descriptors for this programme represent the common factors of these two individual Benchmark Statements, along with the relevant subject-specific content.

A range of diverse teaching and learning strategies is deployed across the programme, with the appropriate method selected to deliver the best opportunity to attain learning outcomes and reinforce the student learning experience.

During the first year a broad combination of strategies is used to reflect the students’ diverse backgrounds, to ease the transition from School to University and to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. As the students progress, a greater emphasis is placed upon team and group working, the use of industrially-relevant problems, and transferable skills including communication skills.

During the more specialist second and final year, emphasis is placed upon a deepening scientific understanding that is informed by the research and scholarship of academic staff and involves a significant element of project work.

The development of the learning outcomes is promoted through the following teaching and learning methods:

  • Lectures: The primary means of conveying academic material and information. Most lecture courses provide problem sheets, worked examples and/or case studies. Students will also be directed to suitable resources involving a range of ICT to enable then to develop their understanding of the subject matter during their private-study.
  • Tutorials and Example Classes: These are normally delivered to smaller (than class sized) groups of students. These classes provide an opportunity for academic staff to resolve problems in the students' understanding.
  • Workshops: Used to enable students to work on “open-ended” problems related to real scientific and technical situations. They also provide good opportunities for developing team-working and communication skills as well as individual skills.
  • Laboratory Classes: To introduce and familiarise the students with experimental techniques and practical methods. They provide an excellent opportunity for students to practise team-working and communication skills. Students will have significant exposure to hands-on laboratory work throughout their degree programme. Students may be required to work independently or in small groups.
  • Individual Project: In the third year of the degree programme. This project represents a substantial individual investigative project on a scientific topic within or crossing boundaries between physics or materials science. It is conducted under the supervision of a member of staff. This project provides an excellent opportunity for the student to pull together every aspect of their development during the programme.

The department will make the maximum use of industry-university links so that graduates will be aware of modern commercial and managerial practices appropriate to the scientific and technological industry environment.

Opportunities for the student to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes are provided through the following summative assessment methods:

  • Written Examinations: Typically of 2 hours duration. The content of these exams is previously unseen by the student, and many modules use written exams as the main assessment method. Modules may also use open or closed book, multiple choice, open ended and essay type exams.
  • Coursework Assignments: Used throughout the curriculum where students are required to seek additional information so that they can develop and demonstrate their understanding of the course material. The exact form of assignment is chosen to allow the student the best opportunity to demonstrate their attainment of a particular learning outcome. In particular Laboratory Reports and/or Portfolios are used where the attainment of a subject specific practical skill is relevant, Technical Reports are used where the use of primary source material is required. Coursework may constitute the only or the major form of assessment in some modules and can be conducted on an individual basis at the beginning of the degree programme, or as small groups as the students progress. Coursework assignments increase in size and complexity as students progress through their degree, culminating in the Level 6 Individual Project Dissertation where students have the opportunity to integrate their learning from throughout their programme of study.
  • Oral and Poster Presentations are often included as part of coursework assignments. These presentations allow students to develop their communication skills.
  • Computer Based Tests and Assessed Simulations are used in modules that involve a substantial computer-based element.
  • Peer Assessment may be used in modules that involve a substantial team-working element. Normally, students will have the opportunity to moderate the final marks for group activities, to reflect the contributions of different team members and to encourage full and equal participation by each student. Students may also peer review other students' coursework to develop their critical thinking skills, but this case, the quality of the peer review is assessed.
  • Class Tests are conducted during the course of the academic year to assess students’ progress. The results from class tests provide a useful opportunity to give developmental feedback to students.
  • The Individual Project is the largest project element and is undertaken during the third year of the degree programme. The project is assessed via a written dissertation, a conference style oral presentation and the student’s response to questions. It is expected to be at a professional level.
  • Formative Assessments do not contribute to the final marks achieved for each module, but provide an opportunity for students to develop their critical evaluation skills and to monitor their own academic progress. They also provide a useful opportunity for lecturers to give feedback to the students and to monitor and improve the students learning experience. These assessments may take the form of diagnostic tests, in-class tests or on-line tests during lectures, and evaluation and discussions relating to logbooks and equipment during laboratory classes. Students will have opportunities to develop their oral and presentation skills during tutorials and workshops.

Graduates will embody the creative way of approaching scientific challenges that is generic across all scientific disciplines, while simultaneously being skilled and knowledgeable in the theory and application of physical science especially in a materials context. The graduates will:

  • Be inquisitive and curious about the natural world and the man-made environment that surrounds them.
  • Be rational and pragmatic, interested in the practical steps necessary to tackle a scientific problem or to investigate scientific phenomena.
  • Want to achieve sustainable solutions to problems and will have strategies for being creative, innovative and overcoming difficulties by employing their knowledge in a flexible manner.
  • Be numerate and highly computer literate, and capable of attention to detail.
  • Be aware of the social, cultural, environmental, health and safety, and wider professional responsibilities they should display.
  • Appreciate the international dimension to science and technology, including commerce and communication.
  • When faced with an ethical issue, be able to formulate and operate within appropriate codes of conduct.
  • Be professional in their outlook, capable of team working, effective communicators and able to exercise responsibility.

These characteristics will fit the graduates for a wide range of career options, including scientific, technical, supervisory and managerial career paths, and for further study by taught (M.Sc.) or research pathways.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The programme is delivered in English and provided the student has attained the defined standard there are no other cultural issues.

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