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Physics with Foundation Year

BSc (Hons)

School - School of Computing, Science & Engineering

Subject area - Physics

UCAS Code: F305

Start Date(s): September


One year foundation plus three years full-time for the degree or
one year foundation plus four years full-time for the degree with placement year


UK - £6,165 for Foundation Year; £9250 for subsequent years

In Brief:

  • A bespoke foundation year tailored to develop your skills and understanding in physics and maths in order to succeed in later years
  • Strong links with industry and regular seminars from visiting industry professionals
  • Problem solving skills developed throughout the course open up diverse career opportunities in research, science based industry, business teaching and finance

Course Summary

Physics underpins much in our everyday lives from the structure of the universe to your digital watch. Basic magnetism has led to life saving equipment such as CAT and MRI scanners and photonics research has led to CFDs, LEDs and barcode scanners. In fact, much of today’s technology is founded in  physics.

Physics is widely considered to be a challenging subject and so here at Salford we place great emphasis on small group teaching so that you feel fully supported and able to ask questions, after all, all the best physicists have enquiring minds.

A unique part of our physics degree is our emphasis on employer engagement. We consulted professional physicists from industry when we designed this course to ensure that the content we are teaching you is robust and will prepare you for the world of work. Additionally, physicists working in industry also drop by to give guest seminars and set real life problems for you to work on. Due to the analytical and problem solving nature of physics, this degree opens doors to a wide range of careers. Previous graduates have commonly found employment in the following sectors: medical physics, defence, finance, research, education, engineering and nuclear. As a Salford graduate you will  have no shortage of skills to take you into a successful, exciting career.

This course provides an alternative entry route on to our BSc (Hons) Physics degree and other related physics courses. This Foundation Year will provide you with a broad introduction to physics, maths, laboratory and IT skills. It is ideal for students who may not have reached the required level in A levels or BTEC study or those who have chosen a new direction for their studies.

On successful completion of the Foundation Year you will go on to study the same curriculum as the standard physics degree course. It is possible to transfer to the MPhys course after successfully completing the first year of the full degree.

Course Details

The Foundation Year of the four-year programme aims to provide understanding of the key subjects in physics to meet the prerequisites for study on the associated degree programme. The key areas of study will be effective communication and study skills combined with key subjects in physics. Furthermore, you will cover essential mathematics and gain the correct skill set for success on the related physics course. Following completion of the Foundation Year, you will progress on to year one of your selected degree for the remaining three years of your course.

Full Physics BSc (Hons) Degree

Our physics courses combine a fundamental understanding of the laws of physics that govern the behaviour of all systems from the very small to the very large, with applications in modern technologies underpinned by these laws. The course is built around a core of compulsory modules giving a thorough grounding in physics. You will also take part in group projects that will allow you to develop your team working, problem solving, communication and presentation skills; all desirable within the industrial and research communities.

In the first year of the full degree you will be introduced to the whole breadth of physics including classical physics, quantum physics, particle physics and relativity. In addition you will study further mathematical techniques and the use of computers to solve mathematical problems. Lectures and tutorial classes are complemented by practical laboratories used to reinforce an understanding of the laws of physics and their application. This teaching is further complemented by exposure to possible careers in physics through weekly seminars delivered by employers of physics graduates. These seminars are complemented by a problem based learning laboratory where you will embark on open ended group based exercises designed to enhance problem solving skills.

In the second year of the full degree you will study more topics in physics at an advanced level including classical and quantum wave phenomena, statistical physics and the properties of matter and electromagnetism. You will learn how to use computers to solve problems in physics as well as interfacing computers to experiments. In the practical laboratory you will undertake experiments linked to the curricula as well as undertaking a group project whose aims are to design, build and demonstrate a piece of physics related equipment. Optional modules include astrophysics, acoustics and a foreign language.

In the final year of the BSc you will study topics including the quantum mechanics of atoms, molecules and solids, nuclear physics, particle physics, relativity, electromagnetic theory and wave optics. Optional courses include photonics, nanotechnology, theoretical physics, musical acoustics and a foreign language.  You will also undertake a significant final year project that can be practical, theoretical or computational in nature (or a mix). Projects can be tailored to your interests or career ambitions.

You can opt to take an industrial placement year in between the second and third year of your degree course. You will arrange your placement with our support. Placements have a number of benefits: 

  • You will improve your employment prospects after graduation
  • You get to see the physics you have learned in action
  • Positions are often paid
  • Many of our industrial placement students ultimately improve their degree classification over their second year results to receive top class degrees.

Foundation Year                  

These modules entail the development of mathematical and modelling skills. Subjects include algebra, transposition of formulae, coordinate systems, logarithms, introduction to calculus, problem solving in velocity and acceleration, differentiation, integration and matricesc.                        
This module provides a grounding in basic physics and the development of numerical problem solving. The syllabus includes, mechanics, properties of matter and wave propagation.                        
In this module electronics and electricity are introduced, along with fields (magnetic, electric, gravitation etc.) and atomic and nuclear physics.                        
Laboratory skills, critical analysis of data and scientific reporting are examined in this module. The areas covered are experimental design, scientific measurement methods and data analysis. This is achieved through a series of experiments covering mechanics, thermal physics, electricity and waves.                        
This module involves the development of IT, research, team working, presentation and scientific reporting skills. In more detail, the use of spreadsheets, graphical representation of data, report writing, scientific presentations and group-based research will be undertaken.                        

Year 1            

Delivered through lectures, problem-based learning and laboratory sessions, in this module you will be introduced to the following subjects: classical dynamics, static and dynamic charges, fundamentals of quantum mechanics, fundamentals of relativity and atomic and nuclear physics.                  
Delivered through key note lectures, tutorial and problem-based learning classes and practical laboratory sessions, in this module you will be introduced to the following subjects: thermodynamics, microscopic and macroscopic properties of matter, fundamentals of waves and geometrical optics and wave        optics.                  
Being able to apply your scientific knowledge and thinking to unfamiliar problems is a key skill for success in industry and research. By introducing you to this skill, along with other important skills identified by our industrial and academic partners, they will become second nature, giving you a        head        start        in your chosen career.                  
An understanding and ability to use mathematics are essential skills for success in physics this module will review A level mathematics covering the following subjects: algebra, trigonometry, functions, geometry, vectors, complex numbers and calculus, with emphasis on their applications to physics.                  
Building on the subject knowledge from Mathematics for Physics module you will further you knowledge of differential equations and series with emphasis on their applications to physics and develop your awareness of the importance of mathematics in a quantitative description of physics. You will be introduced        to        the        use of spreadsheets, computing programming and symbolic computing.                  

Year 2            

Plus one optional module from below:    

Year 3    

One of the most important parts of the preparation for your future career, whether in industry, research or even education, is the undertaking of a final year project. The projects can be chosen from a list provided by an academic or on a subject of your choice, if agreed by a supervising academic.                  
In this module you will be provided with an overview of nuclear physics, an understanding of nuclear stability in terms of the liquid drop model, of nuclear reactions involving neutrons, protons, electrons and neutrinos, and major experimental techniques and practical applications. The particle physics  aspects  of        the module will cover the basic discoveries of modern particle physics and introduce the ideas of grand unified theory.                  
Plus one optional module from below:    
You will be introduced to speech production and modelling, speech analysis and synthesis with particular reference to the application of speech technology in modern communication devices. You will develop a systematic understanding of human perception of sound and its application in a musical context.      

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
English Language and Maths at grade C or above. 4 in Maths and English.
UCAS tariff points 72 UCAS Tariff points from any subject combination. 64 UCAS Tariff points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics at A-level.
GCE A level 72 UCAS points from any subject combination 64 UCAS points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics at A Level. E Pass in Science Practical.
BTEC National Diploma MMP for any subject MPP for Engineering or Science.
Scottish Highers 72 UCAS Tariff points (new system) from any subject combination. 64 UCAS Tariff points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics to A-level standard.
Irish Leaving Certificate 72 UCAS Tariff points (new system) from any subject combination. 64 UCAS Tariff points where qualifications include both Mathematics and Physics to A-level standard.

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We positively welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to successfully pursue a programme of study in higher education. Students who do not have the traditional entry requirements may be able to apply through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme Support in preparing for the written assessment is available from the University.

English Language Requirements

This course is not suitable for international applicants.

Applicant profile

This course is designed for someone who is passionate about physics and science in general. Students should have an aptitude for mathematics and problem solving.

For entry onto the foundation year we consider students from any academic background including students choosing a new direction to their studies. Industrial experience can be used in place of academic qualifications for prospective students seeking to enter academia after spending time in the workplace.

Fees and Funding


Fees 2018-19

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £6,165 for Foundation Year; £9250 for subsequent years

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


This course is delivered using a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical-based work. In the final year you carry out a major project. Each module is delivered and assessed in the most appropriate way. Some modules are lectures and tutorial classes and assessed in part through a final examination. Other modules and laboratory baed (including computer laboratory based) and are assessed through exercises and assignments.
You will be taught by a wide a range of teaching staff,  all experts in different aspects of  physics with each bringing particular research expertise to the course. The range of staff interests is reflected in the broad range of project opportunities available.

Many students take a year’s industrial placement after the second year, or  a summer internship, which you arrange with our support. Recent student placements and internships include:

  • AMEC Foster Wheeler
  • Westinghouse Springfields Fuels Ltd.
  • NXP Semiconductors Ltd.


  • Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Practical work
  • Project work


Graduates from the physics degree course are equipped to pursue careers in a wide range of professions. Starting salaries for graduates are in typically in the range £20,000 to £30,000 and current industry demand for physics graduates is very high.

Below are just a few of the job areas our recent graduates work in and the companies that employ them:

  • Nanotechnology  (Nanoco Ltd.)
  • Scientific Instruments (Agilent, Kratos)
  • Aerospace (EADS Astrium, BAE systems)
  • Medical Physics (Christie Hospital)
  • Geophysics (Petroleum Geo Services)
  • Financial Services (Barclays, RBS)
    Materials Engineering (Versarian, Pilkingtons)
  • Laser Engineering (Laser Quantum)

Many students go on to study PhDs at Salford, other UK universities and abroad in wide range of projects ranging from theoretical quantum optics to practical particle physics.

Alumni Profile

Rebecca Kearney joined the physics foundation course in September 2010 and after successfully completing the foundation year she transferred to the MPhys physics degree and graduated with  1st class honours in July 2015.  She is presently a Graduate Engineer at Cummins Turbo Technologies Limited.

Phil Walmsley – joined in the Physics course in the Foundation year and graduated with an MPhys degree in 2015. Phil now works for Laser Quantum Ltd.  Laser Quantum develop laser and laser based technology used in scientific research, industry and medicine.

April Hatchard graduated with a BSc(Hons) degree in 2013 and now works for Sphere Medical Limited. Sphere Medical develops innovative medical monitoring and diagnostic equipment. April role in the company is a Failure Analysis Engineer.

Blair Lavelle graduated with a BSc(Hons) degree in 2015 and now works for Risktech Solutions Ltd. as a graduate engineer. Ristech Solutions is a specialist risk management consultancy who work with major hazard industries in the commercial and public sectors.

Links with Industry

The course has strong links with industry and has an industrial advisory board with membership drawn from a broad range of professions who advise on course content and structure. Many of our industrial collaborators contribute to the first year external seminar series which exposes students to possible career choices on graduation.

Further Study

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