In their first year, students on both courses (BA and MPhys) cover 'classical' physics: the mechanics of particles, special relativity, and the physics of electric and magnetic fields, as well as differential equations, waves and elementary optics, and mathematical methods, including vectors and calculus. In addition, short option topics are offered, which may change from year to year but are likely to include quantum ideas, additional mathematics and subjects from other physical sciences.

Practical work

Practical work complements lectures and tutorials and introduces students to experimental and computational aspects. For two terms of the first year, students spend one day each week working individually or in pairs in the practical laboratories, on practicals such as: computing, electronics, optics and general physics. A course on computer programming combines lectures with hands-on work in the computing laboratory.

First year exams (prelims)

Towards the end of the first year, students take written examinations, consisting of five papers. Students must pass the exams and have a satisfactory record of practical work before they can proceed to the second year.