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BSc (Honours) Mathematics and Physics - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This broad-based scientific degree introduces you to mathematical and physical science concepts and thinking, and helps you to develop a mathematical and scientific approach. You should achieve

  • lifelong interest in science through modules that are accessible to people of all educational backgrounds
  • understanding of the roles of different scientific subjects
  • enthusiasm for the study of science through understanding how scientific knowledge develops, and an appreciation of the limits of scientific knowledge
  • ability to apply the main tools of applied mathematics (particularly Newtonian mechanics, differential equations, vector calculus, numerical methods and linear algebra), with the opportunity also to meet some of: advanced calculus, fluid mechanics, advanced numerical analysis
  • ability to model real-world situations and to use mathematics to help develop solutions to practical problems
  • experience of study of mathematics in some breadth and depth
  • understanding of some of the more advanced ideas within mathematics
  • development of your capability for working with abstract concepts
  • ability to communicate mathematical ideas and conclusions effectively
  • ability to work with others on mathematical modelling problems and their validation
  • skills necessary to use mathematics in employment, or to progress to further study of mathematics
  • ability to use a modern mathematical computer software package in pursuance of the above aims
  • development as an independent learner.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of

  • the basic concepts of modern physics (for example Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and relativity)
  • core mathematical methods appropriate for the physical sciences (e.g. linear algebra, calculus and mathematical modelling).

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree, you will have acquired ability

  • to apply judgment in selecting and applying a wide range of mathematical tools and techniques
  • to apply qualitative and quantitative problem-solving skills
  • to use and correctly apply knowledge and understanding of scientific facts, concepts, principles and theories in familiar and unfamiliar contexts
  • to describe, critically analyse and interpret scientific information and data presented in a variety of ways, including texts, tables, graphs, diagrams and figures, numerical and mathematical descriptions and computer-based media
  • to critically evaluate particular aspects of current scientific research.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • analyse and interpret data and report their significance in the light of underlying theory
  • plan your own learning and be adept at time management and organisation so that you can work independently or with others in ways appropriate for continuing personal and professional development
  • be an independent learner, able to acquire further knowledge with little guidance or support.

Key skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following key skills:

  • read and/or listen to documents and discussions having mathematical or scientific content, with an appropriate level of understanding
  • communicate information having mathematical or scientific content accurately and effectively, using a format, structure and style that suits the purpose.
  • prepare mathematical or scientific content for a range of purposes, which may include writing for both specialist and non-specialist audiences; writing reports on mathematical or scientific experiments or models; producing and/or delivering a presentation on a mathematical or scientific topic. Preparation of some content may require working collaboratively with others on projects
  • exhibit a high level of numeracy, appropriate to a graduate of a numerate discipline
  • prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques
  • use information technology with confidence to acquire and present knowledge, to model and solve practical problems and to develop insight
  • locate scientific information from a variety of sources (e.g. textual, numerical, graphical, computer-based), including review and primary sources, and use it to address scientific problems.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge, understanding and application skills, as well as cognitive (thinking) skills, are acquired through distance-learning materials that include specially written module texts, with practice exercises, guides to study and mathematical handbooks, comprehensive websites and a range of multimedia material (including computer software). Modules at higher levels build on the foundations developed in pre-requisite modules at lower levels. Some modules are more skills oriented than others and these offer the most opportunities to interact with fellow students.

You will work independently with the distance-learning materials, while being supported by a tutor. You will be offered the opportunity to attend face-to-face or online tutorials and day schools, which you are strongly advised to attend. You are also encouraged to interact with other students, for example via moderated online forums.

Written tutor feedback on assignments provides you with individual tuition and guidance. Your learning is further assessed through examinations and projects. Generally, you are permitted to bring the module handbook into examinations, thus reducing the need for memorisation, and concentrating on your ability to apply concepts and techniques and express them clearly and coherently. Your module results will be determined by your performance on both the assignments and the examination/project. For each module the final result will be based on a combination of the examination (or end-of-module assessment) score and the score obtained on (or engagement with) the continuous assessment. In some cases there is a threshold on individual components.