Physics with Medical Physics BSc
Department of Physics and Astronomy
You are viewing this course for 2022-23 entry.
Our Medical Physics course has a special focus on the physics that keeps us alive: from the fluid mechanics that maintains the blood flowing in our veins, to the forces acting on our bones and tissues that support our dynamic living form. You’ll also learn about the medical techniques and technologies developed by physicists and used in the NHS, such as radiotherapy, ultrasound scanning and MRI machines.
At the start of your course, you’ll cover the essential physics behind everything else you’ll study: heat, motion, electricity, magnetism and quantum mechanics. You will also start to study the human body as a physical machine, and how electronics can be used to model biological systems. You’ll learn through lectures and practical labs so you won’t be learning about abstract topics in isolation. You’ll run experiments using the equipment in our modern laboratories to help you understand how important theories apply to the real world.
You’ll explore essential physics in even more depth in second year. You’ll also continue to specialise in medical physics, with modules on the tissues of the human body, medical imaging and biomedical instrumentation. In programming classes you can learn skills that are key to medical physics and valuable in many graduate careers, from data science to computer game design.
In the third year, you can branch out into lots of different areas and complete your own research project in medical physics. In your core modules, you’ll learn how computational techniques are used to examine medical problems and simulate natural systems, as well as studying topics like particle physics and nuclear physics. Optional modules include quantum mechanics and dark matter.
Accredited by the Institute of Physics (IOP) for the purpose of fully meeting the educational requirement for Chartered Physicist.
The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: F350
- Motion and Heat
This module introduces and applies the key concepts of motion and heat: force, equations of motion, phase space, determinism and free will, symmetry and conservation laws, waves and oscillations, coherence and classical frequency-time uncertainty, the laws of thermodynamics, thermal equilibrium, entropy and the arrow of time. You will learn how physics problems relate to these fundamental concepts, and how those concepts are used to construct solutions. You will apply the key concepts to design experiments to test scientific hypotheses. You will develop your data analysis and communication skills and to use different sources of information in your learning. You will work independently and as part of a group, developing a wide variety of study skills that will prepare you for the rest of your degree programme.25 credits
- Physics of Living Systems 2
The aim is to introduce biomechanical descriptions of the human body. We look at its structure and its performance as a physical machine. The structural characteristics of human bones and tissue are investigated, together with the mechanical functions of the skeleton and musculature. Simple fluid dynamic characteristics of the body are introduced, including descriptions of blood-flow in the arteries and veins and air-flow in the lungs.10 credits
- Fields and Quanta
This module introduces the key concepts of fields and quanta: electric and magnetic fields, the behaviour of electric charges and currents, vectors and densities, potentials, quantum states and their evolution, the probabilistic nature of fundamental physical law, and the breakdown of classical physics. This module will teach you how physics problems relate to these fundamental concepts, and how those concepts are used to construct solutions.25 credits
- Introduction to Electric and Electronic Circuits
This module introduces the concepts and analytical tools for predicting the behaviour of combinations of passive circuit elements, resistance, capacitance and inductance driven by ideal voltage and/or current sources which may be ac or dc sources. The ideas involved are important not only from the point of view of modelling real electronic circuits but also because many complicated processes in biology, medicine and mechanical engineering are themselves modelled by electric circuits. The passive ideas are extended to active electronic components; diodes, transistors and operational amplifiers and the circuits in which these devices are used. Transformers, magnetics and dc motors are also covered.20 credits
- Mathematics for Physicists and Astronomers
This module provides the necessary level 1 mathematics for students taking physics and/or astronomy degrees. The following topics will be covered: basic algebra (functions, coordinate systems, algebraic manipulation etc), Taylor and binomial series, common functions of one variable, differentiation and integration techniques, basic complex numbers, first and second order differential equations, vector calculus, properties and applications of matrices and elementary probability theory.30 credits
- Introduction to Astrophysics
One of four half-modules forming the Level-1 Astronomy course, PHY104 aims to equip students with a basic understanding of the important physical concepts and techniques involved in astronomy with an emphasis on how fundamental results can be derived from fairly simple observations. The module consists of three sections:10 credits
(i) Basic Concepts, Fluxes, Temperatures and Magnitudes;
(ii) Astronomical Spectroscopy;
(iii) Gravitational Astrophysics.
Parts (i), (ii) and (iii) each comprise some six lectures. The lectures are supported by problems classes, in which you will learn to apply lecture material to the solution of numerical problems.
- The Solar System
One of the four half-modules forming the Level 1 astronomy course, but may also be taken as a stand-alone module. PHY106 covers the elements of the Solar System: the Sun, planets, moons and minor bodies. What are their structures and compositions, and what dothey tell us about the formation and history of the Solar System?10 credits
- Our Evolving Universe
The course provides a general overview of astronomy suitable for those with no previous experience of the subject. The principal topics covered are (1) how we deduce useful physical parameters from observed quantities, (2) the structure and evolution of stars, (3) the structure of the Milky Way, and the classification, structure and evolution of galaxies in general, (4) an introduction to cosmology and (5) extrasolar plantets and an introduction to astrobiology. All topics are treated in a descriptive manner with minimal mathematics.10 credits
- Frontiers of Physics I
This pair of 10-credit modules aims to introduce research-inspired material into the level 1 physics curriculum. Each module includes three short courses on research-based topics taught by an academic who is actively involved in the research. The individual courses will be regularly reviewed to ensure that the material is up to date and includes current areas of investigation. The module aims to show that cutting-edge physics research is often underpinned by basic concepts covered in A level and 1st year physics courses.10 credits
- The Physics of Sustainable Energy
The module will cover the physics of sustainable energy. It includes discussions framed by the book `Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air' by D MacKay and will cover current energy requirements and what energy could potentially be provided by the various forms of renewable energy. The course will commence with a discussion of the basic physics of energy, power and work and the conversion of energy from one form to another. We examine in detail the history of global energy useage and how we produce and use energy in the UK. We will then explore the impacts that this energy use has on the biosphere and climate and the public perception of such processes. The course will then focus on the energy contenet of objects and processes we take for granted and will then move on to means by which we can produce energy using renewable technologies, such as wind, wave, solar, biofuels etc. We will also examine nuclear (fusion and fission) energy and will discuss their principles and practical implementation. Finally, we will consider solutions to our energy needs, including transportation, energy conservation, carbon capture and geoengineering.10 credits
- Tissue Structure and Function
This course introduces students to the tissues of the human body. The principal tissues that make up the body will be described including the cells, proteins and other extracellular components that make up the tissue. The structure of the tissue will be discussed in detail, in particular how it relates to its specific function in a healthy human body. Basic anatomy - how tissues combine to create organs and where each organ can be found in the human body will be studied. Practical classes on human anatomy and histology will be used to demonstrate tissue structure. Finally, how tissue damage causes loss of function will be considered. This course should enable students to understand enough about human tissues so that they can progress to understanding how engineering techniques are used to support, monitor and repair damaged human tissues.10 credits
- Aspects of Medical Imaging and Technology
This module provides an introduction to medical technology, with a particular bias towards ionising and non-ionising electromagnetic radiation and its diagnostic role in medicine. The module begins with the generation and behaviour of electromagnetic waves and the breadth of technological application across the electomagnetic spectrum. This extends from magnetic resonance imaging at low energies to high energy photons in X-ray systems. The importance of radiation in diagnosis is acknowledged by discussion of imaging theory and primary imaging modalities, such as planar radiography and CT. The therapeutic role is examined by a brief consideration of radiotherapy.10 credits
- Special Relativity & Subatomic Physics
Special relativity is a key foundation of modern physics, particularly in the contexts of particle physics and astrophysics where E = mc2 and relativistic speeds are crucial concepts. In this module, the fundamental principles of special relativity will be explained, emphasising the energy-momentum four-vector and its applications to particle collisions and decays. Applications to nuclear physics include nuclear mass & binding energy, radioactive decay, nuclear reactions, nuclear fission and fusion. We will also cover the structure of the nucleus (liquid drop model and an introduction to the shell model).10 credits
- Biomedical Instrumentation
This unit provides an overview of important topics in biomedical instrumentation. The module is designed around the measurement needs in hospital-based critical care monitoring and in particular how the instrumentation engineer can help the clinician to answer a specific but vital question: is tissue oxygen delivery adequate? This central clinical scenario is used as the basis upon which to describe a number of key topics in transducer design and signal processing. Key topics in electrocardiography and signal processing are illustrated via 2 hands-on lab sessions, whose continual assessment forms 10% of the overall module mark.10 credits
- Classical and Quantum Physics
This module provides the core level 2 physics content for non-theoretical degrees. It integrates physics content with supporting mathematics and practical work. Transferable skills are covered via different presentation modes for lab work. A further item is employability. The module also contains one or more items of group work. Physics topics covered are classical physics and oscillations, thermal physics, quantum mechanics, properties of matter and electromagnetism. Mathematics topics are Fourier techniques and partial differential equations. Both mathematical topics are applied to a range of the physics covered and are integrated with aspects of the practical work. The module is assessed via four standard exams (15% each), three topical and one integrative covering all the taught material, and course work (40%). Students must develop and pass a portfolio to pass the module.70 credits
- Physics with Labview
The module will teach Labview software, and allow students to experiment with instrumentation and basic electronics. These skills will be useful in further years of study, particularly with regard to the Level 3 and 4 projects. These skills are also useful in future employment in both academic and industrial science and engineering where being able to develop laboratory instrumentation to solve experimental problems will be highly desirable.10 credits
- Clinical Engineering and Computational Mechanics
The complexity of the geometry and boundary conditions of structures within the body are such that the physical governing equations rarely have closed-form analytical solutions. This module describes some of the numerical techniques that can be used to explore physical systems, with illustrations from biomechanics, biofluid mechanics, disease treatment and imaging processes. The primary technique that will be used is the finite element method, and the fundamental concepts behind this powerful technique will be described. The lectures will be supported by laboratory sessions in which the student will apply commercial codes to investigate problems in the medical sphere.10 credits
- Particle Physics
This Level 3 Physics half module introduces students to the exciting field of modern particle physics. It provides the mathematical tools of relativistic kinematics, enabling them to study interactions and decays and evaluate scattering form factors. Particles are classified as fermions - the constituents of matter (quarks and leptons) - or as bosons, the propagators of field. The four fundamental interactions are outlined. Three are studied in detail: Feynman diagrams are introduced to describe higher order quantum electrodynamics; weak interactions are discussed from beta decay to high energy electroweak unification; strong interactions, binding quarks into hadrons, are presented with the experimental evidence for colour. The role symmetry plays in the allowed particles and their interactions is emphasised.10 credits
- Atomic and Laser Physics
This module covers the physics of atoms and lasers at an intermediate level. The course begins with the solution of the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom and the atomic wave functions that emerge from it. It then covers atomic selection rules, spectral fine structure and the effects of external fields. The spectra of selected multi-electron atoms are described. The basic operation of the laser is then covered by introducing the concepts of stimulated emission and population inversion. The course concludes with a description of common lasers and their applications.10 credits
- Solid State Physics
This is the final core solid state physics module. It covers the classification of solids into the three types - conductors, semiconductors and insulators, the free electron model, the origin of electronic band structure, the fundamental properties of conductors and semiconductors, carrier statistics, experimental techniques used to study carriers in a solid, the classification and physics of the principal types of magnetism.10 credits
- Modelling and Simulation of Natural Systems
This unit will provide a practical introduction to techniques used for modelling and simulating dynamic natural systems. Many natural systems can be modelled appropriately using differential equations, or individual based methods. In this unit, students will explore and understand both modelling approaches. They will gain knowledge of the assumptions underlying these models, their limitations, and how they are derived. Students will learn how to simulate and explore the dynamics of computational models, using a variety of examples mostly drawn from natural systems. Students should be aware that there are limited places available on this course.10 credits
- Nuclear Physics
This half-module Level 3 Physics course aims to study the general properties of nuclei, to examine the characteristics of the nuclear force, to introduce the principal models of the nucleus, to discuss radioactivity, to study nuclear reactions, in particular fission and fusion, and to develop problem solving skills in all these areas. The motivation is that nuclear processes play a fundamental role in the physical world, in the origin of the universe, in the creation of the chemical elements, as the energy source of the stars and in the basic constituents of matter - plus the best of all motives - curiosity.10 credits
- Medical Physics Research Project
The aim of the medical physics project is to provide an opportunity for students to develop and apply their skills to a research problem. A range of projects are offered across the spectrum of physics and engineering applications, and many will address current medical or clinical needs. Students are encouraged to work in groups of two or three to develop team skills. In addition to creation of written reports, students will conclude the project with a viva involving formal presentation to graduate staff in the city hospitals.20 credits
- Problem Solving and Advanced Skills in Physics
This half-module seeks to provide insight and support to the Level 3 Physics programme as a whole. Lectures and tutorials will build upon previous skills developed involving data analysis and errors, information retrieval and scientific writing. Problem classes are directed to impart a broad, coherent and critical grasp of the fundamentals of Physics. Students are encouraged to attempt unfamiliar problems, extract the essentials, and so obtain quick, rough but sound solutions. The module involves group work and is assessed by means of class tests and written examinations. The latter are designed to test basic concepts of Physics and the ability to apply them to unrehearsed situations.10 credits
- Programming in Python
Teaching computer programming is a core aspect to our degree courses and is required by our accreditation body, the Institute of Physics. Python is a widely-available programming language that can be used to design powerful computer programmes suitable for scientific applications. In addition, Python is flexible, robust and is relatively easy to learn compared to other contemporary programming language. Python is also used widely in the computing industry and in research. The aim of this module is to teach the key elements of Python programming to enable students to design programs to perform tasks ranging from computational and numerical physics to data analysis and visualisation.10 credits
- Dark Matter and the Universe
Dark matter, though still unidentified and not yet directly detected, is established as a major constituent of the universe according to modern cosmology. In this course, we will review the astrophysical and cosmological evidence for the existence of dark matter, critically assess the various candidates that have been put forward, and discuss direct detection methods for the two most popular candidates: WIMPs and axions. The course has a multidisciplinary flavour combining work in astronomy, particle physics, solid state physics, detector technology and philosophy, encouraging development of skills in all these.10 credits
- The Physics of Soft Condensed Matter
Soft condensed matter is a generic name for a class of materials that play a crucial role in technology as well as providing fascinating and timely scientific problems. These complex materials are typified by polymers, gels and colloidal dispersions, whose properties often seem intermediate between ordinary liquids and solids. Familiar examples from everyday life include plastics, soaps and detergents, foodstuffs, and indeed the material from which living organisms are constructed. Only relatively recently has it been realised that despite the complexity of these materials elegant and simple physical principles often underlie their behaviour; this course provides an introduction to these principles.10 credits
- Nuclear Astrophysics
The aims of this Level 3 Astronomy module are:10 credits
1) To examine the evidence for the present distribution of the chemical elements in the Universe.
2) To study the various nuclear processes that have led to the evolution of these elemental abundances.
3) To discuss the possible astrophysical sites where these elements are produced.
- Statistical Physics
Statistical Physics is the derivation of the thermal properties of matter using the under-lying microscopic Hamiltonians. The aims of this course are to introduce the techniques of Statistical Mechanics, and to use them to describe a wide variety of phenomena from physics, chemistry and astronomy.10 credits
- Physics in an Enterprise Culture
"This is a seminar and workshop based course with a high level of student centred learning. The unit will introduce students to the methods and skills associated with innovation, business planning, costing and marketing. It will broaden students understanding of the mechanics of project planning and research commercialisation. The course is divided into two components:10 credits
Part 1: Coming up with ideas. Students will take part in guest lectures and workshop classes to explore different ideas for business. They will learn about the innovation process and what makes a sucessful business. They will finish part 1 by submitting a draft business proposal that will be reviewed by academic staff and student peers and feedback will be given.
Part 2: Armed with the feedback from part 1 students will refine thier ideas and work towards a final pitch for thier business. Further support will be given to students to develop a costing of the idea."
- Further Quantum Mechanics
This module builds on the quantum mechanics learned in the perquisites PHY250 and PHY251. The Heisenberg matrix formulation of the theory is developed from the Schrodinger wave picture. Approximately methods (perturbation theory and variational method) are derived and applied. Methods for solving time dependent problems are developed. Problems involving magnetic fields and spin are treated. Many particle wavefunctions for fermions and bosons are introduced.10 credits
- Semiconductor Physics and Technology
This module builds on the core solid state physics modules to provide an introduction to semiconductor electronic and opto-electronic devices and modern developments in crystal growth to produce low dimensional semiconductor structures (quantum wells, wires and dots). Band structure engineering, the main physical properties and a number of applications of low dimensional semiconductor structures are covered.10 credits
- Physical Computing
Digital circuits underpin our modern lives, including the acquisition and processing of data for science. In this course we will study the fundamental building blocks of digital processing circuits and computers. We will learn to describe circuits using the language VHDL, and how to program computers using the hardware-oriented high level language C. We will build interesting and useful digital architectures, and apply the skills we have acquired in laboratory exercises.10 credits
Is anybody out there? In this module we explore how we hope to find alien life in the near future and discuss what this might be like and where we should be looking. We critically examine ideas about the frequency of life, advanced life, and technological civilisations in the universe.10 credits
- Mathematical Physics
Linear algebra: matrices and vectors; eigenvalue problems; matrix diagonalisation; vector spaces; transformation of basis; rotation matrices; tensors; Lie groups; Noether's theorem. Complex analysis: analytic functions; contour integration; Cauchy theorem; Taylor and Laurent series; residue theorem; application to evaluating integrals; Kronig-Kramers relations; conformal mapping; application to solving Laplace's equation.10 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
Learning and assessment
You'll learn through lectures, small group tutorials, programming classes, practical sessions in the lab and research projects.
You will be assessed through a portfolio of problem sets, lab work and other material, as well as exams, essays, lab reports and presentations.
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including Maths and Physics
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
including Maths and Physics
A Levels + additional qualifications | ABB, including Maths and Physics + B in a relevant EPQ ABB, including Maths and Physics + B in a relevant EPQ
International Baccalaureate | 34, with 6,5 in Higher Level Maths and Physics 33, with 5 in Higher Level Maths and Physics
BTEC | Not accepted Not accepted
Scottish Highers + 2 Advanced Highers | AAABB + AB in Maths and Physics AABBB + AB in Maths and Physics
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AA in Maths and Physics B + AB in Maths and Physics
Access to HE Diploma | Access to HE Diploma in science: 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 credits at Distinction (all in Maths and Physics units) and 9 credits at Merit Access to HE Diploma in science: 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 credits at Distinction (all in Maths and Physics units) and 15 credits at Merit
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
Students must have passed the practical element of any science A Level taken
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Scientists in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are working on topics such as how to build a quantum computer, the search for dark matter and ways to combat antimicrobial resistance. They run experiments on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and help to map the universe using the Hubble Space Telescope. They’ll guide you through the key topics in physics and give you a huge range of optional modules to choose from.
The department is based in the Hicks Building, which has recently refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories with all the equipment you need for your physics and astronomy training, as well as classrooms, lecture theatres, computer rooms and social spaces for our students.
There are also telescopes and a solar technology testbed on the roof, state-of-the-art laboratories for building super-resolution microscopes and analysing 2D materials, and the UK’s first Quantum Information Laboratory, where students can study the fundamental science behind the next technological revolution. It’s right next door to the Students' Union, and just down the road from the 24/7 library facilities at the Information Commons and the Diamond.
Our students are trained in newly refurbished teaching laboratories and can access a range of specialist technologies, from the telescopes on our roof to our state-of-the-art Quantum Information Laboratory.
In their final year, MPhys students are based in a specialist research laboratory where scientists are studying technologies such as 2D materials, photovoltaic devices and advanced microscopy tools.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A top 100 university 2022
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Research Excellence Framework 2014
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Our physics students develop numerical, problem solving and data analysis skills that are useful in many graduate jobs, including computer programming, software engineering, data science, and research and development into new products and services. Their expertise can be applied to many of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, from developing renewable energy technologies and improving medical treatments to creating quantum telecommunications systems and exploring outer space.
Students who want to work as a physics researcher often do a PhD, which can lead to a career at a top university or a major international research facility such as CERN.
The University of Sheffield is part of the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy. This partnership of university physics departments and technical industries can set up collaborations between our students and industrial partners through internships, year in industry placements, final year projects and careers activities. WRIPA also organises the UK’s largest physics recruitment fair, where our students can meet potential employers.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.
The University of Sheffield’s Experience Sheffield Scholarships includes a number of scholarships that are guaranteed to go to students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Apply for this course
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The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.