Physics & The Grand Challenges of Today

Unit code: UCIL29002
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Physics and Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit?: Y




Do you wish you had a better understanding of the scientific issues behind some of today’s grand challenges, such as climate change, future energy needs, the nuclear debate and the origin and fate of the Universe? If so, this course is for you. You will learn about a wide range of topics including quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, nuclear physics and radioactivity, medical imaging, the working of the Earth’s climate and astronomy and cosmology. Very little existing scientific knowledge will be assumed, nothing beyond GCSE Science, and we will concentrate on discussion of concepts, with little use of mathematics.

The course will be taught by a team of academic staff from the School of Physics and Astronomy and will include guest lectures given by the well known TV presenters Professor Brian Cox, Dr Tim O’Brien and Professor Jeff Forshaw. 

The course will also include fortnightly ‘Question Time’ sessions where you will be able to quiz the course team about topics from the course, or indeed about anything from Physics that particularly interests you. 

Assessment methods

  • Other - 50%
  • Written exam - 50%

Assessment Further Information

Coursework: Weekly summative assessments will comprise short online assignments possibly using a commercial e-learning system, such as, for example MasteringPhysics. These will be used formatively (i) to enable you to check your understanding as the unit progresses and (ii) to inform the teaching using the Just-in-Time (JiTT) approach; Virtual lab experiments. End of Unit: Online examination consisting of MCQs and short questions requiring short essay style answers (e.g. executive summaries). The essay style questions will assess your ability to draw connections between different topic areas and synthesise the concepts and issues taught on the course.

Study hours

  • Independent study hours - 0 hours

Teaching staff

Marion Birch - Unit coordinator

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