Profile of the Programme

First Year

The first year of the study programme coincides to a great extent with the mathematics education, since mathematics plays a crucial role in what is called 'the modelling of the physical reality'. Mathematics is the language which is used to formally describe physical phenomena. The study of physics and astronomy consequently requires applied mathematics. During the first year, mathemathics takes up 3 courses in the programme: "analysis I and II" and "linear algebra and geometry I". Apart from these courses, the programme includes various courses on basic physics. In "mechanics", the physics of Newton is set up, and an introduction to Einstein's theory of relativity is studied, together with other notions which are essential in astronomy, such as gravitation. "Electricity and magnetism" gives an overview of the experimental basis and the technological implications of this field of physics, together with a theoretically more fundamental illustration of an unification theory, so important in modern physics. This course is also the basis of the study of emission and absorption of radiation by matter, which is essential in spectroscopy, especially in astrophysics. In the course "waves and optics" the electromagnetic waves and the sources of electromagnetic radiation are examined, and their relevance in cosmology and quantum physics. In this course, a review is given of the optical instruments, in particular telescopes and prisms used in spectroscopy. The role of interference and diffraction, in particular in astronomical applications is discussed. Interferometer techniques are more and more relevant in astronomy, for instance in the search for extrasolar planets, i.e. planets external to our solar system, orbiting around other stars. "Introduction to theoretical physics" offers a beautiful synthesis between mathematics and physics, for instance in the formal description of the so called Kepler problem, the motion of a planet about its star. The practical aspect of physics is represented in the course "physics laboratory 1" where practical experimenting skills, careful measuring and scientific reporting are taught. The first year also includes a programming course, giving the fundamentals in informatics required in practical problems. Finally, the "chemistry" course offers the required basic knowledge for a physicist to understand chemical concepts and processes.

Second Year

From the second year of the study programme onwards, the emphasis on physics and astronomy is bigger than in the first year, even in the related courses. In "mathematical methods in physics" really useful mathematical techniques are studied, rather than aspects which may be interesting for mathematicians, but which are not so useful for the bachelor in physics and astronomy. In “statistics and data processing" several examples in physics and astronomy are given, yielding a deeper insight in "physics laboratory 2". The basis of quantum mechanics is founded, as a preparation for the courses on quantum mechanics later on in the programme. The course "introduction to astronomy" gives a broad review of the material systems relevant in present astronomy. In the second semester, "thermal physics" introduces several thermodynamical notions useful in physics and astronomy, e.g. entropy, together with selected applications. "Material physics" and "electromagnetism" bring more basic physics. "Extragalactic astronomy" further deepens the knowledge of astronomy. The second year also provides the students an opportunity to choose a course among these of the other bachelors educations organised at Ghent University. These courses are preferably selected from the courses offered by Faculty of Science and/or Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.

Third Year

The third year of the study programme lays the foundation for the scientific research; in theoretical physics ("quantum mechanics 2", "theory of relativity"); in experimental physics ("statistical physics 1", "introduction to atomic and molecular physics", "solid state physics", "subatomic physics 1") ; or in astronomy ("physics of galaxies"). Students can also choose 12 credit units elective courses from a list of courses in physics and astronomy or from courses organised by the Faculty of Science or Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at UGent. During the second semester the student has to work out a project in a domain of physics of his/her choice: this is the so-called "bachelorproject" and is considered the icing on the cake of the bachelor programme. The student proves that he/she can conduct scientific work - under supervision- and can report in a structured way, both orally and verbally.