At the University of Salford, the traditional physics degree course has been transformed in order to combine a high quality teaching programme with activities that give students a greater understanding of physics in the workplace and where their degree could take them.
Salford has taken much of its learning from work by the IOP that revealed that traditional degrees often do not emphasise the varied career options open to a physicist (see Repackaging Physics). In response, Salford have modified the structure of their course so that from the beginning of the degree, students are encouraged to think about their career directions The course has established links to employers by setting up an industry board, who offer advice and are actively involved in some of the modules.
Salford have also refined the marketing strategy for their degree, emphasising to prospective students the range of careers a physics degree can lead to.
New elements of the Degree
- Central to Year One is the ‘Careers and Frontiers’ module featuring lectures on employability skills, talks from industrialists and problem-based learning group lab work.
- Later years will incorporate practical work that solves real industrial problems.
- Salford is also investigating how to maximise the number of students who undertake work experience in industry, whether for a whole year or for shorter placements.
- The new degree began in September 2010. Despite a soft role out of the course, application numbers were up 80% on the previous year and final enrollment numbers were up by 77%.
- Application numbers for the 2011-2012 year have increased 69% on the 2010-2011 figure, compared to the 32% rise in applications to Salford across all disciplines.
Applied Physics at Portsmouth
The IOP and HE STEM Programme are also helping the University of Portsmouth to develop their Applied Physics degree. This new course also has an emphasis on practical skills learned and then applied throughout the course to real problems. There is industrial input into every aspect of the design of the problems, whether they are projects, practical work or classroom-based activity.