Honour School of Physics and Philosophy

A

In the following ‘the Physics Course Handbook’ refers to the Physics Undergraduate Handbook, published annually at the start of Michaelmas Term by the faculty of Physics. The Physics and Philosophy Course Handbook is published annually at the start of Michaelmas Term by the Faculty of Philosophy.

  • 1. All candidates shall be examined in Physics and in Philosophy.

  • 2. No candidate shall be admitted to examination in this school unless he or she has either passed or been exempted from the First Public Examination.

  • 3.

    • (a) The examination in Physics and Philosophy shall consist of three parts: Part A, Part B, and Part C.

    • (b) Parts A, B, and C shall be taken at times not less than three, six, and nine terms, respectively, after passing or being exempted from the First Public Examination.

  • 4.

    • (a) In order to proceed to Part C a minimum standard of achievement in either Part A in physics or in Part B in philosophy may be required, as determined by the Faculty of Physics or the Faculty of Philosophy from time to time. Any such requirement shall be published in the Physics and Philosophy Course Handbook not later than the beginning of the Michaelmas Full Term of the academic year preceding the year of the Part A examination. Names of those satisfying the requirement shall be published by the Examiners.

    • (b) A candidate who obtains only a Pass or fails to satisfy the Examiners in Part C may enter again for Part C on at most one subsequent occasion; Parts A and B shall be entered on one occasion only.

    • (c) A candidate in the final year of the four-year course, adjudged worthy of Honours in both Parts A and B together, but who does not enter Part C, or who fails to obtain Honours in Part C, is permitted to supplicate for the Honours degree of Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Philosophy with the classification obtained in Parts A and B together; provided that no such candidate may later enter or re-enter the Part C year or supplicate for the degree of Master of Physics and Philosophy; and provided in each case that the candidate has fulfilled all the conditions for admission to a degree of the University.

    • (d) A candidate who is adjudged worthy of Honours on Parts A and B together, and on Part C, may supplicate for the degree of Master of Physics and Philosophy provided that the candidate has fulfilled all the conditions for admission to a degree of the University.

  • 5. The examination in this school shall be under the joint supervision of the Board of the Faculty of Philosophy and the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Board, which shall appoint a standing joint committee to make regulations concerning it, subject in all cases to clauses 1-4 above.

  • 6.

    • (a) The examiners for Physics shall be such of the Public Examiners in Physics in the Honour School of Physics as may be required; those for Philosophy shall be nominated by a committee of which three elected members shall be appointed by the Board of the Faculty of Philosophy.

    • (b) It shall be the duty of the Chair of the Public Examiners in Physics in the Honour School of Physics to designate such of their number as may be required for Physics and Philosophy, and when this has been done and the Examiners for Philosophy have been nominated, the number of the Examiners in Physics and Philosophy shall be deemed to be complete.

Transfer to the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics

  • 7. Subject to the regulations for the Honour School in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, candidates on the four-year course in Physics and Philosophy may apply to the Supervisory Committee for Mathematics and Physics to transfer, after their Part B examination, to the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics for their Part C examination. Such a candidate will need to achieve at least an upper second class or higher at the end of Part B, and be accepted by the Supervisory Committee for Mathematics and Physics under the procedures referred to in the regulations for the Master of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics and set out in the course handbook for that degree. Acceptance is not automatic. As specified in the regulations for that degree, Part C in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics must be taken in the academic year following the candidate's Part B examination, and on successful completion of Part C of the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics candidates will be awarded the Master of Mathematics and Physics in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics.

  • 8. The Handbook for Mathematical and Theoretical Physics shall set out the options that candidates should follow to maximize their chances of being accepted for transfer to Mathematical and Theoretical Physics for their Part C examination. This Handbook shall be available by the start of Michaelmas Term in the year in which a candidate starts Part A in Mathematics.

  • 9. A candidate who has transferred from the Honour School of Physics and Philosophy to the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics for their Part C examination in accordance with cl.9 above is permitted transfer to the Honour School of Physics and Philosophy for their Part C examination up to the end of Week 4 of the Michaelmas Term in which he or she first registered for Part C in the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, so long as that candidate has not opted to supplicate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Philosophy under the regulations for the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics.

  • 10. The regulations for the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics set out how the results obtained in Parts A and B in the Honour School of Physics and Philosophy are published for candidates who transfer to the Honour School of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics for their Part C examination.

B

  • 1. For the Physics papers, the Examiners will permit the use of any hand-held calculator subject to the conditions set out under the heading ‘Use of calculators in examinations’ in the Regulations concerning the Conduct of University Examinations and further elaborated in the Physics Course Handbook, save that candidates taking part in an exchange scheme shall be subject to the provisions of the host institution in this regard.

  • 2. The requirements for Parts A, B, and C are specified in the regulations for Parts A, B, and C.

  • 3. The highest honours can be obtained by excellence either in Physics or Philosophy, providing that adequate knowledge is shown in the other subject areas. An honours classification will be awarded only if performance in both Physics and Philosophy is of honours standard in Parts A and B taken together, or in Part C.

Part A

Physics

Candidates are required to

  • (i) offer three written papers on Fundamental Principles of Physics, and

  • (ii) submit to the Examiners such evidence as they require of the successful completion of practical work normally pursued during the three terms preceding the examination.

The titles of the written papers are given below. Their syllabuses shall be approved by the Faculty of Physics and shall be published in the Physics Course Handbook not later than the beginning of Michaelmas Full Term for the examination three terms thence.

Fundamental Principles of Physics:

  • A1: Thermal Physics

  • A2P: Electromagnetism

  • A3: Quantum Physics

[For students starting from MT 2015: Candidates who have successfully completed the First Public Examination in Physics are exempted from Paper A2P: Electromagnetism. Candidates who have successfully completed the practical requirements for the First Public Examination in Physics are deemed to have satisfied the practical requirements given under (ii) above.]

Part B

Candidates are required to offer either (a) three subjects in Physics (each having the weight of half a paper) and four subjects in Philosophy (each having the weight of a full paper), or (b) five subjects in Physics (each having the weight of half a paper) and three subjects in Philosophy (each having the weight of a full paper).

Candidates for Part B must give to the Registrar notice of their choice of papers not later than Friday in the eighth week of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding that part of the examination.

Candidates may choose their three or five subjects from the following list:

  • Paper B1. Flows, Fluctuations and Complexity

  • Paper B2. Symmetry and Relativity

  • Paper B3. Quantum, Atomic and Molecular Physics

  • Paper B4. Sub-Atomic Physics

  • Paper B5. General Relativity and Cosmology

  • Paper B6. Condensed-Matter Physics

  • Paper B7. Classical Mechanics

Candidates must choose at least two of subjects B2, B5, and B7.

The syllabuses for the above Physics subjects shall be approved by the Faculty of Physics and published in the Physics Course Handbook not later than the beginning of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding the examination.

Philosophy

Candidates are required to take (i) subject 101 or 102; (ii) one of subjects 106 and 124; and (iii) subject 120 as specified in the Regulations for Philosophy in all Honour Schools including Philosophy. Candidates who offer a fourth subject in Philosophy must select one from the list of subjects 101-122, [For students starting before MT 2016: 125, and 127] [For students starting from MT 2016: 125, 127, and 128] as specified in the Regulations for Philosophy in all Honour Schools including Philosophy, and in accordance with the General Regulations therein.

Part C

Candidates not on an exchange scheme shall offer a total of three units chosen in any combination from the lists for Physics and for Philosophy, or an approved collection of course options if taking part in an exchange scheme.

Candidates for Part C must give to the Registrar notice of their choice of written papers not later than Friday in the eighth week of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding that part of the examination, or, if taking part in an exchange scheme, shall have the proposed set of papers to be taken in the host institution approved by the standing joint committee by the beginning of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding that part of the examination.

A unit in Physics consists of either a written paper on a Major Option, or a project report on either advanced practical work or other advanced work, as specified for Part C of the Honour School of Physics. Candidates may be examined viva voce. A unit in Philosophy consists of one of the subjects 101-104, 107-122, 125, 127, [For students starting from MT 2016: 128,] and 180 as specified in the Regulations for Philosophy in all Honours Schools including Philosophy, or a Thesis as specified below. No subject in Philosophy may be offered in both Part B and Part C.

Each unit in Philosophy other than a Thesis shall be examined by a three-hour written paper together with an essay of at most 5,000 words, except 121 Advanced Philosophy of Physics, which shall be examined by two essays of at most 5,000 words each. No essay shall exceed this word limit, which includes all notes and appendices, but not the bibliography. The word count should be indicated on the front of the essay. There shall be a select bibliography or a list of sources. All essays must be typed in double spacing on one side of quarto or A4 paper, with footnotes rather than endnotes. Candidates should avoid any substantial repetition of material between examination scripts and examination essays. The topic for a Philosophy examination essay in a given subject can be any question set for the most recent examination of that subject in Honour Schools with Philosophy, with the exception of questions for Plato: Republic (115) and Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics (116) consisting of multiple passages for comment. Candidates offering Advanced Philosophy of Physics should not take essay titles from old papers, but should seek approval for both their essay titles. Candidates may apply for approval of other essay topics by writing to the Chair of the Board, c/o The Administrator, Philosophy Centre, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, giving the title he or she proposes, together with an explanation of the subject in about 100 words and enclosing a letter from their tutor attesting to the suitability of this topic for the candidate. Any such application must be received no later than Friday of the sixth week of the Hilary Term preceding the Part C examination for which the essay is to be submitted. Late applications will not be considered. Any such application shall be accepted or rejected by the Board within two weeks of its being received.

Each essay shall be the candidate's own work, though it should show knowledge of relevant literature in the subject and may include passages of quotation or paraphrase so long as these passages are clearly indicated as such and the source properly attributed. The candidate may discuss a first draft of the essay with his or her tutor for that subject. The amount of assistance the tutor may give shall be limited to what can be provided in one of the candidate's tutorials for their study of that subject. For each essay the candidate shall sign a statement to the effect that the essay is his or her own work and the tutor shall also sign a statement confirming that, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, this is so. These statements shall be placed in a sealed envelope bearing the candidate's examination number and the name of the subject for which the essay has been written, and presented with two copies of each essay. Each copy of an essay shall be identified only by the candidate's examination number and bear the name of the Philosophy subject for which the essay is being submitted and must be submitted not later than noon on Friday of the first week of the Trinity Full Term of the examination to the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, addressed to the Chair of the Examiners for Part C of the Final Honour School of Physics and Philosophy.

PHILOSOPHY THESIS

  • (a) Subject

    The subject of every thesis should fall within the scope of philosophy. The subject may but need not overlap any subject on which the candidate offers papers. Candidates should avoid substantial repetition in examination scripts or examination essays of material from their theses. No part of a Philosophy thesis submitted for Part C may include work submitted for this or any other degree. Every candidate shall submit through his or her college for approval by the Board of the Faculty of Philosophy the title he or she proposes, together with an explanation of the subject in about 100 words; and a letter of approval from his or her tutor, not earlier than the first day of Trinity Full Term of the year before that in which he or she is to be examined and not later than Friday of the fourth week of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding his or her examination. Applications for approval of subject should be directed to the Chair of the Board, c/o The Administrator, Philosophy Centre, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG. The Board shall decide as soon as possible whether or not to approve the title and shall advise the candidate immediately. No decision shall be deferred beyond the end of the fifth week of Michaelmas Full Term. If a candidate wishes to change the title of his or her thesis after a title has already been approved by the Board, he or she may apply for such permission to be granted by the Board. Applications should be directed to the Chair of the Board (if the application is made before the first day of Hilary Full Term preceding the examination). If later than the first day of Hilary Full Term preceding the examination application for change of title should be made to the Chair of Examiners for Part C of the Final Honour School of Physics and Philosophy.

  • (b) Authorship and origin

    Every thesis shall be the candidate's own work. A candidate's tutor may, however, discuss with the candidate the field of study, the sources available, and the method of presentation; the tutor may also read and comment on drafts. The amount of assistance the tutor may give is equivalent to the teaching of a normal paper. Every candidate shall sign a certificate to the effect that the thesis is his or her own work and the tutor shall countersign the certificate confirming, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, that this is so. This certificate shall be placed in a sealed envelope bearing the candidate's examination number presented together with the thesis. No thesis shall be accepted which has already been submitted for a degree of this or any other university, and the certificate shall also state that the thesis has not been so submitted. No thesis shall, however, be ineligible because it has been or is being submitted for any prize of this university.

  • (c) Length and format

    No thesis shall exceed 20,000 words, the limit to include all notes and appendices, but not including the bibliography; no person or body shall have authority to permit any excess. The word count should be indicated on the front of the thesis. There shall be a select bibliography or a list of sources. All theses must be typed in double spacing on one side of quarto or A4 paper, with any notes and references at the foot of each page. Two copies of the thesis shall be submitted to the examiners.

  • (d) Submission of thesis

    Every candidate shall submit two copies of their thesis, identified by the candidate's examination number only, not later than noon on Friday of the week before the Trinity Full Term of the examination to the Examination Schools, Oxford, addressed to the Chair of the Examiners for Part C of the Final Honour School of Physics and Philosophy.

EXCHANGE SCHEME

Each individual candidate taking part in a full-year exchange at a host institution approved by the University will provide a collated set of coursework to the standing joint committee. Each individual candidate will ensure that the host institution forwards a full transcript of the courses taken certified by the host institution. Each individual candidate will ensure that the host institution retains the examination papers and scripts for the approved courses undertaken and that these are submitted under seal, together with the collated coursework and transcript of courses taken, to the Chair of Examiners, Honour School of Physics and Philosophy, c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford by noon on Friday of the sixth week of Trinity Term.