Overview of the undergraduate studies
Overview of the Faculty of Science
Since its founding as a core College of Science and Engineering, Kyoto Imperial University, in 1897, the Faculty has always aimed to have a free and unique environment by providing the broadest possible education. The Faculty, which consists of the School of Science only, offers various research and education opportunities. Since it may be difficult for applicants to settle on a major at the time of application, we allow students to strengthen their expertise and find their best way forward while learning after entering the Faculty.
The courses of the Faculty of Science are categorized into general education, basic, and advanced courses. In the first and second years of four-year study at university, students mainly take a wide range of general education and basic courses. There are also “omnibus-style” lectures, in which cutting edge ideas and the future potential of certain research fields and related academic areas of the Faculty are described.
Students in the third and fourth years mainly take advanced courses. At the end of the second year and in order to develop their expertise, students register in one of the following five majors: Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astrophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Chemistry, and Biological Sciences. They learn and focus on one particular field and related areas, with the aim of getting exposed to research in this domain.
In the fourth year, students engage in one of the following “thematic research project”: Mathematical Science subject research (Mathematics), Physics and Astrophysics subject research (Physics, Astrophysics), Earth and Planetary Science subject research (Geophysics, Geology and Mineralogy), Chemistry subject research (Chemistry), and Biological Science subject research (Zoology, Botany, Biophysics). This year is extremely important because students can experience research in individual fields on a particular topic, and thus each student has to select at least one topic.
As shown by the education philosophy to enhance research qualifications, 80% of undergraduate students move on to graduate studies, and more than 100 PhD degrees are conferred every year. After graduation, about 10% of students find employment in private companies and engage in professional or engineering occupations.
Overview of Majors
The Mathematical Sciences curriculum in the Faculty of Science has three separate roles. Firstly, it provides service courses for all students of the Faculty of Science. Secondly, it provides courses for students who want to specialize in field that requires mathematics, and finally, it serves students who specialize in mathematics.
In the first year, calculus and linear algebra are offered at the university-wide level. These courses are intended for all students of the Faculty of Science, deepen and broaden mathematics taught up to the high school while strengthening theoretical foundations. The foundations of modern mathematics are taught in order to enable the conceptual leap from high school level mathematics to university level mathematics.
In the second year, the following courses (lectures and exercise) are offered: vector analysis, ordinary differential equations, Jordan standard forms, sets and logic, function theory, group theory, geometry of manifolds in Euclidean space, but also applied mathematics courses such as: basics of numerical computation and introduction to nonlinear analysis. Among these courses, vector analysis, ordinary differential equations and function theory and nonlinear analysis are highly recommended not only for students who want to pursue mathematical studies, but also for those who need Mathematical Sciences in their future major, e.g. Physics and Astrophysics. In addition, since research level mathematics is done almost exclusively in English nowadays, the Honors Mathematics A and B classes provide an opportunity for highly motivated students to study mathematics in English at an early stage of their studies through challenges and problems on advanced topics.
The third year courses are aimed at students majoring in Mathematical Sciences. Each course consists in a lecture part and an exercise part. In algebra, ring theory, field theory. In geometry: manifolds and (co)homology. In analysis: measure theory, Fourier analysis, functional analysis, differential equation theory, and complex function theory. On the applied side, the following courses are also offered: nonlinear analysis, numerical analysis, computer science, as well as actuarial mathematics, which is an important application of probability and statistics. Upon completing the curriculum up to the third year, a student is expected to have acquired mathematical knowledge of the basis, as well as an overview of a wide range of fields.
In the fourth year, for the purpose of graduating, students focus on “Mathematical Thematic Research” (4th year seminar). In each research subject, the instructor in charge sets multiple themes and students work on one of the themes during the year. Mathematical Thematic Research accommodates students majoring in Mathematical Sciences, who split in small groups, and study in seminar style. They are supervised by faculty members and deepen their knowledge of specialized mathematics. In addition to Mathematical Thematic Research, other advanced mathematics lectures are also offered, including: number theory, algebraic geometry, differential geometry, topology, probability theory, partial differential equations.
The majority of graduates of mathematical sciences go to the graduate school of science in Kyoto University. Some students go to the graduate school just after completing the third year.
Physics and Astrophysics
Physics and Astrophysics is broadly divided into two fields: physics and astrophysics. The physics field is further divided into solid state physics and nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, and astrophysics.
Solids, including metals, semiconductors, magnetic materials, and superconductors; and liquids, such as fluids, plasma, soft matter, and organisms, are different states of atomic or molecular aggregates. The field of condensed matter examines the properties of these substances and how these can be controlled under various conditions, as one of most basic disciplines supporting modern civilization. New states of substances have been discovered through development of advanced experimental and mathematical methods to explore the microworld. Atoms can be controlled with high accuracy by lasers, and atoms and substances at very low temperature are governed by quantum mechanics. The phenomena observed in these circumstances are the reservoir of modern physics, while self-organizing phenomena under nonequilibrium conditions is an interdisciplinary field related to life science.
The field of nuclear, particle, and space physics examines the phenomena and rules of the submicroscopic physical world, which is smaller than an atom. This knowledge is then used to study the structure and phenomena of the maximal world: space. In addition to theoretical work, experimental research is performed using systems such as accelerators to study the submicroscopic world of nuclear and particle physics. In space physics, observation of space radiation is performed. Many experiments are performed as megascience, and undergraduates can learn basic techniques while understanding the basics of megascience.
The research field of astronomy and astrophysics encompasses observational and theoretical studies of a rich variety of fascinating topics such as the Sun, stars, planetary systems, interstellar matter, galaxies and cosmological large-scale structures. In addition to deciphering the origins and underlying mechanisms of phenomena observed at individual objects, astrophysicists also seek to elucidate the fundamental physical laws that govern the Universe and its evolution.
In the third year, students participate in laboratory work, in addition to lectures, and those in the fourth year take an advanced course (thematic research project). This course involves active learning, in which small groups of instructors and students have discussions and perform observations and calculations on a representative topic from the above fields. The laboratory work addresses basic topics related to cutting-edge research, and the advanced course allows individual students to begin to experience this research directly.
Earth and Planetary Sciences
The Major of Earth and Planetary Sciences includes two departments: “Geophysics” and “Geology and Mineralogy”. The Department of Geophysics is structured in several research groups. The Solid Earth Geophysics group conducts education and research in the fields of Geodesy, the science of measuring the geometric shape and the gravity of the Earth and examining the movement of the Earth’s crust; Active Tectonics, concerned with the processes of crustal deformation induced by plate motion and the mechanics of fault zones, and Seismology, in which the analysis of seismic waves and computer simulations are used to elucidate earthquake source physics and the internal structure of the Earth. The Hydrosphere Geophysics group is concerned with the study of Physical Oceanography and Hydrology, in which water circulation processes taking place in the ocean and on land and their mechanisms are investigated. The Atmospheric Physics group conducts education and research in the fields of Meteorology, in which the general circulation of the atmosphere and its driving mechanisms are examined; and Climate Physics, which is concerned with the investigation of long-term changes of the climate system. The Solar-Planetary Electromagnetism group is concerned with the electromagnetic nature of the Earth and planets as well as the structure and geophysical changes taking place in the upper atmosphere, magnetosphere and interplanetary space.
In the Department of Geology and Mineralogy, education and research are offered on 1) material science of substances composing the Earth and planets, 2) the relationship between crustal tectonics and processes in deeper regions of the Earth, and 3) the history of interactions of the earth-surface biosphere and surrounding hydrosphere/atmosphere/cosmic environments. For both departments, a broad curriculum is offered to allow students to gradually strengthen their expertise. In addition to lectures, students perform field work and laboratory experiments using various devices and computer-based experiments in the third year, and thematic research project on a specific topic in the fourth year. Through such education and research we aim to develop graduates with a deep understanding of the geophysical and geological processes taking place on Earth and other planets.
Chemistry is a highly diverse field of materials science with a common characteristic of research on the “state, nature and change of a substance.” That is, chemistry is an academic discipline that treats every material in the natural world, including atoms, molecules, organic and/or inorganic materials, biological organisms, and space, etc., i.e., all the materials containing atoms and molecules. Therefore, students studying Chemistry will learn a wide range of academic fields, including Physics and Astrophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Biological Sciences, and composite areas. Our overriding goal in undergraduate education is to provide basic knowledge of material sciences from a wide perspective. Students in Chemistry will obtain balanced basic academic skills that are desirable for any future research fields, through a wide range of theoretical and experimental courses in material science. This is a feature of Chemistry that differs from other fields in the Faculty.
Students in the third year mainly learn a group of basic subjects, including Quantum Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry. Exercises and experiments in these subjects are offered to develop basic knowledge of material science and to understand its essential qualities through practice. Advanced courses are also offered, including Theoretical/Physical Chemistry, Inorganic/Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. In the third and fourth years, students select several advanced courses depending on individual interest in research fields, to slowly strengthen their expertise while still learning basic subjects. In the fourth year, students are associated with a research laboratory in a theoretical or experimental area. This allows learning of approaches to thinking about and performing research in material science under direct instructions of staff members and to experience advanced and cutting-edge researches.
Biological Sciences involves academic study of life phenomena from multiple perspectives, and we divide this area into three fields: Zoology, Botany, and Biophysics. Education is designed so that students can understand this wide range of academic fields.
In Zoology, lectures are given on animal systematics, ethology, animal ecology, zoogenesis, and environment-responsive genetics, in addition to those on anthropology regarding the origins, evolution, and diversity of human beings. In Botany, courses on Plant Systematics, Plant Physiology, Plant Molecular Biology, and Plant Molecular Genetics are provided. In addition, exercises are also used to allow students to understand the details of the courses. Students also participate in marine biology with laboratory & field work and in field work in biological sciences for on-site learning, while working with actual organisms. Biophysics aims to understand life phenomena based on the structure and function of molecules and of nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids in cells. For this area, courses on Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics, Structural Biology, Cellular Biology, and Molecular Signaling in Biological Systems are offered. Lectures are also given on the functions of the central nervous system at the molecular and cellular levels.
Since lectures and exercises cover various fields in these advanced courses, students can choose lectures depending on individual interest. Students in the fourth year can select one of 23 research groups, again based on their particular interest, in Advanced Studies (Biological Sciences), and each student will be associated with a research laboratory. This allows students to deepen their understanding of biological sciences under direct instructions from advisors and graduate students, while experiencing research in this field.
In the Biological Sciences program, education is provided to foster human resources with appropriate expertise depending on individual interest, as well as to expose students to a wide range of knowledge beyond their particular expertise.