Spotlight on: Postgrad Study in Physics

After completing an undergraduate degree in a science based or related discipline, it is common for students to go on to further study, undertaking a postgraduate degree in a more specific field. This not only gives them the chance to expand their knowledge and specialise in a particular subject within their discipline, making them more prepared and better equipped for future job roles and careers, it also enhances their undergraduate degree, gives them broader career options and helps them to significantly stand out and be more competitive amongst an ever increasing number of similarly qualified grads looking for work fresh out of University.

On successfully finishing a Masters degree, PhD research and training geared towards a more specific career route, subject field or scientific domain is then an option, and one that is especially favoured by those looking to go into teaching Physics, particularly in a higher education setting. The postgraduate world of Physics is multi-faceted and offers potential students a wide window of opportunity and choice. Whatever your interests are and wherever your strengths lie, the extensive range of Masters and PhD programmes available from a whole host of world renowned institutions across the UK will no doubt suit your requirements and provide a course that is right for you and your career path.

Taught Masters Degrees in Physics are offered by many Universities who employ only the very best, most knowledgeable and distinguished scientists. As such, courses are are not abundant, and areas of study are typically specific and niche, though it is possible to do a general research MSc in Physics, for example at the world renowned Imperial College London. Due to there being a small number of suitably qualified teachers available, there are also very limited places available on each course due to the nature of the subject and the level of attention needed and level of intensive and in depth training that is provided for each individual student.

MSc in Nanoscience and Functional Nanomaterials, offered by Bristol University, is one example of the kind of taught postgrad Physics programs that are available in some of the most respected schools in the UK, while Universities such as Warwick have a larger Physics department that offers prospective postgrads a standard MA followed by an MSc or PHd in their choice of research topic, with areas including Condensed Matter Physics, Medical and Bio-physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics. An MSc is a full time study program that seldom lasts more than 12 months in duration. A full, comprehensive list of programs available can be found here .

There are several opportunities to undergo a lengthier MPhil or PhD in Physics with some of the top Universities in the world, like King's College London, Oxford, Imperial College London and UCL. Admissions are strict and departments are rightfully selective with who they admit to any programme, and having a clear research aim and thesis concept before applying is essential. Examples of research topics at UCL include Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Positron Physics and Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, with examples of research carried out in Physics PhD programs at King's College London ranging from biological cell imaging and cosmology to biomolecules and nanostructures. Programs at PhD level come with exceptional tutoring and a constant support system.

The main problem postgraduate students typically have, and what holds so many back from applying for PHds or any kind of postgrad study, is financing programs such as these which require full time hours of study to excel in. While it is possible to work part time and do intensive postgrad study, it isn't ideal, and balancing the two often proves difficult. Though not easy to come by, scholarships and funding are both available to assist with this, details of which can be found in our fees and funding section.

Useful Links

Our ‘Spotlight On’ series

Calculating your return on a masters degree

Succeed as a postgrad student

Choosing your postgrad program

Top 10 Astrophysics Masters Courses In The UK & Europe

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