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MSc by Research Theoretical Physics / Overview

Year of entry: 2020

Degree awarded
MSc by Research
12 Months (Full-Time)
Entry requirements

The standard academic entry requirement for a Masters research programme will be a Lower Second UK Honours degree, or international equivalent, in a relevant science or engineering discipline.

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Programme options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning
MSc by Research Y Y N N

Programme description

Work on theoretical physics is concentrated in four main areas: complex systems, quantum descriptions of matter and its interactions with light, nuclear physics, and particle physics. Brief summaries of these are given below; more information can be found on our research page and on the webpages for each group.

  • Statistical Mechanics and Complex Systems

The group works on applications of statistical mechanics to questions in biology, the social sciences, and medicine. Examples include the stability of eco-systems, the spread of epidemics, pattern formation in developmental biology, topics in evolutionary game theory, the modelling of cancer and problems in medical statistics. The common feature these problems share is that they involve many entities interacting together and producing complex behaviour. Our approach is driven by physics ideas, and we use tools such as stochastic differential equations, path integrals and master equations, Bayesian statistics and maximum likelihood methods, combined with algorithms for fast numerical simulations. Postgraduate projects can focus on applications or on fundamental aspects of models of complex systems. PhD projects often involve collaboration with national and international partners across disciplines.

  • Quantum Theory of Light and Matter

The group working on Quantum Theory of Light and Matter applies a diverse array of tools, including QFT methods and master equations, to a broad range of topics. These include: the study of quantum materials, topological order and superconductivity, theories of quantum transport, strongly-coupled non-equilibrium phenomena, quantum thermodynamics, quantum noise, and open quantum systems. Close connections to experimental groups in the Department and the National Graphene Institute helps with development of these theories.

  • Nuclear Theory

The research interests of the Nuclear Theory Group range from low-energy nuclear structure to the frontier where nuclear and particle physics overlap. We focus on `fundamental' approaches to nuclear physics, linking it to quantum chromodynamics, and have particular expertise in the areas of effective field theory and microscopic many-body theory. Current particular interest include: the responses of nucleons and light nuclei to external fields (being probed with Compton scattering in experiments at Mainz and Duke Universities), and the origins of nuclear forces.

  • Particle Theory

The fundamental properties of matter are studied by the theory members of the Particle Physics Group. The Group has particular expertise in almost all aspects of Collider Physics phenomenology, Quantum Chromodynamics, in the Physics of the Early Universe, in Higgs and Neutrino Physics and in Physics Beyond the Standard Model. Our projects are often focused on aspects of theoretical physics that can be tested in ongoing or future experiments on colliders and non-accelerator physics, and in cosmological and astrophysical observations. The connections between particle physics and cosmology are also being explored in collaboration with members of the Jodrell Bank Observatory for Astrophysics.

You can also download our   Postgraduate Project Booklet  (PDF document, 2.5Mb) which contains details of research projects available within the Department. 

The postgraduate research environment is well funded and world-class as demonstrated by our ranking in REF2014.  Supervision is provided by academic staff, who are leaders in their fields, with independent pastoral back-up. Transferable skills training is available and there are some department teaching opportunities.


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2020, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MSc by Research (full-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): £8,500
    International students (per annum): £25,000
  • MSc by Research (part-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): £4,250
    International students (per annum): £12,500

Please note for the majority of projects where experimentation requires further resource: higher fee bands (where quoted) will be charged rather than the base rate for supervision, administration and computational costs. The fees quoted above will be fully inclusive and, therefore, you will not be required to pay any additional bench fees or administration costs.

All fees for entry will be subject to yearly review and incremental rises per annum are also likely over the duration of the course for UK/EU students (fees are typically fixed for International students, for the course duration at the year of entry). For general fees information please visit: postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your project.

Contact details

Department of Physics & Astronomy
Contact name
Recruitment and Admissions Office
+44 (0) 161 306 3673

Our internationally-renowned expertise across the School of Natural Sciences informs research led teaching with strong collaboration across disciplines, unlocking new and exciting fields and translating science into reality.  Our multidisciplinary learning and research activities advance the boundaries of science for the wider benefit of society, inspiring students to promote positive change through educating future leaders in the true fundamentals of science. Find out more about Science and Engineering at Manchester .

Programmes in related subject areas

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