Physics and Astronomy MPhil/PhD

Research areas:

Our research extends over all the mainstream branches of physics and astronomy, and is organised into five major groups:
  • Astrophysics and atmospheric physics (Astro)
  • Atomic, molecular, optical and positron physics (AMMOPP)
  • Biological Physics (BioP)
  • Condensed matter and materials physics (CMMP)
  • High energy particle physics (HEP).
Many members of the Condensed Matter and Materials Physics group are also members of the interdisciplinary London Centre for Nanotechnology, housed next to the department. Members of the Biological Physics group are also generally part of the AMMOPP or CMMP groups. In addition, some researchers participate in UCL-wide groupings such as the Thomas Young Centre, the Centre for Materials Research, the Centre for Cosmic Chemistry and Physics, the UCL Institute of Origins and the UCL-Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Science. These networks provide a breadth of opportunity for students to engage in specialised research.

IRIS logo

Visit the IRIS research portal to learn more about researchers' activities, research groups, research centres and interdisciplinary networks across the whole of UCL.

IRIS department: Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK integrated Master’s (MSci or MPhys) degree in a relevant discipline, or an undergraduate degree followed by an MSc in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. An upper second- or first-class UK Bachelor’s or equivalent may be considered in special circumstances.

English level expected: Standard


Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.


  • UK/EU Full-time: £4,500
  • UK/EU Part-time: £2,250
  • Overseas Full-time: £20,900
  • Overseas Part-time: £10,450


The department offers dedicated project studentships for particular research fields, as well as studentships from the UK research councils. There are also some trust funds dedicated to support research in particular areas and a limited number of departmental studentships.

Scholarships available for this department

Summer Scholarship in Condensed Matter Physics

The Scholarships are awarded to conduct a 10 week research project in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics over the summer vacation period.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Funding offered by UCL and the China Scholarships Council (CSC) aims to expand the educational, cultural and technological cooperation between the UK and China.

Full details of funding opportunities can be found on the UCL Scholarships website


Our recent MPhil/PhD graduates have often chosen to stay within academia as postdoctoral researchers at institutions at a variety of locations, both within and outside the UK, including some of the post prestigious institutions worldwide. Some have become researchers at related organisations such as national laboratories, or moved into industrial research. A significant number have also begun work in the financial sector for influential companies such as Deutsche Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers and some into software research and development.

Top career destinations for this programme

  • Harvard University, Post Doctoral Fellow, 2011
  • University of Vienna, Post Doctoral Researcher, 2011
  • Smitsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, 2011
  • BAE Systems Detica, Cunsultant, 2011
  • Investment Broker, 2009


A PhD in Physics provides a wide variety of high-quality training in areas which are in great demand by future employers. A high degree of mathematical ability is always required and students learn how to apply this in innovative ways, modelling realistic physical systems. An advanced level of computer literacy, including programming in common languages, is frequently developed. Many doctorates also involve a significant degree of "hands-on" work, such as building, repairing and maintaining equipment. This variety of disparate skills leads to Physics PhD students being in particular demand and finding employment in many different areas of work within and outside the academic world.


Physics is unique in being the degree in which many PhD students work with large international collaborations automatically bringing them into frequent contact with other researchers from around the world and companies which work directly with collaborations. At UCL the high-profile research also brings members of the department into contact with the media, with a number appearing on recent BBC programmes. There is also a regular Physics representation at the local "Bright Club" which holds variety nights where members of the University interact with the general public. At present there is an opportunity at an alumni dinner for current students to socialise and form useful contacts.

Next steps


Professor Robert Thorne

T: +44 (0)20 7679 7030


Physics and Astronomy

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Student View

"My primary reason for applying to UCL was the strength of the High Energy Physics group's research and its reputation. The group is involved in a wide range of interesting experiments around the world."

Jonathan Davies

Degree: High Energy Physics PhD

Alumni View

"I chose to study at UCL as it is among the best universities in the field of high energy physics. The contacts I made while studying at UCL have allowed me to participate on the board of a research council and other interesting activities."

Phil Kaziewicz

Managing Director, GI Partners, 1995