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Physics and Astronomy MPhil/PhD

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCL has one of the broadest bases for research in Physics of any UK university. A UCL Physics PhD provides evidence of the type of problem solving skills which are an ideal qualification for a further career in research or the wider job market.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£4,770 (FT) £2,385 (PT)
£22,180 (FT) £11,090 (PT)

Application dates

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit 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.
Fees note: All fees quoted are for new students only for 2016 entry. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase by approximately 3-5%.

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 Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


Physics research at UCL is investigating fundamental questions about the physical universe. We investigate the properties of the Higgs boson and masses of neutrinos, massive stars, cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution, and extra-solar planets. We also explore the physics of molecules and quantum systems, ultracold atoms and molecules, positronium interactions, quantum information processing and superconductivity.

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.


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 relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Overseas students
Based on academic merit

Summer Scholarship in Condensed Matter Physics

Variable (1 year)
UK, EU, Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding 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 degree

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Vienna
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Smitsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Research Associate, King's College London
  • Researcher, University of Exeter


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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL's Department of Physics and Astronomy is one of the top departments in the UK for graduate study (RAE 2008) and has opportunities in an extremely wide range of fields of research . Our international collaborations provide opportunities to work with an international team, including recently the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the EISCAT radar instruments in Scandinavia and at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble. In some cases, there are opportunities for students to broaden their experience by spending part of their time overseas.

Student / staff ratios › 230 staff › 30 taught students › 200 research students

Department: Physics & Astronomy

Degree reviews

Alumni review

"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

High Energy Physics PhD (1995)
Managing Director, GI Partners
Student review

"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 from the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to the Polar ice sheet at the South Pole where the Askaryan Radio Array is being built. There are also strong contributions in theoretical and accelerator physics. This breadth of research means that there are lots of interesting topics of research to choose between, as well as a wealth of expertise, which was great since I had not made my mind up completely when applying. "

Jonathan Davies

High Energy Physics PhD
Staff review

"Finding out new things no one ever knew before, and (as a head of department) helping others do the same seems like a good use of time! I do particle physics, which is the study of the fundamental constituents of nature, and how they interact. Understanding nature better is always beneficial in the end, but there are also numerous technological spin-offs too. UCL is amazingly well connected – which given that I spend a lot of time in CERN, Geneva, is very important. Also, having the media and political power centres nearby is very exciting and sometimes useful. "

Professor Jon Butterworth

Physics and Astronomy MPhil/PhD, Physics MSc
Professor of Physics

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application deadlines

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit 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.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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