Home Menu


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

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Tuition fees (2018/19)

£5060 (FT) £2530 (PT)
£23540 (FT) £11760 (PT)

Application dates

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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:


UCL Physics & Astronomy is one of the top departments in the UK for graduate study. Our large number of international collaborations provide opportunities to work with an international team, including at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) in Chile, and at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble. Graduate students whose interests are more theoretical also have ample opportunities to gain experience overseas thanks to a wide variety of international collaborations, some aimed at the foundations of quantum theory and the development of future quantum technologies, others at fundamental atomic and molecular physics or computational materials science. The wide variety of training afforded leads to a high degree of employability in many different areas.

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. In addition, some researchers participate in UCL-wide groupings such as the Thomas Young Centre, the Centre for Cosmic Chemistry and Physics, the UCL Institute of Origins, the UCL-Birkbeck Centre for Planetary Science, the Institute for the Physics of Living Systems and the Francis Crick Institute. These networks provide a breadth of opportunity for students to engage in specialised research.

More information can be found on the department website: Physics and Astronomy MPhil/PhD


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 below.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

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

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit 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.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Post-Doctoral Research Assistant,UCL
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Columbia University
  • Software Consultant, University of Edinburgh
  • Director, Nanolayers Research Computing LTD and studying postdoc in physics, UCL
  • Physics Researcher, Boston University


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.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL's Department of Physics & 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.

Department: Physics & Astronomy

Student / staff numbers › 230 staff
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Physics & Astronomy
90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

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

Contact information

Page last modified on 16 November 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing


  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now