This interdisciplinary MSc offers a wide programme of study related to the physics of planetary and space environments, including planetary interiors, surface, atmospheres and magnetospheres for planets within our solar system and extrasolar planets. The MSc includes a substantial research component, which provides opportunity to work on original research with leading planetary science, astrophysics or space science researchers at UCL and Birkbeck College.
Covid-19 programme updates
Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the structure and delivery of this programme is currently under review, we advise that you contact the programme lead named in the contact box for more information before you apply.
Modes and duration
One year programme which is also available part-time over two years.
Tuition fees (2020/21)
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 Students website.
A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline, preferably with substantial physics content, from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.
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.
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:
About this degree
Students develop insights into the techniques used in current projects, and gain in-depth experience of a particular specialised research area through project work as a member of a research team. The programme provides the professional skills necessary to play a meaningful role in industrial or academic life.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of a choice of six optional modules (90 credits), a research essay (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Planetary Science.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
Optional modules 1 (15 credits each)
Students choose three from:
- Deep Earth and Planetary Modelling
- Earth and Planetary Materials
- Planetary Atmospheres
- Space Plasma and Magnetospheric Physics
- Physics of Exoplanets
- Remote Sensing and Planetary Surfaces
- Astronomical Spectroscopy
Optional modules 2 (15 credits each)
Students choose three from the following:
- Melting and Volcanism
- Physics of the Earth
- Solar Physics
- Earth and Planetary System Science
- Space Science, Environment and Satellite Missions
- Advanced Topics in Planetary Science
Alternatively students may also choose a fourth module from the Optional modules 1 list and two from the Optional modules 2 list above.
All students submit a critical research essay and undertake an independent research project which culminates in a substantial dissertation and oral presentation.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, practical classes, computer-based teaching, fieldwork, and tutorials. Student performance is assessed through coursework and written examination. The research project is assessed by literature survey, oral presentation and the dissertation.
Candidates may be eligible for a Santander scholarship.
Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- This scheme is now closed for 2020/21
- £15,000 (1 year)
- Based on both academic merit and financial need
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Physics-based careers embrace a broad band of areas, e.g. information technology, engineering, finance, research and development, medicine, nanotechnology and photonics. Graduates of MSc programmes at UCL go on to a variety of careers as research associates, postdoctoral fellows, consultants, and systems test engineers.
An MSc qualification from UCL is highly regarded by employers. Students engage in a variety of learning activities, including undertaking their own research projects, which encourages the development of problem-solving skills, technical and quantitative analysis, independent critical thinking and good scientific practice. In addition, teamwork, vision and enthusiasm make physics graduates highly desirable members in all dynamic companies.
Why study this degree at UCL?
UCL Physics & Astronomy is among the leading departments in the UK for this subject area: UCL is consistently placed in the global top 20 across a wide range of university rankings - currently 10th in the QS World University Rankings 2019, and 4th in the UK for Physics & Astronomy.
The curriculum of the Planetary Science MSc draws on a variety of other academic departments within UCL including Space & Climate Physics, Earth Sciences, Cell & Developmental Biology and Birkbeck's Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences. It thus has a strong interdisciplinary flavour, in line with the ethos of the Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck.
The combination of taught modules, tutorials and project work allows prospective students to study a wide variety of topics related to planetary and space environments, such as: planetary interiors, atmospheres and magnetospheres; the impact of the space environment on human physiology and life; and the application of current knowledge to investigations of extrasolar planets, i.e. worlds in other stellar systems.
Department: Physics & Astronomy
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.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
This MSc is particularly suitable for students with an undergraduate degree in physics, astronomy, astrophysics, geophysics or a related discipline, who wish to develop a career in planetary science, space science and related fields. The programme provides an ideal foundation for further research and entry onto the PhD programme.
- All applicants
- 11 August 2020
Any late applications will only be considered after all those received by the closing date.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Planetary Science at graduate level
- why you want to study Planetary Science at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.