The Theoretical Physics Group runs one of Europe's leading MSc courses in theoretical physics. It covers all aspects of fundamental physics, from quantum field theory and string theory to cosmology and quantum gravity, and brings students to the frontiers of current research in these areas. The course is designed to give a solid foundation for PhD studies in theoretical physics, and the skills it provides can also be valuable for other careers. It can be taken immediately after an undergraduate degree, and it is also suitable for those wishing to return to physics after working in other fields.
Sixteen full-length lecture courses, of which students choose eight for examination, occupy the year up to June. Many of these courses are often also taken by PhD students from Imperial and other London colleges and by visiting European exchange students. They are followed by two weeks of short courses on topics of current interest. The students then spend the summer working on a supervised project in a specialist area. This can involve original research and leads to the writing of a dissertation.
In the first term there is the non-examined Introduction to Particle Physics course. The compulsory courses Unification/the Standard Model (8 ECTS), Quantum Field Theory (8 ECTS) and Particle Symmetries (8 ECTS), plus some of the Quantum Electrodynamics (8 ECTS) lectures take place in the first term, along with the optional courses Quantum Information (6 ECTS) and Differential Geometry (8 ECTS). Students can take up to two MSci courses (in the first term these are Group Theory (6 ECTS), Quantum Information (6 ECTS) and General Relativity (6 ECTS)). Students are encouraged to attend Graduate Schhol professional skills workshops throughout their studies.
Term Two: After Christmas, there will be two tests (two hours long) on the first term's courses, one on Particle Symmetries, the other examining both the QFT and Unification courses. These do not count towards the final mark so students are not obliged to take them, but they are strongly recommended, since the results are important in assisting staff members to write recommendation letters for PhD applications (which take place in the second term). They may also be used in the event of borderline performance in the final exam. Lectures for the remaining optional courses take place in the second term. The courses offered are (all 8 ECTS) String Theory, Particle Cosmology, Supersymmetry, Advanced Quantum Field Theory, Black Holes and the remaining Quantum Electrodynamics lectures. The final MSci options available are Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (6 ECTS), Quantum Theory of Matter (6 ECTS) and Complexity and Networks (6 ECTS).
For Master’s courses – June –Sept: The examinations for all the courses are in May-June. After the exams there are a series of special topics lectures, in which postdocs and staff members talk about their research interests. This is a particularly good source of inspiration for your MSc dissertation. By the beginning of July students shall have chosen the topic of their dissertation (30 ECTS), which is submitted in late September.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.
The entry requirement for the course is a first class honours degree (BSc or MSci) in Physics or Mathematics, assuming it has sufficient theoretical physics content.
We will also consider degrees in other fields if they are supplemented with an MSc or postgraduate diploma course in physics.
International applicants can find more information about the international qualifications that the College accepts in our Country Index.
Please note, however, that our MSc is significantly more selective than many other Master's courses, and therefore the requirements for research students are a better guide for what grades you will need.
Also note that these are guidelines only and satisfying the academic requirements does not guarantee a place.
Tuition fees (2015–2016):