MSc by Research Theoretical Physics

  1. Duration:
    1yr Full-time
  2. Typical offer:
    UK 2:1
  3. Swansea University wins the Postgraduate category!

Course Overview


The Physics department is always keen to attract high-quality postgraduate students to join our research groups.

The MSc by Research Theoretical Physics enables students to pursue a one year individual programme of research. The MSc by Research would normally terminate after a year. However, under appropriate circumstances, this first year of research can also be used in a progression to Year 2 of a PhD degree.

You will be fully integrated into one of our established research groups and participate in research activities such as seminars, workshops, laboratories, and field work.

Key Features

Swansea is a research led University to which the Physics department makes a significant contribution, meaning that as a Postgraduate Physics Student you will benefit from the knowledge and skills of internationally renowned academics.

The Department received top ratings of 4* and 3* in the 2008 RAE, which classified our research as World-leading or Internationally excellent in terms of its originality, significance and rigour.


The three main research groups within the Department of Physics currently focus on the following areas of research:

Applied Physics and Materials Group

  • Next Generation Solar Cells
  • Materials and Devices for Photodetection
  • Physics of Next Generation Semiconductors
  • Bioelectronics
  • Material Physics
  • Biophysics
  • Novel sensors for medicine 

Atomic, Molecular and Quantum Physics Group

  • Antihydrogen, positronium and positrons
  • Quantum control
  • Cold atoms and quantum optics
  • Nano-scale physics and the life sciences
  • Analytical laser spectroscopy unit
  • Ultrafast Dynamics, Imaging and Microscopy
  • Quantum Computation and Simulation
  • Quantum Control and Optomechanics 

Particle Physics And Cosmology Theory Group

  • Integrability and AdS/CFT
  • Higher spin holography
  • Dense quark matter at strong coupling and gauge/string duality
  • Quantum fields in curved spacetime
  • Theoretical cosmology
  • Amplitudes in gauge and supergravity theories
  • Non-abelian T-duality and supergravity solutions
  • Holography and physics beyond the Standard Model
  • Large-N gauge theories, supersymmetry and duality
  • Lattice studies of strongly interacting systems
  • Lattice QCD at nonzero temperature
  • Dense quark matter and the sign problem
  • High-performance computing

Entry Requirements

MSc by Research programmes: We normally require a minimum of an upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in physics or a related field.

International students:  please visit our International pages for information on entry requirements for your country:  Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Europe and Russia, Middle East, North America, South America, South East Asia.  If your country is not listed within these regions, please contact


Applicants to this programme would normally be expected to meet the minimum entry requirements indicated above. The College/School reserves the right to ask for higher academic grades and qualifications. Admissions decisions take into account not only prior academic qualifications, but also factors including the standard of the research synopsis/proposal submitted by the applicant, their performance at interview (if required), intensity of competition for limited places and relevant professional experience (where appropriate).

How To Apply

All applications for postgraduate programmes should be made direct to the University's Admissions Office.

  • Home applicants: you can then submit your application via the Admissions Office.
  • EU and Overseas applicants: you can then submit your application via the Admissions Office.

The application process for postgraduate research involves two stages:

  1. Firstly, securing an offer of a place at the Department via the Admissions Office.
  2. Securing funding for your studies. We will give you help where necessary, especially with the second part.

Depending on the source, funds to undertake postgraduate research are awarded on the basis of either the project being of high quality (in which case the funding will exist when we advertise the project), or the merits of the applicant.

If you already have funding, or are self-funding, you will need to decide on a research topic that interests you.

For enquiries regarding postgraduate research in Experimental Physics (AMQP, APM Groups), contact Dr Markus Müller

For enquiries regarding postgraduate research in Theoretical Physics (PPCT Group), contact Dr Daniel Thompson

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU International
MSc by Research Full-time £4,260 £17,850

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

If your course starts in January, April or July 2018 please refer to the 2017/18 fee costs on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees for the MSc by Research Theoretical Physics do not cover costs incurred personally by the student such as the purchase of books or stationery, printing or photocopying costs.

Course Structure

The Physics Department is always keen to attract high-quality postgraduate students to join our research groups.

All Physics Research Degrees take 12 months of study, including the dissertation.  For MSc by Research programmes you will be guided by internationally  leading researchers through an extended one-year individual  research project. There is no taught element.

The MSc by Research degrees enable you to pursue a one year individual  programme of research and would normally terminate after a year.  However,  under appropriate circumstances, this first year of research can also be used in a progression to Year  2 of a PhD degree. 

The programmes all have a recommended initial research training module (Science Skills & Research Methods), but otherwise has no taught element and is most suitable for you if you have an existing background in geography or cognate discipline and are looking to pursue a wholly research-based programme of study.


The first part shall take the form of a thesis embodying the methods and results of the research project. All theses should be presented in accordance with the University’s Guide to the Submission and Presentation of a Thesis for Research Students.

The second part shall take the form of an oral examination (viva voce).



As a postgraduate student in the Department of Physics you will have access to the following Specialist Facilities:

  • Low-energy positron beam with a high field superconducting magnet for the study of
  • positronium
  • CW and pulsed laser systems
  • Scanning tunnelling electron and nearfield optical microscopes
  • Raman microscope
  • CPU parallel cluster
  • Access to the IBM-built ‘Blue C’ Super computer at Swansea University and is part of the shared use of the teraflop QCDOC facility based in Edinburgh


The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 show that over 80\% of the research outputs from both the experimental and theoretical groups were judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

Research groups include:

AMQP Group

The Atomic, Molecular and Quantum Physics Group comprises academic staff, postdoctoral officers and postgraduate research students. Its work is supported by grants from EPSRC, the EU, The Royal Society, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and various industrial and government sources. There are two main fields of research: Atomic, Molecular and Laser Physics and Nanoscale Physics.

PPCT Group

The Particle Physics and Cosmology Theory Group has fifteen members of staff, in addition to postdoctoral officers and research students. It is the fourth largest particle physics theory group in the UK, and is supported mainly by STFC, but also has grants from EPSRC, the EU, Royal Society and Leverhulme Trust. The group recently expanded by hiring two theoretical cosmologists (Ivonne Zavala and Gianmassimo Tasinato). There are five main fields of research: Quantum Field Theory, Strings, Lattice Field Theory, Beyond the Standard Model Physics and Theoretical Cosmology.

APM Group

The Applied Physics and Materials (APM) Group has been very recently established at our department and is supported by grants from the European Union, Welsh Government, National Science Foundation, Australian Research Council, Welsh European Funding Office, and EPSRC. Its main areas of research range from Biophotonics, covering nano- and micro-structured materials, biomimetics, analyte sensing and light-tissue interaction, over Nanomedicine to Sustainable Advanced Materials, such as Next generation semiconductors, bioelectronic materials and devices, optoelectronics including photodetection, solar energy conversion, advanced electro-optics and transport physics of disordered solids.