Postgraduate study

Nuclear Physics PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Nuclear Physics

We have established an enviable reputation for producing impactful work and sought-after graduates. Our group boasts the greatest breadth of expertise in the UK, which creates a research environment that allows for diversity, collaboration and a high level of understanding of the field as a whole.

Our experimental research includes studies to identify both the baryonic and non-baryonic constituents of the universe, the influence of nuclear reactions on stellar explosions, and the quark substructures of hadrons.

The main areas of our research include:

  • photonuclear research
  • exotic nuclei
  • nuclear astrophysics
  • silicon detector devices
  • dark matter research

Our students undertake experimental research, often in small collaborations. You will be encouraged to become involved in all aspects of the experiments, including design, construction, implementation, data analysis and presentation of results.

We have an in-house development programme of advanced particle and photon detection systems and state-of-the-art simulation software and analysis techniques. Much of this has been made possible by our work with commercial company Micron Semiconductor.

Another recent collaboration, with Imperial College and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, aims to establish the first direct evidence of non-baryonic dark matter.

Most of our projects are undertaken in international collaborations. Should your research warrant it, you will have the opportunity to develop your work at one of a number of high-profile research facilities and worldwide institutions, such as TRIUMF in Canada, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory in the US, CERN in Switzerland and Mainz University in Germany. These partnerships will not only help you develop your research to an international standard, but will also give you the chance to establish valuable contacts in the world of nuclear physics.

Research degrees in nuclear physics from the University of Edinburgh have taken many of our graduates into international appointments. Recent alumni have taken research positions at international universities and labs including UCLA, Boston University, TRIUMF, and the universities of Michigan and Munich.

The quality of the degree is very well recognised, and a significant asset to any academic or commercial employer.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in physics or a related discipline.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE Academic: total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDPhysics3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Physics & Astronomy
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JZ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Physics & Astronomy
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JZ