Mathematical Physics PhD
Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
Programme website: Mathematical Physics
We are a multidisciplinary research group with close connections with the School’s Algebra and Geometry & Topology groups.
You’ll benefit from being not only in one of the largest mathematics research groups in the UK but also part of the Edinburgh Mathematical Physics Group – a joint research collective formed in 1999 with Heriot- Watt University and now part of the Maxwell Institute.
The School of Mathematics is a vibrant community of more than 60 academic and related staff supervising 60 students.
Our group pursues wide-ranging interests spanning a number of disciplines. A central goal is to understand the principles behind quantum gravity, through the study of black holes, cosmologies and spacetime singularities, and via the use of holography and the interplay with quantum gauge field theory through the gauge/gravity correspondence.
Particularly fruitful areas of research are the geometry of higher-dimensional black holes and their near-horizon geometries in the context of higher-dimensional generalisations of general relativity.
We’re fascinated by the various manifestations of supersymmetry: in string theory, supergravity and gauge theory. This has led us to several classification results on supersymmetric supergravity backgrounds, including a recent proof of the homogeneity conjecture. In addition we study gauge theoretic moduli spaces using supersymmetry and via integrable systems techniques, displaying an interplay between the algebraic geometry of curves and their associated function theory. This research has led to computer implementations of various algebro-geometric constructions.
Recently we have made progress in some purely mathematical problems suggested by the gauge/gravity correspondence: namely, the classification of certain exotic algebraic structures related to superconformal field theories, as well as that of certain types of homogeneous supergravity backgrounds.
Mathematics is a discipline of high intellect with connections stretching across all the scientific disciplines and beyond, and in Edinburgh you can be certain of thriving in a rich academic setting. Our School is one of the country’s largest mathematics research communities in its own right, but you will also benefit from Edinburgh’s high-level collaborations, both regional and international.
Research students will have a primary and secondary supervisor and the opportunity to network with a large and varied peer group. You will be carrying out your research in the company of eminent figures and be exposed to a steady stream of distinguished researchers from all over the world.
Our status as one of the most prestigious schools in the UK for mathematics attracts highly respected staff. Many of our 60 current academics are leaders in their fields and have been recognised with international awards.
Researchers are encouraged to travel and participate in conferences and seminars. You’ll also be in the right place in Edinburgh to meet distinguished researchers from all over the world who are attracted to conferences held at the School and the various collaborative centres based here. You’ll find opportunities for networking that could have far-reaching effects on your career in mathematics.
As well as experiencing a vibrant research environment that brings you into contact with a broad group of your peers, your membership of the Edinburgh Mathematical Physics Group will give you access to a dynamic programme of seminars, lecture courses and conferences. There is a dedicated website and blog, and a comprehensive range of graduate activities:
You will enjoy excellent facilities, ranging from one of the world’s major supercomputing hubs to generous library provision for research at the leading level, including the new Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library at King’s Buildings.
Students have access to more than 1,400 computers in suites distributed across the University’s sites, many of which are open 24 hours a day. In addition, if you are a research student, you will have your own desk with desktop computer.
We provide all our mathematics postgraduates with access to software packages such as Maple, Matlab and Mathematica. Research students are allocated parallel computing time on ‘Eddie’ – the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility. It is also possible to arrange use of the BlueGene/Q supercomputer facility if your research requires it.
These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.
A UK first class honours degree, or its international equivalent, in an appropriate subject; or a UK 2:1 honours degree plus a UK masters degree, or their international equivalents; or relevant qualifications and experience.
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 (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.
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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).
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.
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.
- School of Mathematics funding opportunities
- Research scholarships for international students
- Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships
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
- your tuition fee status
Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.
Other funding opportunities
Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD Mathematical Physics - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD Mathematical Physics - 6 Years (Part-time)
We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.
- School of Mathematics
- James Clerk Maxwell Building
- Peter Guthrie Tait Road
- The King's Buildings Campus
- EH9 3FD