Postgraduate study

Mathematical Physics

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

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.

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.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • 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(A): 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

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

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
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD

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.

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. Some offers will be made following the early admission deadline of 31 December 2016 .

You must submit two references with your application.

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

Further information

  • School of Mathematics
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FD