Postgraduate study

Theoretical Physics MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Theoretical Physics

This MSc programme is designed to prepare you for a research career in academia or industry by introducing advanced ideas and techniques that are applicable in a wide range of research areas, while emphasising the underlying physics concepts.

The MSc programme is a core part of the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, which has been created to mark the start of a new era in theoretical physics research, following the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN. You will take part in the centre’s activities, including weekly seminars, colloquia and workshops involving physicists from around the world, and you will be involved in research-level projects as part of your dissertation.

The partnership between mathematics and physics is an essential one. In theoretical physics we attempt to build abstract constructs that rationalise, explain and predict physical phenomena. To do this we need mathematics: the language of physics. The underlying structure of the physical world can be understood in great detail using mathematics; this is a never-ending source of fascination to theoretical physicists.

Taught courses

You will take two compulsory courses plus a selection of courses that will bring you to an advanced level in subjects such as general relativity, cosmology, statistical physics, condensed matter physics, quantum field theory and the standard model of particle physics. You may also take courses drawn from a wider pool including specialist courses in mathematics, computing and climate science.

Dissertation

Following the taught component of the programme, you will undertake a three-month research project, which leads to a dissertation.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScTheoretical Physics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

By engaging with and completing the MSc in Theoretical Physics, graduates will acquire core knowledge of theoretical physics subjects and the research methodologies of modern theoretical and mathematical physics. The programme aims to develop research skills and problem solving skills, especially in mathematics. It also aims to develop an attitude of mind conductive to critical questioning and creative thinking and the capacity to formulate ideas mathematically.

These degrees are designed to prepare you for a research career by introducing advanced ideas and techniques that are applicable to a wide range of research areas and sectors including academia, industry, education and finance.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or international equivalent, in physics or mathematics (with sufficient theoretical-physics content).

We are looking for significant knowledge of the following physics topics at advanced or intermediate undergraduate level:

  • Classical/Lagrangian Dynamics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Special Relativity
  • Statistical/Thermal physics

Similarly, we would like all of the following topics in mathematics:

  • Vector calculus
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Tensors
  • Complex Analysis

We recognise that many students will not have covered all of these topics at this level. We consider every application on an individual basis and may accept students who have studied a significant subset of these topics.

Degrees in engineering, chemistry, geosciences, etc, are unlikely to be suitable preparation for this programme, but there may be exceptions. Please contact us to check before you apply.

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.

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
MScTheoretical Physics1 YearFull-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:

  • The School of Physics and Astronomy
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • 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.

You must submit two references with your application.

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

Further information

  • The School of Physics and Astronomy
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JZ