Physics MSc

Surrey's Department of Physics has many decades of experience in delivering high-quality postgraduate taught courses, attracting students from all over the world.

Why Surrey?

Our Physics MSc enables you to obtain a postgraduate qualification in Physics by following a customised programme of taught modules tailored specifically, in agreement with the Programme Director, to suit your interests and previous knowledge.

Programme overview

The MSc Physics is a one year (90 ECTS credits) programme.

Students select eight modules (one taught compulsory module and seven optional taught modules) from a wide range of fundamental and applied physics topics, offered in the first year from the Department of Physics’ internationally-respected fundamental physics taught provision, as well as from the vocationally-oriented MSc programmes. Students tailor their study programme to suit their interests and needs in discussion with the Course Director (and subject to timetabling). The skills learnt are then used and applied during the summer, when you will undertake an eleven-week research project. The project may be undertaken in collaboration with an external partner organisation, which might be an industrial company or a national or international research facility such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Research projects can open the door to many careers, not just further research, and will give you tangible experience of working independently and communicating your work effectively and efficiently in written form, which are key requirements in many professions.

Why not discover more about the subject in our video?

Scholarships for this MSc programme

Teaching Assistantships (up to £3,000pa)

Our department-led scholarships enable you to assist with the teaching of Physics undergraduate students through laboratory sessions, tutorials, problem-solving classes, computing and other teaching activities depending on suitability. Open to home or international, full-time or part-time students, the University of Surrey gives out approximately six of these awards per annum. The Teaching Assistantship award is available on all MSc Physics programmes, and if successful, you can earn up to £3,000 throughout the year. Eligible MSc applicants will be sent an application form by email in August 2016 and the application procedure includes an interview (which can be completed by telephone).

Programme structure

The Physics MSc consists of one taught compulsory module (below) and seven optional taught modules from a wide selection. The dissertation project is undertaken in the summer.

Compulsory module
  • Research Skills

This module provides students with professional skills, research skills and personal development skills to support the Dissertation Project. It is carried out during Semester 2 in advance of choosing a dissertation project, namely February-May.

Research project and dissertation

You will carry out independent research that demonstrates an advanced level of knowledge and understanding in the field of study. Under the guidance of your academic supervisor, you will design and manage a programme of research, embedded within the discipline context and through this, be able to demonstrate well-developed written, numerical, and analytical skills.

Optional modules
  • Radiation Physics

This module will provide you with a detailed and systematic overview of atomic and nuclear physics including basic energetics of radioactive decay. You will gain understanding of fundamental processes involved with the interaction of X- and gamma-ray photons, charged particles and neutrons with matter.

  • Radiation Measurement

You will find out about the principles of radiation detection, measurement and dosimetry. After completing this module, you will be able to critically analyse and summarise original dosimetry data and understand the methods required to calculate dose and radiation effects.

  • Radiation Laboratory Skills

This module explores the experimental use of radioactive materials, radiation counting, spectroscopy equipment, dosimetry measurements and standard radiation experimental techniques. At the end of this course you will be more confident handling radioactive materials and will be able to understand the basic evaluation of experimental data using standard statistical methods

  • Experimental and professional skills for Medical Physics

 The module will provide students with practical skills and background knowledge needed to work in a clinical setting. It includes two seminars/workshop on research ethics and intellectual property and a set of radiation laboratory experiments

  • Introduction to Radiation Biology

You will develop an understanding of the human body and the effect on it of ionising radiation. After completing this module, you will be able to analyse basic molecular cell and tissue structure, describe the control systems of the human body and appreciate the science underpinning radiological protection standards.

  • Non Linear Physics

This module focuses on nonlinear physics and chaos theory, and looks at the application of fundamental methods of nonlinear dynamics to chaotic systems. Module content includes fixed points, bifurcations, fractals, strange attractors and limit cycles.

  • Topics in Theoretical Physics

On successful completion of this module, you will gain a solid understanding of complex variable theory, and be able to test a function for analyticity and identify and classify poles and other singular points of functions.

  • Non-ionising Radiation Imaging

You will be taught on the basic principles of two major non-ionising radiation imaging modalities which are used in hospital environments, and develop an understanding on the physics behind the operation of nuclear magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging applications.

  • Therapy Physics

On this module you will explore how radiations of various types are used for therapeutic purposes. Module content includes UV radiation and blue light; ultrasound therapies; and lasers in medicine.

  • Diagnostic Applications of Ionising Radiation Physics

You will develop an understanding of medical X- and gamma-ray imaging technology, and how to use radiopharmaceuticals in nuclear medicine. By the end of the module you should have a broad understanding of the techniques used in-vivo and in-vitro nuclear medicine studies.

  • Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety

This course describes the international legislative framework of radiation protection. From this starting point the course covers population and personal exposures to radiation, the principles of dose calculations, and example procedures for implementing radiation protection programmes. Nuclear reactor safety case work is also discussed. The module completes with a general assessment of the concept of risk. Please note that this topic will be taught over an intensive week.

  • Nuclear Metrology

This module will provide an understanding of nuclear metrology for applications in the nuclear industry, environmental monitoring and nuclear medicine. Please note that this topic will be taught over an intensive week.

  • Environment and Legislation

This module describes the legislative framework of environmental protection, describing the major concepts in the field. It reviews the establishment and verification of systems for environmental protection, considering both legal and economic aspects. The module concludes with a practical review of environmental protection as applied in the nuclear industry. Please note that this topic will be taught over an intensive week.

  • Extended group project

Through laboratory-based sessions and hands-on computing laboratory teaching, you will learn how to use and implement FLUKA Monte Carlo simulation software. You will have the opportunity to develop a complete radiation detector instrumentation system of your choice, and Medical Physics MSc students will normally undertake a library-based project.

Teaching and assessment

The eight taught modules of the programme are taught by a mixture of lectures and laboratory classes, and assessed by a combination of coursework and examination.

For the duration of the MSc Physics research project students are assigned a primary research supervisor who will be an academic member of staff within the Department of Physics. You will meet your supervisor formally at least once a week, probably more – especially during the early stages of induction to the group and project.

In addition, you can expect to be part of a larger research group and hence to get help and advice from other researchers, including senior graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, as well as from technical support staff and/or experimental officers working in the group. The exact arrangements will depend very much on the group and nature of the project.

The project work will be assessed through a formal dissertation to be submitted at the end of the project phase.

Contact hours

Teaching: 10–12 hours per week

Private study: 28–30 hours per week

Dissertation: 11 weeks

Learning outcomes

Subject knowledge and skills

Material is introduced through lectures, laboratories, and directed reading and research. Students are given guidance on how to manage their learning, and at each stage in their development they are expected to take responsibility for their own learning.

Understanding is developed and consolidated through interactions in group meetings, by laboratory work and by private study. Project work, leading to the dissertation, is used to integrate material and make knowledge functional.

Core academic skills

The various advanced lecture modules in the first year and the research training deliver knowledge in depth and breadth, and develop the ability to deal with concepts and applications at the frontiers of the subject. The project module develops the ability to plan and execute a substantial project, developing a careful and critical approach to experimental design and/or mathematical modelling, and maintenance of accurate records.

Personal and key skills

Teaching and learning of a range of transferable skills (in the ability to exercise independent judgement, use of information technology, oral and written communication, presentation, accessing information and group work) are embedded within the programme; the emphasis of these elements can vary depending on the each individual’s customised study programme.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Annika Lohstroh

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

A minimum 2.2 honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in the physical sciences or in a relevant engineering discipline. Applicants with suitable industrial experience will also be considered.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £4,000 £9,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

GREAT Surrey Scholarships India

For for all postgraduate taught courses starting in February 2017 within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the University is offering graduates from India the opportunity to apply for one of three scholarships worth £5,000 through the GREAT Scholarships - India programme. 

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.