Physics MSc

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Why Surrey?

The MSc Physics offers you the flexibility to tailor your studies according to your interests, building on the research strengths of our friendly Department, and the supportive environment that we provide for our students.

We collaborate with a variety of partners across the academic, public and industry communities, including the National Physical Laboratory.

Programme overview

You will select modules from a wide range of fundamental and applied physics topics. The application-focused modules are co-taught by practitioners in public service and industry to ensure that students gain real-world insight.

A module in research skills will prepare you to apply your new knowledge and skills in an eleven-week research project undertaken during the summer.

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

Why not discover more about the subject in our video?

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation. Part-time students take the same content over 2 academic years.

Example module listing

The following modules 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.

Educational aims of the programme

The primary aim of the programme is to provide a flexible high quality postgraduate level qualification in physics. It integrates the acquisition of core scientific knowledge with the development of key practical skills in the student’s chosen area of specialisation.

Programme learning outcomes

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas

  • Concepts and theories: Students will be able to demonstrate an advanced understanding of theories and ideas in a sub-discipline of Physics. They will have insight into current topics and problems of that sub-discipline in a professional and/or academic context
  • Instrumentation and materials: Students will understand the operation, function and performance of key devices and technologies or principles of physics relevant to their chosen specialisation
  • Methods and best practices: Students will become fully acquainted with the scientific methods and best practices of physics and exposed to a specialized field described in the programme handbook

During their 60-credit Research Project students will gain further practical, analytical or programming abilities through working on a more extended investigation. This may be an experiment- or modelling-based project, for which the student will be encouraged to propose and set in place original approaches.

The dissertation required at the end of the Research Project has the objective of encouraging students to write clearly and express their understanding of the work, thereby developing the required skills of scientific writing.

The learning outcomes of the MSc Physics may be summarised as follows:

Subject knowledge and skills

  • A systematic understanding of their chosen area of specialisation in an academic and professional context together with a critical awareness of current problems and / or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by the state of the art
  • A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research project
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of investigative (experimental, theoretical or modelling based) research projects
  • An ability to evaluate and objectively interpret experimental data in their chosen topic of specialisation
  • Familiarity with generic issues in management and safety and their application in a professional context, as applicable to the student’s chosen area of specialisation.

Core academic skills

  • The ability to plan and execute under supervision, an experiment or investigation, analyse critically the results and draw valid conclusions from
  • The ability to evaluate the level of uncertainty in results, understanding the significance of uncertainty analysis and the ability to compare these results with expected outcomes, theoretical predictions and/or with published data, along with the ability to evaluate the significance of results in this context
  • The ability to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in their chosen discipline of specialisation
  • The ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences

Personal and key skills

  • The ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusions of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, accurately and informatively
  • The ability to manage their own learning and to make use of appropriate texts, research articles and other primary sources
  • Responsibility for personal and professional development
  • The ability to use external mentors for personal / professional purposes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Knowledge of physics, technology and processes in the subject of the course and the ability to apply these in the context of the course
  • Ability to research problems involving innovative practical or theoretical work
  • Ability to formulate ideas and response to problems, refine or expand knowledge in response to specific ideas or problems and communicate these ideas and responses
  • Ability to evaluate/argue alternative solutions and strategies independently and assess/report on own/others work with justification

Intellectual / cognitive skills

  • The ability to plan and execute, under supervision, an experiment or theoretical investigation, analyse critically the results and draw valid conclusions
  • The capability to evaluate the level of uncertainty in their results, understand the significance of error analysis and be able to compare their theoretical (experimental) results with expected experimental (theoretical) outcomes, or with published data
  • They ability to evaluate the significance of their results in this context
  • The ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences

Professional practical skills

  • Technical mastery of the scientific and technical information presented and the ability to interpret this in the professional context
  • Ability to plan projects and research methods in the subject of the course
  • Understand and be able to promote the scientific and legal basis of the field through peer and public communication
  • Able to formulate solutions in dialogue with peers, mentors and others

Key / transferable skills

  • Identify, assess and resolve problems arising from material in lectures and during experimental/research activities
  • Make effective use of resources and interaction with others to enhance and motivate self –study
  • Make use of sources of material for development of learning and research; such as journals, books and the internet
  • Take responsibility for personal and professional development
  • Be self-reliant
  • Responsibility for personal and professional development

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £9,500 £19,000
Part-time Sep 2017 £4,800 £9,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 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

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Annika Lohstroh

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General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
MSc Full-time 12 months Sep 2017
MSc Part-time 24 months Sep 2017

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.

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English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

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.


Loans, scholarships and financial support

There are many streams of funding for postgraduate students including awards, scholarships and loans. Learn more.


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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.

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Teaching Assistant Scheme

Teaching Assistants support the teaching of undergraduate students through laboratory demonstrating, in-class tutorials or support with computing classes. 

Teaching Assistants can expect to earn £1000-£2000 per annum, subject to any timetabling constraints.

Eligible MSc applicants will be e-mailed with further information on the scheme during Summer 2017. Interviews will take place in September 2017.

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Surrey International Scholarship for Engineering and Physical Sciences

These university-funded scholarships are worth £2,000 - £4,000 for 2017 entry onto the MSc programmes within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences departments.

Offer holders for these programmes who are overseas feepayers and achieve either a 2:1 or a 1st class honours degree, or equivalent, are eligible. Those paying UK/EU fees are not eligible.

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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.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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