Taught course

Gravitational Wave Physics

Cardiff University · Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

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Entry requirements

For entry requirements for this course, please visit our website

Months of entry


Course content

The Gravitational Wave Physics MSc provides broad and comprehensive training in both theory and experiment in gravitational wave (GW) physics and astronomy.

The field of gravitational physics has grown rapidly in the last few years following the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, one hundred years since they were first predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The landmark first detection, from two black holes colliding, was followed in 2017 by the first joint gravitational-wave and electromagnetic observation of a neutron-stars merger and subsequent gamma-ray burst, and by the award of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. Gravitational-wave observations are now transforming our understanding of the universe, and the field will continue to grow in the next decades with successive improvements in the sensitivity of current detectors, the design and commissioning of the next generation of ground-based detectors, and the space-based LISA detector.

The Gravitational Wave Physics MSc provides broad and comprehensive training in both theory and experiment in gravitational wave (GW) physics and astronomy: techniques in laser interferometry for GW detection, general relativity, astrophysics, modelling of GW sources, and data analysis for GW detection and source interpretation. The programme offers three streams, which allow specialisation in GW observation, data analysis and source modelling, or a broad experience across these topics. Cardiff University staff are at the forefront of world-leading research in all of these areas, which span the core topics at the heart of the field, and which make this a unique degree programme.

As part of the programme you will complete a three-month summer project on one of these research areas. As part of your research you will have the opportunity to join the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and to contribute to flagship projects related to gravitational-wave experiment, source modelling, signal searches, and astrophysical interpretation.

On completion of the programme you will have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to begin a research career in gravitational-wave physics, and be a competitive candidate for jobs in industry.

Distinctive features

  • You will receive solid core skills training through carefully designed modules that provide practical and theoretical projects that run in parallel with up-to-date lectures, seminars and laboratory sessions.
  • You will learn how to plan and propose research projects, conduct literature reviews and critiques, code in a variety of experimental- and theoretical-physics related programming environments, and the mathematical and conceptual background of gravitational-wave sources, astrophysics, and data analysis.
  • You will be able to tailor the course to your requirements by choosing from a range of elective modules to suit your interests and ambitions. Whether you’re fascinated by state-of-the-art precision physical measurements, or want to specialise in numerical relativity, the astrophysics of compact binaries, or measurement of gravitational-wave sources, we have modules to suit you.
  • Central to the design of this programme is the opportunity for you to take ownership of real theoretical or practical projects
  • You will have acquired a full year’s worth of practical research experience by the time you complete your MSc, greatly enhancing your CV and prospects for employment or further study.
  • Cardiff University’s position at the forefront of gravitational wave physics and astronomy means that the knowledge, theory and skills that you acquire will be at the cutting-edge of the field.
  • You may well have the opportunity of carrying out your research project with one of the exciting international research teams working in this field in the US, Germany or the UK.
  • You will join a supportive student community and, as an MSc student, have sole access to a dedicated MSc Teaching Facility which includes teaching laboratories, a meeting and seminar room, close to the offices of the MSc Co-ordinators and Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies.

Fees and funding

UK students
For tuition fee information, please visit our website.
International students
For tuition fee information, please visit our website.

If you’re a home-fee paying student, you can apply for a £3,000 Master’s Excellence Scholarship from Cardiff University to help cover the cost of this programme.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Enquiries
+44 (0)29 2087 4455