Taught course

Theoretical Physics

University of Glasgow · School of Physics and Astronomy

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree in Physics or a related subject. International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses. Further information regarding academic entry requirements: student.recruitment@glasgow.ac.uk

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

The Masters in Theoretical Physics provides an understanding of the principles and methods of modern physics, with particular emphasis on the theoretical aspects of the subject, and at a level appropriate for a professional physicist.

Why Glasgow

  • The University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy is ranked 2nd in Scotland (Complete University Guide 2016).
  • The School plays a leading role in the exploitation of data from the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator at CERN.
  • With a 93% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2014, the School of Physics and Astronomy combines both teaching excellence and a supportive learning environment.
  • You will gain the theoretical and computational skills necessary to analyse and solve a range of advanced physics problems, providing an excellent foundation for a career of scientific leadership in academia or industry.
  • You will develop transferable skills that will improve your career prospects, such as project management, team-working, advanced data analysis, problem-solving, critical evaluation of scientific literature, advanced laboratory and computing skills, and how to effectively communicate with different audiences.
  • You will benefit from direct contact with our group of international experts who will teach you cutting-edge physics and supervise your projects.

Programme Structure

Modes of delivery of the MSc in Theoretical Physics include lectures, seminars and tutorials and allow students the opportunity to take part in lab, project and team work.

The programme draws upon a wide range of advanced Masters-level courses. You will have the flexibility to tailor your choice of optional lecture courses and project work to a wide variety of specific research topics and their applications in the area of theoretical physics.

Core courses include

  • Advanced data analysis
  • Quantum information
  • Quantum theory
  • Research skills
  • Extended project.

Optional courses include

  • Advanced electromagnetic theory
  • Advanced mathematical methods
  • Applied optics
  • Dynamics, electrodynamics and relativity
  • General relativity and gravitation (alternate years, offered 2016-17)
  • Plasma theory and diagnostics (alternate years, offered 2015-16)
  • Relativistic quantum fields
  • Statistical mechanics.


  • To complete the MSc degree you must undertake a project worth 60 credits, which will integrate subject knowledge and skills that you acquire during the MSc programme.
  • The MSc project provides students with an opportunity to carry out an extended, in-depth research project embedded within one of the School of Physics and Astronomy’s internationally-leading research groups. In undertaking this project students will gain, within a first class training environment, subject-specific and generic skills that will form an excellent foundation for a career of scientific leadership in academia and industry.

The aims of the MSc project are:

  • To provide advanced training and experience in the principles and practice of experimental, computational and/or theoretical (astro-)physics, using advanced instrumentation, methodology and software as appropriate, and in the critical analysis of experimental data.
  • To develop problem solving abilities, critical assessment and communication skills, to a level appropriate for a career of leadership in academia or industry.
  • To employ these skills in preparing and writing a dissertation on an extended and demanding project.
  • To encourage students to work effectively, to develop a professional attitude to what they do and to take full responsibility for their own learning.

At the end of the project, students should be able to:

  • Recover, evaluate and summarise the professional literature and material from other sources concerned with a chosen area of physics or astronomy.
  • Prepare a written analysis of the current position in the chosen area, which should include a critical comparison of material from the sources he/she has identified and a summary of likely future developments.
  • Define, with the help of colleagues and taking into account the time available, a suitable area of work for a project and hence make a preliminary definition of goals to be achieved during the project.
  • Make an appropriate safety assessment for the work proposed; with the help of colleagues, analyse what experimental/theoretical/computational methods might be necessary to achieve the goals of the project and hence decide how the project tasks should be organised.
  • Perform the practical part of the investigation, taking due account of experimental errors of measurement and possible assumptions and approximations in analytical and computational work as appropriate.
  • Revise the goals and strategies for completion of the project in the light of results achieved and difficulties encountered.

Example projects

Here are some typical project titles from recent years:

  • Optimal Quantum Measurements.
  • Infrared Limit of Quantum Chromodynamics.
  • Gauge-Gravity Duality.
  • Topology in Lattice QCD.

Information for international students

IELTS: overall score 6.5; no sub-test less than 6.0; ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20. CAE: 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169 CPE: 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169. PTE Academic: 60; no sub-test less than 59

Fees and funding

UK students
International students


Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months

Course contact details

Dr Nicolas Labrosse