Taught course

Theoretical Physics

University of Hertfordshire · School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science

Entry requirements

The normal entry requirements are a 2:1 or above Honours degree (or equivalent) in physics, mathematics, or a closely related subject where the degree is accredited by a professional statutory regulatory body such as the Institute of Physics (or a body of equivalent standing in a related subject or overseas).

If you wish to join the course with a 2:2, applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis, where entry may be possible based on additional information and/or an interview.

Months of entry


Course content

Theoretical physics addresses foundational questions: What is our universe made of? And how does it work? Throughout this course, you’ll be exposed to the elegant and unifying mathematical ideas that underpin humanity’s best answers to these questions to date.

You’ll explore the fundamental physical theories which govern the behaviour of space, time, and matter. From the quantum field theories that allow us to compute amplitudes in high-energy particle scattering experiments, to the geometry of black holes and other curved spacetimes, you’ll gain exposure to the key concepts of the field.

This is just the start of your journey. Through project work and research seminars, you will explore the latest research and undertake scientific exploration.

This course is also available in a two-year 240 credit (equivalent to 120ECTS credit) pathway, the MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research.

What will I study

The course aims to develop hard skills in conceptualisation and critical thinking, mathematical and scientific writing, and soft skills – in communication, teamwork, and presentation – which are highly transferable as well as vital in academic research.

Your core modules will each be taught across two hours of lectures and one hour of classroom tutorials per week. Assessment will be a mix of exams and coursework assignments. Core topics include:

  • Quantum Field Theory
  • Relativity and Field Theory
  • General Relativity
  • Groups and Representations
  • Optional modules provide you with the opportunity to customise your degree. These include:
  • Lagrangian Dynamics
  • Statistics and Analysis
  • High Energy Astrophysics
  • Physics of Elementary Particles

In addition to these, you’ll benefit from a series of Recent Advances lectures designed specifically to explore active topics in the field and bring you closer to the research frontier. This module will bridge the gap between traditional teaching, and the more collaborative and open-ended style of working with real-life research. Teaching is in the form of two to three lectures a week delivered by staff and visiting academics. Assessment takes the form of a series of written essays.

The course requires a substantial commitment of individual study time, especially in the core Research Project module. This project allows you to develop your research skills with the support of a staff member. However, you’re expected to be able to work with a substantial degree of independence.

Throughout your studies, you’ll be allocated a personal tutor who will be the first port of call for all academic issues and is available for 1:1 drop-in sessions.

Why choose this course

Research-informed teaching and scientific exploration is the core focus of the course. Bringing you to the forefront of research in the field, this course will ensure you are fully prepared to pursue a career in research academia or industry, applying your skills and knowledge to solve a range of business needs.

You’ll benefit from being taught by experts within the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics. Our researchers are internationally recognised for their expertise in areas of theoretical physics, including:

  • Supergravity, string/M-theory and generalised geometry

  • Scattering amplitudes in gauge theory

  • Integrability in quantum field theory

  • Quantum field theory, gauge theory and classical/quantum gravity

  • Quantum groups and integrable systems

  • Dualities, generalised symmetries, higher gauge theory and homotopy algebras

  • Applied category theory

  • You will work side-by-side with our academics, contributing to seminars and participating in an active research culture

  • Unique to this course, you’ll also attend a lecture series on Recent Advances designed to expose you to the latest cutting-edge research and the material which is underpinning modern developments in the field

  • The Department of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics is also a member of the South East Physics Network (SEPNET). You’ll have access to a rich collection of resources, including:

  • Networking opportunities
  • Lectures and events

  • Access to research

  • Opportunities for placements and careers

  • Find out more about the South East Physics Network (SEPNET)

Why choose Herts

  • Employability: Learn crucial analytical and problem-solving skills to equip you for your career in research or industry
  • Cutting-edge research: Be at the frontier of research in the field through a specialist lecture series with guest lectures
  • Active research culture: Participate in an active research community alongside internationally recognised experts

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

UK students

  • Full-time: £11,655 for the 2024/2025 academic year
  • Part-time: £970 per 15 credits for the 2024/2025 academic year

International students

  • Full time: £16,000

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

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

Course contact details

+44 (0)1707 284000