MSc Theoretical Physics

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

Funding available*

About the course

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 your own 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.

Find out more about the MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research.

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 in 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, strings and generalised geometry
  • scattering amplitudes in gauge theory
  • integrability in quantum field theory
  • quantum groups and integrable systems.

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

Find out more about the Mathematics and Mathematical Physics research group.

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).

What will I study?

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

  • Level 6
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Groups and Representations 15 Credits Compulsory
    The Physics of Elementary Particles 15 Credits Optional
    Lagrangian Dynamics 15 Credits Optional
  • Level 7
    Module Credits Compulsory/optional
    Relativity and Field Theory 15 Credits Compulsory
    General Relativity 15 Credits Compulsory
    Quantum Field Theory 15 Credits Compulsory
    Recent Advances in Theoretical Physics I 30 Credits Compulsory
    Theoretical Physics Research Project 60 Credits Compulsory
    High Energy Astrophysics 15 Credits Optional
    Statistics and Analysis 15 Credits Optional
  • Further course information

    Course fact sheets
    MSc Theoretical Physics Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Theoretical Physics Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year

    n/a

    Applications open to international and EU students

    Yes

    Student experience

    At the University of Hertfordshire, we want to make sure your time studying with us is as stress-free and rewarding as possible. We offer a range of support services including; student wellbeing, academic support, accommodation and childcare to ensure that you make the most of your time at Herts and can focus on studying and having fun.

    Find out about how we support our students

    You can also read our student blogs to find out about life at Herts.

    Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

    Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.