Book an open event

Are you thinking of studying for a postgraduate degree but still have questions about life as a postgraduate student?

Join a postgrad study live chat on the 24 April 2024 between 16:00 – 17:00 to find out more about postgraduate studies and life at Herts. Get all the information you need from our knowledgeable teams about admissions, accommodation, student finance, and you’ll have the opportunity to speak to our current students.


Apply now

MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research

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.

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).

The University of Hertfordshire was ranked 2nd in the East of England (after Cambridge) for Physics and Astronomy (2023 Complete University Guide). 


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.

Unique to the Advanced Research pathway, the Research Seminar module takes these ideas one step further. You’ll take an active role, in conjunction with staff, and work collaboratively with peers, taking turns to synthesise and present topics for a series of individual seminar-style talks. You’ll develop strong skills in public speaking and presentation skills, which are vital both within academia and in industry. 

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.

Where will I study?

Learn in our brand-new School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science building, opening in 2024, where you’ll experience a range of experiential learning zones.

You will benefit from two new dedicated physics teaching labs. The new building will also be home to the Centre for Climate Change Research and the Wolfson Centre for Biodetection and Instrumentation Research, which have both been created in response to the most pressing global challenges.

You will also benefit from a Success and Skills Support Unit, which is aimed at helping you build your employability and academic skills. Plus, have access to industry mentors who will provide you with pastoral support, vocational guidance, and career progression opportunities.

The new building will also provide space to collaborate, with plenty of workshops, social and meeting spaces available. Even better, the building has been designed with the University’s net zero carbon target in mind, and forms part of our plan to replace or upgrade older sites that are energy inefficient.

  • 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
    Recent Advances in Theoretical Physics II 30 Credits Compulsory
    Research Seminar 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 with Advanced Research Download
    MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research Download
    Programme specifications
    MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research Download
    MSc Theoretical Physics with Advanced Research Download
    Additional information

    Sandwich placement or study abroad year


    Applications open to international and EU students


    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.