Physics: Advanced Materials MSc

Physics Advanced Materials

The Masters in Physics: Advanced Materials provides an understanding of the principles and methods of modern physics, with particular emphasis on their application to global interdisciplinary challenges in the area of advanced materials and at a level appropriate for a professional physicist.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • The School of Physics & Astronomy hosts the Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre, which houses state-of-the-art instrumentation for studying materials at the nanoscale or below.
  • 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.
  • The University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy is ranked 2nd in Scotland (Complete University Guide 2016).
  • You will gain the theoretical, experimental and computational skills necessary to analyse and solve a range of advanced physics problems relevant to the theme of this global challenge, 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.
  • This programme has a September and January* intake. Please click here for further information.

*For suitably qualified candidates

Programme structure

Modes of delivery of the MSc in Physics: Advanced Materials 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 advanced materials.

Core courses include

  • Advanced data analysis
  • Nano and atomic scale imaging
  • Research skills
  • Solid state physics
  • Extended project.

Optional courses include

  • Detection and analysis of ionising radiation
  • Detectors and imaging 
  • Environmental radioactivity
  • Nuclear power reactors
  • Semiconductor physics
  • 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 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:

  • Simulating and characterizing novel magnetic states in the transmission electron microscope
  • Nanometre resolution studies of corrosion of zircalloy for nuclear fuel containment applications
  • Network Theory and Artificial Spin Ice
  • Retinal imaging with a mobile phone camera

Industry links and employability

  • The School of Physics and Astronomy is highly active in research and knowledge transfer projects with industry. Our Masters students have regular opportunities to engage with our industrial collaborators through informal visits, guest lectures and workshops.
  • You will also benefit from our membership of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance. The alliance brings together internationally leading physics research across Scotland to form the largest physics grouping in the UK.
  • Our staff and students come from all around the world providing a truly global experience. The School of Physics and Astronomy is committed to providing an equitable environment for study and work, in line with the principles of Project Juno of the Institute of Physics. This was recognised in 2011 by the award of Juno Champion status. We also have a strong programme of talks and seminars given by experts from the UK and abroad, which will give you the chance of broadening your knowledge in many other areas of physics and astronomy.
  • The School of Physics and Astronomy plays a world-leading role in the design and operation of the worldwide network of laser interferometers leading the search for gravitational waves. These interferometers are among the most sensitive scientific instruments ever built.

For further information please visit:

Scottish Universities Physics Alliance
Project Juno of the Institute of Physics
The award of Juno Champion status

What our students say

"Classes have all been excellent but it’s the ‘extra’ features that have set the program apart. There was a physics skills course where seminars and handouts were to be produced. The advanced data analysis course and project work have developed my skills greatly as well as giving me new ones. All were very interesting. For one project I worked at a radio carbon lab in East Kilbride with a great bunch of guys that I gained a lot of experience from. I was the “specialist” for the first time and was able to apply my knowledge and skills to help them" 

Dominic Lawson former Physics and Astronomy student, University of Glasgow.


"The best thing about my degree is getting to hear talks or have discussions about leading research in many areas of physics and astronomy."

Colin Gill former Physics and Astronomy student, University of Glasgow.


"The School of Physics and Astronomy is one of the friendliest and most social departments I have seen and you instantly feel like you belong."

Erin MacDonald former Physics and Astronomy student, University of Glasgow.

Entry requirements

for entry in 2016

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.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's English for Academic Study Unit offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Full time fee£18900

Tuition fees for January 2016 entry

  • Home and EU full time fee: £6,800
  • International full time fee: £18,200

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only


The University requires a deposit of £1000 to be paid by International (beyond the EU) applicants in receipt of an offer to this programme.

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

Career opportunities in academic research, based in universities, research institutes, observatories and laboratory facilities; industrial research in a wide range of fields including energy and the environmental sector, IT and semiconductors, optics and lasers, materials science, telecommunications, engineering; banking and commerce; higher education.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

January 2016 intake

The application deadlines for the January intake programmes are: 

  • International applications (non-EU): 20 November 2015
  • UK and EU applications: 11 December 2015

January 2017 intake

The application deadlines for the January intake programmes are: 

  • International applications (non-EU): 14 November 2016
  • UK and EU applications: 9 December 2016

ATAS: Academic Technology Approval Scheme

Please note that this programme requires ATAS. If you require a visa to study in the UK then you will need to apply for an ATAS certificate before applying for your visa or extension of stay, allowing at least four weeks (20 working days) in order to obtain it.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was introduced on 1 November 2007. It is used to help stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. This is in common with other governments around the world.

The ATAS is designed to ensure that people who are applying to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK do not have links to WMD programmes.

Apply now