The School of Physical Sciences offers a two-year Master’s degree in Physics in partnership with the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) which comprises the universities of Kent, Portsmouth, Queen Mary London, Royal Holloway London, Southampton, Surrey and Sussex.
The programme involves both a taught and research component.
In the first year, you will follow a taught Master’s course, which includes specialised research, and in the second year you will undertake an advanced research project with the option to change locations to a SEPnet partner university or research institution. This may include Cern, Switzerland, the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, ISIS, Diamond or NPL. The School of Physical Sciences at Kent offers EuroMasters research strands in Atomic and Condensed Matter and Astrophysics.
The MSc in Physics (EuroMasters) is fully compatible with the European Credit Transfer Accumulation System across the European Union and other collaborating European countries, and qualifies students to pursue a PhD or a career in physics upon completion. It is also open to UK entrants.
About the School of Physical Sciences
The School offers postgraduate students the opportunity to participate in ground-breaking science in the realms of physics, chemistry, forensics and astronomy. With strong international reputations, our staff provide plausible ideas, well-designed projects, research training and enthusiasm within a stimulating environment. Recent investment in modern laboratory equipment and computational facilities accelerates the research.
Our principal research covers a wide variety of topics, theoretical, experimental and applied – you can see a list of example topics on our available research projects page. We also offer a taught programme in Forensic Science, studied over one year full-time.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Physical Sciences was ranked 7th in the UK for research impact and a demonstration of its importance to industry and the public sector.
An impressive 100% of our physics research was judged to be of international quality, with 75% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
Please note that it is compulsory for students to register and attend from the beginning of the first week of the academic year, for Health and Safety training. Laboratory work cannot take place until training has been completed.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
PH709 - Space Astronomy and Solar System Science
Why use space telescopes; other platforms for non-ground-based astronomical observatories (sounding rockets, balloons, satellites); mission case study; what wavelengths benefit by being in space; measurements astronomers make in space using uv, x-ray and infra-red, and examples of some recent scientific missions.
Exploration of the Solar System
Mission types from flybys to sample returns: scientific aims and instrumentation: design requirements for a spacecraft-exploration mission; how to study planetary atmospheres and surfaces: properties of and how to explore minor bodies (e.g. asteroids and comets): current and future missions: mission case study; how space agencies liaise with the scientific community; how to perform calculations related to the orbital transfer of spacecraft.
Solar System Formation and Evolution
The composition of the Sun and planets will be placed in the context of the current understanding of the evolution of the Solar System. Topics include: Solar system formation and evolution; structure of the solar system; physical and orbital evolution of asteroids.
Extra Solar Planets
The evidence for extra Solar planets will be presented and reviewed. The implications for the development and evolution of Solar Systems will be discussed.
Life in Space
Introduction to the issue of what life is, where it may exist in the Solar System and how to look for it.View full module detals
PH711 - Rocketry and Human Spaceflight
Flight Operations: Control of spacecraft from the ground, including aspects of telecommunications theory.
Propulsion and attitude control: Physics of combustion in rockets, review of classical mechanics of rotation and its application to spacecraft attitude determination and control.
Impact Damage: The mechanisms by which space vehicles are damaged by high speed impact will be discussed along with protection strategies.
Human spaceflight: A review of human spaceflight programs (past and present). Life-support systems. An introduction to some major topics in space medicine; acceleration, pressurisation, radiation, etc.
International Space Station: Status of this project/mission will be covered.View full module detals
PH712 - Cosmology and Interstellar Medium
The major properties of the Interstellar Medium (ISM) are described. The course will discuss the characteristics of the gaseous and dust components of the ISM, including their distributions throughout the Galaxy, physical and chemical properties, and their influence the star formation process. The excitation of this interstellar material will be examined for the various physical processes which occur in the ISM, including radiative, collisional and shock excitation. The way in which the interstellar material can collapse under the effects of self-gravity to form stars, and their subsequent interaction with the remaining material will be examined. Finally the end stages of stellar evolution will be studied to understand how planetary nebulae and supernova remnants interact with the surrounding ISM.
Review of FRW metric; source counts; cosmological distance ladder; standard candles/rods.
High-z galaxies: fundamental plane; Tully-Fisher; low surface brightness galaxies; luminosity functions and high-z evolution; the Cosmic Star Formation History
Galaxy clusters: the Butcher-Oemler effect; the morphology-density relation; the SZ effect
AGN and black holes: Beaming and superluminal motion; Unified schemes; Black hole demographics; high-z galaxy and quasar absorption and emission lines;View full module detals
PH722 - Particle and Quantum Physics
• Approximation Methods, perturbation theory, variational methods.
• Classical/Quantum Mechanics, measurement and the correspondence principle.
• Uncertainty Principle and Spin precession .
• Key Experiments in Modern Quantum Mechanics (Aharonov-Bohm, neutron diffractyion in a gravitational field, EPR paradox).
• Experimental methods in Particle Physics (Accelerators, targets and colliders, particle interactions with matter, detectors, the LHC).
• Feynman Diagrams, particle exchange, leptons, hadrons and quarks.
• Symmetries and Conservation Laws.
• Hadron flavours, isospin, strangeness and the quark model.
• Weak Interactions, W and Z bosons.View full module detals
PH751 - Research Review
In consultation with a member of staff the student will choose a topic within any branch of physics for which appropriate supervision is available and write an article on that topic that would be suitable for publication in the scientific literature as a review article.View full module detals
PH752 - Magnetism and Superconductivity
PS700 - Physical Science Research Investigation
Through two Colloquium Reports, students will learn to write high-impact articles with a critical analysis of research presented by others. They will exercise presentation skills and present critical reviews and referee's reports of the research of others.
The Research Project (60%)
Identification of a research area and the issues to tackle
Investigation of an unresolved issue comparing experiments and models, comparing approaches, assumptions and statistical methods.
Production of a dissertation
Proposal for future novel work as a short Case for Support for a PhD or research outside university environment
Project Management: Scheduling research programmes, Gantt, PERT charts.
Project Management: Costing of research, full economic cost, direct and indirect costs.
Poster presentation of the research
Research Review and Evaluation (40%)
Evaluation of Research: Colloquium attendance/viewing.
Science Communication: Preparation of two colloquium reports as a science magazine article with impact
Referee report on the colloquiums: strengths, weaknesses of both the speaker and the research quality.
Details of the work to be done will be announced by the convenor during the first two weeks of the academic year.View full module detals
PS701 - Topics in Functional Materials
Chemists and physicists are now playing an important role in the growing field of materials research. More recently there has been a growing interest, driven by technological needs, in materials with specific functions and this requires a combination of physics and chemistry. For example, new materials are needed for the energy industry (batteries and fuel cells), for the optics and electronics industry (semiconductors, lasers and wave-guides), and for the environment (sensors, actuators and ‘smart’ materials). The aim of this module is to introduce students to this area of modern materials and techniques.
Examples of the topics that might typically be covered are:
1. Crystal growth and defects.
2. Liquid crystals.
3. Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.
4. X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS).
6. Multiferroics.View full module detals
PH754 - Euromasters Project
• A student, supervisor and project will be brought together consensually and a one year research project will be performed within one of the SPS research groups. This will be completely equivalent to a current research masters degree.View full module detals
Teaching and Assessment
An interim report, dissertation and presentations.
The programme aims to:
- develop an integrated and critically aware understanding of physics to prepare you to undertake a PhD in the sub-disciplines of astrophysics or condensed matter physics anywhere in Europe
- enhance your employment opportunities and career prospects in physics/astrophysics
- develop a variety of Master’s level intellectual and transferable skills
- equip you with the learning skills to keep abreast of developments in the continually evolving fields of astrophysics or condensed matter physics
- instil in you a sense of enthusiasm for physics by underlining the role of the discipline at the core of our understanding of all physical phenomena and as the foundation of many of the pure and applied sciences
- involve you in the intellectually stimulating and satisfying experience of learning within a research-led environment
- enable you to undertake and report on an experimental, computational or theoretical investigation based on an extended project in physics or astrophysics
- enable you to realise your academic potential
- enhance your appreciation of the applications of physics in different contexts including an appreciation of the importance of physics in industrial, economic, environmental and social contexts
Knowledge and understanding
You gain a knowledge and understanding of:
- aspects of the theory and practice of condensed matter physics or astrophysics, and of those aspects upon which it depends: a knowledge of key physics, the use of electronic data processing and analysis, and modern day mathematical and computational tools
- the most fundamental laws and principles of physics and of astrophysics, along with their application to a variety of areas in physics and/or astrophysics, some of which are at (or are informed by) the forefront of the discipline.
You gain intellectual skills in:
- the ability to identify relevant principles and laws when dealing with problems, and to make approximations necessary to obtain solutions
- the ability to solve problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools
- the ability to execute and analyse critically the results of an experiment or investigation and draw valid conclusions. To evaluate the level of uncertainty in these results and compare them with expected outcomes, theoretical predictions or with published data; thereby to evaluate the significance of their results in this context
- the ability to use mathematical techniques and analysis to model physical behaviour
- the ability to comment critically on specialised equipment and techniques, and their use in condensed matter, space science or astrophysics research
- the ability to solve advanced problems in physics using appropriate mathematical tools, to translate problems into mathematical statements and to obtain order of magnitude or more precise solutions as appropriate
- the ability to interpret mathematical descriptions of physical phenomena
- the ability to plan an experiment or investigation under supervision and to understand the significance of error analysis
- a variety of experimental, mathematical and/or computational techniques applicable to current research within physics
- the ability to work within in the condensed matter or astrophysics area that is well-matched to the frontiers of knowledge, the science drivers that underpin government-funded research and the commercial activity that provides hardware or software solutions to challenging scientific problems in these fields.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the competent use of appropriate C&IT packages/systems for the analysis of data and the retrieval of appropriate and useful information
- the ability to present and interpret information graphically
- the ability to communicate scientific information, in particular to produce clear and accurate scientific reports
- familiarity with laboratory apparatus and techniques, including relevant aspects of health and safety
- the systematic and reliable recording of experimental data
- an ability to make use of appropriate texts, research-based materials or other learning resources as part of managing your own learning
- C&IT skills that show fluency at the level and range needed for project work, such as familiarity with a programming language, simulation software or the use of mathematical packages for manipulation and numerical solution of equations
- the ability to communicate complex scientific ideas, the conclusion of an experiment, investigation or project concisely, and to do so accurately and informatively
- an ability to make use of research articles and other primary sources
- the competent use of specialised equipment, the ability to identify appropriate pieces of equipment and to master new techniques and equipment.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- problem-solving skills, in the context of both problems with well-defined solutions and open-ended problems, an ability to formulate problems in precise terms and to identify key issues, and the confidence to try different approaches in order to make progress on challenging problems. Numeracy is subsumed within this area
- investigative skills in the context of independent investigation including the use of textbooks and other available literature, databases, and the interaction with colleagues to extract important information
- communication skills in the area of dealing with surprising ideas and difficult concepts, including listening carefully, reading demanding texts and presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner. C&IT skills are an important element of this
- analytical skills: associated with the need to pay attention to detail and to develop an ability to manipulate precise and intricate ideas, to construct logical arguments and to use technical language correctly
- personal skills: the ability to work independently, to use initiative, to organise yourself to meet deadlines and to interact constructively with other people.
All programmes in the School of Physical Sciences equip you with the tools you need to conduct research, solve problems, communicate effectively and transfer skills to the workplace, which means our graduates are always in high demand. Our links with industry not only provide you with the opportunity to gain work experience during your degree, but also equip you with the general and specialist skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace.
Typical employment destinations for graduates from the physics programmes include power companies, aerospace, defence, optoelectronics and medical industries. Typical employment destinations for graduates from our forensic science and chemistry programmes include government agencies, consultancies, emergency services, laboratories, research or academia.
The University has good facilities for modern research in physical sciences. These include: NMR spectrometers; powder X-ray diffractometers; X-ray fluorescence; atomic absorption in flame and graphite furnace mode; gel-permeation, gas, analytical and preparative high-performance liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; scanning electron microscopy and EDX. We also have various microscopes, differential scanning calorimetry and thermal gravimetric analysis, dionex analysis of anions and automated CHN analysis. For planetary science impact studies, there is a two-stage light gas gun.
Much of the School's work is interdisciplinary and we have successful collaborative projects with members of the Schools of Biosciences, Computing and Engineering and Digital Arts at Kent, as well as an extensive network of international collaborations.
National and international links
The School is a leading partner in the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), and benefits from £2.5 million of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The School has collaborations with universities around the world, particularly in Germany, France, Italy and the USA. UK links include King's College, London and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. Our industrial partners include BAE Systems, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Ophthalmic Technology Inc, Canada. We also have collaborations with NASA, European Southern Observatory (ESO) and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Nature; Science; Astrophysical Journal; Journal of Polymer Science; Journal of Materials Chemistry; and Applied Optics.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
First or second class honours degree in Physics, Chemistry or a cogent discipline is normally required.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Applied Optics Group (AOG)
The Group’s research focuses on optical sources, optical configurations and signal processing methods for optical measurements and imaging. The Group developed the first en-face OCT image of the eye and now works with national and international institutions to extend OCT capabilities. They also conduct research on coherence gated wavefront sensors and multiple path interferometry, as well as Fast Fourier transformations on graphics cards, supercontinuum sources and fast tunable lasers.
Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CAPS)
The group’s research spans observation, experimentation, simulation and modelling. The major topics are star formation, planetary science and early solar system bodies, galactic astronomy and astrobiology. The group uses data from the largest telescopes in the world and in space, such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the New Technology Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory. They also use our in-house facilities, including a two-stage light gas gun for impact studies.
Forensic Imaging Group (FIG)
The Group’s research has an applied focus. They explore mathematical and computational techniques and employ a wide variety of image processing and analysis methods for applications in many areas, including forensics and cyber security. The Group holds major grant funding from EPSRC. It has spawned a very successful spin-out company, Visionmetric Ltd, and was central to the School’s excellent REF 2014 rating for impact; placing the School equal 7th nationally in this category.
Functional Materials Group (FMG)
Research in the multi-disciplinary FMG encompasses the synthesis, characterisation, theory and computer modelling of cutting-edge materials. Researcher are interested in finding new optical, mechanical, electronic, magnetic or biological properties that challenge present understanding or can give rise to new innovative technologies. The Group is unique nationwide in that it integrates both physicists and chemists, and its research benefits from this exchange of ideas and expertise.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Professor Mark Burchell: Professor of Space Science
Hypervelocity impacts, the very violent events typical of solar system impacts, including: impact cratering in ices, intact capture in aerogel, impact disruption of target bodies, oblique incidence impacts, astrobiology (survival of microbial life in impact events); solar system dust using impact ionisation techniques.View Profile
Dr Sam Carr: Lecturer in Physics
Theoretical condensed matter physics, in particular field theory and non-perturbative techniques applied to strongly correlated quantum many-body systems.View Profile
Dr George Dobre: Lecturer in Applied Optics
Optical coherence tomography; optical design; interferometric sensors; fibre optic sensors.View Profile
Dr Dirk Froebrich: Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Earliest stages of star and star cluster formation; structure and properties of molecular clouds; structure analysis of star clusters.View Profile
Dr Stuart Gibson: Lecturer in Forensic Science
Digital image processing with forensic applications; computer vision; interactive evolutionary computation (IEC) and cognitive psychology relating to human facial appearance.View Profile
Dr S.C. Lowry: Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Comets, asteroids, solar system, spacecraft and remote observation.View Profile
Dr Jingqi Miao: Senior Lecturer in Theoretical Astrophysics
SPH numerical simulation of collapsing molecular clouds; effect of the UV radiation on the Bright Rim clouds; DSMC modelling of the space particles impacts on spacecraft; structures and formation of proplyds.View Profile
Dr Gavin Mountjoy: Reader in Condensed Matter Physics
Multi-technique characterisation of oxide glasses (including ‘sol gels’); vibrational spectroscopy of silicate glasses; use of X-ray absorption spectroscopy to characterise nanocrystalline transition metal alloys and oxides, including nanocomposite materials.View Profile
Dr Emma Pugh: Lecturer in Physics
Experimental condensed matter physics; magnetism, unconventional superconductivity, quantum condensed states; use of low temperature, high pressure and high magnetic field sample environments; use of central facilities including X-ray and neutron scattering centres.View Profile
Dr Jorge Quintanilla: Senior Lecturer in Condensed Matter Theory
Quantum condensed matter and materials physics; spontaneous Fermi surface deformations in strongly correlated quantum matter; unconventional pairing in superconductors; complementarity between cold atom and condensed matter experiments; proximity effect in magnetic nanostructures; design of new quantum informationbased neutron scattering and cold atoms probes of strongly correlated quantum matter, and novel topological excitations in frustrated magnets.View Profile
Dr Silvia Ramos: Lecturer in Materials Science
Strongly correlated quantum matter; atomic and electronic structure; characterisation of materials using microscopic probes available at large facilities such as X-rays, neutrons and muons. Interest in materials with competing electronic order (such as superconductors or magnets) and emergent electronic order at interfaces.View Profile
Professor Adrian Podoleanu: Professor of Biomedical Optics
Atomic-scale structure of novel amorphous (noncrystalline) materials of contemporary interest such as nonlinear optical glasses and ‘sol gel’ glasses, which may be catalytically or biologically active.View Profile
Dr M.C. Price: Senior Lecturer in Space Science
Experimentally based and computer modelling of hypervelocity impacts relevant to the evolution of solar system bodies.View Profile
Professor Michael Smith: Professor of Astronomy
Star formation; molecular clouds; evolution of galaxies; astrophysical simulation; simulation; shock waves; planetary nebulae.View Profile
Dr Christopher Solomon: Reader in Physics
Image processing and reconstruction; facial modelling, encoding and synthesis; facial composites, forensic image analysis.View Profile
Professor Paul Strange: Professor of Physics
First principles calculation of the properties of condensed matter; the electronic and magnetic properties of rare earth materials, superconductors, carbon and other nanotubes; superatom materials.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Euromasters in Physics - MSc at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com
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