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MSc Physics (by research)

Unleash your curiosity with academic independence, allowing you to focus on a research project of your interest.


1 year full-time
2 years part-time
Distance learning available

Start date

October 2023
January 2024
April 2024
July 2024
(semester dates)

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Meet us online or on campus and find out more about postgraduate study at York.

Find out more

At York, our renowned research groups play a leading role on both the national and international stages, collaborating with industries and major higher education institutions. If your passion lies in research, our Masters by research degree provides the opportunity for academic independence, allowing you to focus on your research project, alongside a small number of taught modules.

Your research

The focus of your work will be an independent research project. You'll be supported with a small number of taught modules to develop your knowledge and practical skills.

You'll have 12 months to experiment and collect data, and a further three months (if needed) to write your thesis.

You'll be part of one of our leading research groups, which brings together expertise in fields such as Condensed Matter Physics, Nuclear Physics, Plasma and fusion science and technologies, Physics of Life - Biological Physics and Biophysics, and Quantum Communication.

Research projects

Our academics are working on a wide range of projects suitable for research students to join.


Explore Physics, Engineering and Technology funding for postgraduate researchers and wider postgraduate support.


We encourage you to find out about our academics and get to know how their work and expertise fit with your research interests.

Research projects

Our academics are working on a wide range of projects suitable for research students to get involved with.

Training and support

We provide training which will equip you with skills in a wide range of research methods to support your growing expertise and enhance your employability.

Alongside your research, taught modules will help you develop specialist skills and relate your project to developments in the field. You'll choose from a wide range of Masters and undergraduate modules in specialist areas to complement your research.

You'll also take part in a transferable skills programme, covering soft and hard skills.

Programme location

You will be based on Campus West. Most of your training and supervision meetings will take place here, though your research may take you further afield.

Distance learning (DL)

We offer a distance learning option for this programme if you cannot live in York full- or part-time. As part of the application process, we will ask for justification for taking the DL option and will then assess the feasibility of the work programme. The latter will be embodied in a plan of study outlining resources and facilities needed, training requirements and an associated timeline, which will need to be in place before being accepted onto the programme. Unless special arrangements can be agreed in advance, a research topic that requires specialised equipment and facilities may not be possible with DL.

Entry requirements

You should have, or be about to complete, a BSc degree at 2:2 (or equivalent) in Physics, or a related subject.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must provide evidence of your ability.

English language requirements


Apply for the MSc in Physics by research

Apply for the MSc in Physics by research - distance learning

Take a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Find out more about how to apply.

Funded projects

If you are applying for an advertised research project, which gives full details of the project, you do not normally need to submit a research proposal but you must include the project name. You should contact the project leader, who may ask you to submit a research proposal.

Research proposals

If you are not applying for a particular research project, you should contact the member of the academic staff you wish to work with, who may provide you with a research/project outline.

The research proposal needs to describe the nature of your proposed study and give some indication of how you will conduct your research. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that you and your potential supervisor(s) have matching research interests. The proposal should be 250 to 350 words in length. It must be in English, and be your own words.

Careers and skills

The MSc Physics by research course will help to extend your knowledge of physics, to understand the world around you, and to satisfy your curiosity. You will be able to explore and research new and forefront ideas in physics and technology to make a difference in academia, the government or the private sector. You will develop your critical thinking, innovation and problem solving skills, opening the door to a wide range of career opportunities. 

Our dedicated careers team offer specific support including a programme of professional researcher development and careers workshops and 1:1 career support sessions. They will help you to build up your employability portfolio and to engage in activities that will build up your skills and experience within and outside of your research work.

Career opportunities

  • Physicist
  • Software developer
  • Principal data scientist
  • Product engineer
  • Academic researcher
  • Further academic study, eg PhD
  • Teaching

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Why York

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

York Graduate Research

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.

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