Postgraduate Courses for Research Students 2020/2021

The Department requires all PhD and MPhil candidates to attend taught lecture courses as part of their postgraduate training. This is in line with Research Council policy. If you have completed a Master level course, you may be exempt from this formal requirement.  The guideline otherwise is for students to attends 30hrs of taught courses within the first 9M.

Courses Available

The Department offers many postgraduate lecture courses, some common to the Master course programmes, some aimed specifically at research students, and others designated for a broader audience. The courses listed below are the PGR options given last year. Note that these are subject to some changes year to year and it is useful to check with the course co-ordinator listed below. Masters taught courses can also be found in the document “post graduate taught courses in the department of Physics”.

There is also an extensive set of advanced undergraduate lectures, some of which will be appropriate for some postgraduate students. In addition dedicated external workshops many of which are organised through the Institute of Physics can be attended and also count towards the 30hr requirement.  Supervisors will advise students on requirements and assist them in making appropriate choices among the courses.

Information on undergraduate courses, including timetables, can be obtained from the Student Administration Office on Level 3, and syllabuses are given in the Departmental website. Information on the specialist postgraduate courses/lectures, including the MSc programmes, can be obtained from the web pages, or from the individual research group, course co-ordinators.

The Graduate School runs academic training programmes and workshops, mainly in the areas of professional and transferable skills.  Research students are required to attend a number of these courses.  Information about the Graduate School is available at

Students planning to attend one or more courses from the MSc in Optics & Photonics should confirm attendance with either Dr K Weir or with Dr A Williamson.


Individual research groups and supervisors will determine the types of assessments for the courses undertaken. Assessment may be by written or oral exam, extended essay or report, assessed problem sheets, or talk/presentation. The results of each student’s assessments will be noted as part of the transfer assessment and filed with the student records, which are kept in the Postgraduate Office.

Content Subject Areas


Co-ordinator:  Dr Jonathan Pritchard

Lectures for Postgraduates in astrophysics will cover a variety of astrophysical topics. The lectures themselves will be supplemented by a range of homework tasks to be handed in for assessment. More information will be available on the group web pages and at

We also expect all postgraduates to attend the weekly astrophysics seminars on Wednesday afternoons and our lunch-time journal club. PG lectures will commence in January


Co-ordinator: Prof. M Foulkes

Our postgraduates are expected to attend weekly group seminars and at least one Condensed Matter Physics, Complexity & Networks, or Thomas Young Centre research seminar every week. During the course of a PhD, all students will give at least two presentations at group seminars. 

First-year PhD students must also attend relevant lecture courses amounting to 25 hours or more, identified in consultation with their supervisor(s). The courses are expected to be at MSc or MSci level and may be offered by the Department of Physics, specific research groups, other departments, or other academic institutions. Some form of assessment (written or oral exam, essay or report, assessed problem sheets, oral presentation) is required. 

We encourage supervisors to help new PhD students identify a self-contained research project that can be completed before the Early Stage Assessment in months 9-12. This usually becomes the germ of the rest of the PhD.


Co-ordinator:  Dr M Connolly

EXSS organizes a Postgraduate Seminars Series in the areas of Plastic Electronics, Functional Magnetism and Plasmonics. These seminars are led by members of Staff and Research Fellows with contributions also from senior research students and provide a broad overview and introduction to contemporary research topics in Solid State Physics at Imperial. All students are expected to attend the EXSS PG seminar series, which are held each week during term time on Wednesdays at 1-2pm in Blackett 1004. 

The group also organizes frequent research seminars and a small number of Condensed Matter Colloquia with the Condensed Matter Theory group and through the year. Student are encouraged to attend all research seminars and colloquia. 

For the full timetable and further details, please refer to the EXSS website


Coordinators: Dr N Wardle and Dr M Scott

Introductory Courses

  • Computing (Dr R Beuselinck, Prof D Colling, Dr A Letchford)
  • Grid Computing & Certification (Dr D Rand)
  • Statistics (Prof L Lyons, Dr N Wardle)
  • Instrumentation & Detectors Overview (Dr A Tapper)
  • Presentation Skills (Dr M Patel)

 Core Courses

  • Quantum Field Theory (optional) (Dr T Evans)
  • Introduction to Quantum Field Theory (Dr J K Sedgbeer)
  • Relativistic Quantum Mechanics (Prof P Dauncey)
  • Symmetries & Groups (Dr W Barter)
  • Standard Model – electro-weak sector & QCD sector (Prof E Leader)

Topical Courses

  • Collider Physics (Prof T Virdee, Prof GJ Davies, Dr R Bainbridge, Dr S Malik, Dr A Nikitenko, Dr A Magnan)
  • Flavour Physics (Dr M Patel, Dr P Cartelle; Dr Y Uchida)
  • Neutrinos (Dr M Wascko; Dr P Dunne)
  • Particle Astrophysics (Prof H Araujo, Prof T Sumner, Dr A Vacheret)
  • Accelerators (Dr J Pasternak, Dr J Pozimski, Prof K Long)

 Accelerators courses and hardware courses

  • Accelerators (Dr J Pasternak, Dr J Pozimski, Dr A Letchford)
  • Instrumentation (Dr A Tapper, Dr M Pesaresi, Dr P Block, Dr K Uchida, Dr J Borge, Dr M McCann, Dr A Bundock, Dr A Rose)

 HEP Skills

  • Multivariate Analysis Methods (Yandex School)
  • HEP and entrepreneurship (Dr J Hassard)


Co-ordinator:  Prof L J Frasinski

The aim of this course is to provide training in experimental and theoretical methods used in the research of the Quantum Optics and Laser Science (QOLS) group. The course consists of two parts: 

Introductory overviews (1-hour each, Autumn Term)

    • Ultrafast laser science, Prof John Tisch
    • Attosecond measurement, Prof Jon Marangos
    • High power laser research, Prof Roland Smith
    • Probing electron dynamics in small molecules, Prof Leszek Frasinski
    • Inner shell processes in molecules and clusters, Dr Vitali Averbukh
    • Laser cooling and trapping of ions in radiofrequency and Penning traps, Prof Richard Thompson
    • Quantum Information and metrology with trapped ions, Prof Richard Thompson
    • Laser cooling of molecules, Prof Ben Sauer
    • Experimenting with single photons, Dr Steve Kolthammer
    • Quantum optics, Prof Myungshik Kim
    • Cold molecules, Dr Mike Tarbutt
    • Quantum information, Dr Florian Mintert
    • Quantum optomechanics, Dr Michael Vanner 

Detailed extensions (4-hour each, Autumn/Spring Term)

    • Non-linear optics, Prof Geoff New
    • Ultrafast strong-field interactions in molecules, Prof Jon Marangos
    • Photoion and photoelectron spectrometry, Prof Leszek Frasinski
    • Ultrafast laser technology, Prof John Tisch
    • Theoretical methods for strong-field dynamics, Prof Misha Ivanov
    • Inner-shell physics, Vitali Averbukh 

The extensions are accompanied by problems set as homework. The lecture notes and problem sheets are available on Blackboard.

PHOTONICS (MRes in Photonics and MPhil/PhD students)

Co-ordinators:  Dr Kenny Weir

Photonics MRes students will be examined on the core lectures from the MSc in Optics and Photonics course that are given in the first term: Optical Measurement and Devices (Dr K Weir, Dr C Paterson); Lasers (Prof M Damzen/Dr C Dunsby); Imaging (Dr C Dunsby/Dr J McGinty); and either Plasmonics and Metamaterials (Prof O Hess) or Optical Communications/Information Technology (Dr R Oulton/Dr D Mortlock). In addition students are required to attend the Optics Laboratory course demonstration and standard experiment courses, also taken in the first term.

In the second term students may optionally take up to 4 units of Optics and Photonics option courses that are recommended to them in respect of their research areas. The actual course selection depends on the precise research topic but these will typically include: Fibre Technology (tba); Optical Design (Prof P Török); Photonics Structures (Prof M McCall); Laser Device Technology (Prof R Smith); Laser Optics (Dr R Murray); Optical Displays (Prof A Campbell); Opto-electronic Components and Devices (Prof C Phillips); Biomedical Optics (tba); Nonlinear Optics (Dr R Sapienza).

They are also required to attend seminars offered by the Photonics Group and student presentations from the various Optics masters courses. 

PhD students within the Photonics group may optionally attend any of the optics and photonics lecture courses listed above, and are particularly recommended to attend those relevant to their research topic.  In addition they are required to attend both internal and external seminars offered by the Photonics Group.


Co-ordinator: Dr SPD Mangles

As a member of the Centre for Postgraduate Training in Plasma Physics and High Energy Density Science the plasma physics group postgraduate lectures are coordinated between Imperial College, the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick. We provide training in all aspects of plasma physics and high energy density science.

The training we provide is structured as follows:

Autumn School "Introduction to Plasma Physics"at the Cosener's House, Abingdon (11th– 15th November 2019).  This week residential course covers: Basic Concepts in Plasmas, Fluid Basics, Single particle motion, drift motion, adiabatic invariants, Distribution Functions and the Vlasov Fokker Planck equation, Moments and the MHD equations, Waves in fluid plasmas, Collisions and Transport in Plasmas, Waves in Kinetic Plasmas

In addition to the Autumn school students have access to lectures and lecture material at Oxford, Imperial and Warwick in advanced research topics.  Lectures at Imperial College take place on Wednesday afternoons over terms 1 and 2.  Topics include:

  • Computational methods in plasma physics; Experimental Diagnostic Techniques; and a series of lectures introducing  Research Topics in Plasma Physics including: Laser Plasma Interactions, Laser Plasma Interactions at Ultra-high Intensities, Inertial Confinement Fusion, Tokamaks, Dusty and Industrial Plasmas, Ionospheres in the Solar System, Z Pinches, Astrophysical plasmas / plasma turbulence, Introduction to Shocks and Equations of State, Laboratory Astrophysics

    For more details, please contact Stuart Mangles,


Coordinator: Dr A Masters

In order to give our PhD students a better background knowledge of the research done in the group as well as to enable them to obtain a better overall understanding of space, planetary, oceanic and atmospheric processes, we have put together a PG course run within the group.

The idea is to have several members of staff take responsibility for a core research topic which will be covered in 1 week, according to the following format: 

  1. Two 1-hour lectures
  2. Some background reading or task given to the students
  3. Problem sheet (which should take 2-3 hours to complete)  
  4. Follow up 1-hour meeting with students at the end of the week

The core research topics to be covered are:  

Basic Plasma Physics (Dr J. Stawarz); Heliospheric Physics & Solar Wind (Prof. T. Horbury); Solar wind interactions with planetary bodies (Dr A. Masters & Dr G. Hunt); Planetary Atmospheres (Dr I. Mueller-Wodarg & Dr M. Galand); The Carbon Cycle & Atmospheric Composition (Dr P. Nowack & Dr G. Zazzeri); Oceanic/Atmospheric Circulation & Basic Geophysical Fluid Dynamics (Dr A. Czaja); Atmospheric Radiation/Thermodynamics & Climate Change (Dr E. Gryspeerdt & Dr P. Ceppi); Methods and Tools in Space/Atmospheric Science (Dr H. Brindley, Dr P. Nowack, Dr C. Carr & Prof J. Pickering). 

Masters Courses


Co-ordinator:  Dr Kenny Weir

  • Optical Communications/Information Technology (Dr R Oulton/Dr D Mortlock);
  • Lasers (Prof M Damzen/Dr C Dunsby);
  • Imaging (Dr C Dunsby);
  • Optical Measurement and Devices (Dr K Weir, Prof C Paterson);
  • Plasmonics and Metamaterials (Prof O Hess);
  • Fibre Technology (tbc);
  • Optical Design (Prof P Török);
  • Photonics Structures (Prof M McCall);
  • Laser Device Technology (Prof R Smith); 
  • Laser Optics (Dr R Murray);
  • Optical Displays (Prof A Campbell); 
  • Opto-electronic Components and Devices (Prof C Phillips);
  • Biomedical Optics (tbc);
  • Nonlinear Optics (Dr R Sapienza);
  • Advanced Topics in Nanophotonics (Prof M. McCall/Prof O Hess/Dr R Oulton)


Co-ordinator:  Prof. K. Stelle

  • Particle Symmetries (Prof D Waldram); 
  • Quantum Field Theory (Dr T Evans);
  • Quantum Electrodynamics (Prof T Wiseman);
  • Unification (Prof A Rajantie); 
  • Advanced Quantum Field Theory (Prof A Tolley);
  • Supersymmetry (Prof A Hanany);
  • Relativity and Cosmology (Prof J Magueijo);  
  • Black Holes (Prof K Stelle);
  • Differential Geometry (Prof C Hull);
  • String Theory (Prof A Tseytlin).
  • The Standard Model and Beyond (Prof K Stelle)