Duration: 1 year full-time
Start date: October 2016
LocationSouth Kensington 

About the course


Photonics has been recognised as a key enabling science in many important academic disciplines and industries such as the life sciences and telecommunications. The Department of Physics has a long and successful research history in imaging and photonics which makes the MRes programmes ideal for students looking to develop their research interests and skills in photonics.

The programme has a mix of lectures and laboratory work and finishes with a nine-month, full-time project with an academic research group in the Department.

Graduates of this course are well qualified for further study in photonics and most move on to doctoral studies in the Department of Physics or at leading universities in the UK and abroad.


Modules shown are for the current academic year, and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

The course lasts one year full-time and begins in October.

The taught coursework (i.e. lectures and laboratory work) takes place in the first term, consisting of core modules and laboratory work. In the second term, you may choose some further lectures from the optional modules available.

Laboratory skills are recognised as an important element of the course and you will be required to undertake a total of approximately 100 hours of labwork.

A self-study activity in the second term is an introduction to your project (over approximately 50 hours) and is designed to encourage initiative and self-sufficiency in the learning process, as well as develop the understanding of your research field. It is assessed by a written report and oral presentation. This is one of several activities focused on developing your transferable skills.

You will spend the months of January to September on a major project with an academic research group in the Department.

Written examinations are held in January (and April/May for the optional modules), while the laboratory work is continually assessed during the course. The final project is assessed by a continuous assessment mark from your supervisor, an oral presentation, a viva and a dissertation submitted in September.

Throughout the course, seminars will present the state of the art in photonics related research.

A Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma are not available on this programme.


  • Imaging
  • Optical communications/Information theory OR Plasmonics and Metamaterials
  • Lasers
  • Optical measurement and devices
  • Laboratory work
  • Self-study project
  • Nine-month research project
  • Advanced topics in nanophotonics
  • Biomedical optics
  • Laser optics
  • Laser technology
  • Non-linear optics
  • Fibre technology
  • Optical design
  • Optical design laboratory
  • Optical displays
  • Optoelectronic components and devices
  • Photonics structures

Note: optional modules are subject to change

Employer links

Imperial College works closely with employers and industry, including Industrial Advisory Panels, to design Master’s courses which provide graduates with technical knowledge, expertise and transferable skills and to encourage students to take internships and placements. All Master’s courses are designed with employer needs in mind with some Master’s courses accredited by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies. Most Master’s courses offer an opportunity to carry out research projects in industry

Entry requirements

Most commonly the MRes constitutes the first year of a four year MRes+PhD course (1 year MRes + 3 year PhD) for students without a relevant Masters degree. The MRes may be taken as a standalone one year course, and in this case applicants would need to have a specific research project agreed with a suitable supervisor in the department. For applicants wanting a broader education in optics the MSc in Optics and Photonics would be more suitable.

Minimum academic requirement

2:1 Honours degree in physics, mathematics or electrical engineering, or evidence of appropriate qualifications.

International qualifications

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications. For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed here are the minimum for entry to the College.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirements

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification.

For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

Fees and funding

Research Council funding is available for Home and European Union students studying the MRes + PhD. For UK students, these pay the tuition fees and provide a stipend. EU students may also be supported by these studentships on a fees-only basis, i.e. they will not receive a stipend. The RCUK studentships may be converted to CASE PhD studentships if a suitable company can be found to act as sponsor. For more information, please check the EPSRC website.


FEES - Home and EU students

2016 entry:

£9,200 full-time
£4,600 per year part-time

FEES - Islands and overseas students

2016 entry:

£24,500 full-time


Government funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

If you are a Home or EU student who meets certain criteria, you can apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £10,000 from the UK government for programmes beginning in October 2016. The loan is not means-tested, and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs. 

Funding from Imperial


We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Try our scholarships search tool to see what you might be eligible for.

For more information on the Postgraduate Master's Loan scheme and other funding opportunities that are available, please visit our Fees and Funding website.

How to apply

All applicants must apply online.

You can usually apply for up to two courses, although your second choice will only be considered if your first-choice application is unsuccessful.

Most courses don't have a formal closing date, but popular courses close when they are full, so you should apply early to avoid disappointment. There may also be funding deadlines that apply to you.

You will need to upload documents with your applications, which may include transcripts and degree certificates.

Offer holders will need to pay a deposit to secure your place. This will be deducted from the balance of your tuition fees.

For full details on the online application process, or to start your application, please visit the How to Apply section of our website.

ATAS Certificate
An ATAS certificate is required for overseas students applying for this course. Your Tier 4 visa application, or extension of stay, will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate and cannot provide one.

For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate please see the information on our International Student Support team website.

Further information

The Optics MSc handbook has information on the Photonics MRes, and the Photonics MRes programme specification has further details.