These pages reflect the latest version of the curriculum for the 2021-22 year of entry. However, the curriculum of these programmes is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of these programmes may change for this year of entry. 

We recommend you check this page be finalising your application and again before accepting your offer. We will update this page as soon as any changes are confirmed by the College.

Department of Physics: masters programmes overview

1. MSc in Optics and Photonics

Optics is of key importance with applications in life sciences, medicine, ICT and high-tech manufacturing. Imperial College has offered an advanced programme in optics for over 90 years and the current MSc in Optics and Photonics draws on our experience as one of the largest centres for optics-based research and application in the UK.

The main coursework takes place in the first two terms. The first term consists of practical laboratory work and lecture-based modules that provide a key grounding in some of the essential knowledge and skills underpinning optics. In the second term, you choose from a range of advanced topics and carry out a laboratory-based project to design and build a working optical system. There is also a self-study project in an area of your choice. Your studies finish with a full-time research project.

Graduates of this course are well qualified to apply their knowledge in a wide range of industrial contexts, as well as in a research environment. They find employment with a variety of careers in industry and many move on to doctoral studies at leading universities in the UK and around the world.

Further details can be found on the MSc Optics and Photonics course page.

2. MSc in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces

This renowned MSc course is designed to prepare students for PhD study in fundamental theoretical physics by bridging the gap between an undergraduate course in physics or mathematics and the research frontier. The origins of the programme date back to the founding of the Theoretical Physics Group by Abdus Salam, one of Imperial’s Nobel Laureates. The Theoretical Physics Group is internationally recognised for its contribution to our understanding of the unification of fundamental forces, the early universe, quantum gravity, supersymmetry, string theory, and quantum field theory.

Full-length lecture courses, of which students choose eight for examination, occupy the year up to June. They are followed by two weeks of short courses on topics of current interest. Students then spend the summer working on a supervised project in a specialist area. This can involve original research and leads to the writing of a research project dissertation.

Further details can be found on the MSc Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces course page.

3. MRes in Photonics

Photonics is of key importance in many areas of research in natural science engineering and medicine. Preparing students for academic research in these areas benefits greatly from formal training in fundamental aspects of optics, and the development of an extended project at the forefront of current research activity. Building on modules taken from the MSc in Optics and Photonics, the MRes in Photonics is intended to provide this training.

This programme forms the first year of a 1+3 structure for students who have been offered a place to take up a PhD on completion of the programme, if they do not already have the significant grounding in Photonics necessary for their PhD project.

Further details can be found on the MRes Photonics course page.

4. MSc in Physics

The MSc in Physics programme consists of several streams, each of which has its own set of compulsory and core modules, and a selection of elective modules. The streams are:

All streams include a lecture-based module that provides a key grounding in essential mathematical techniques and skills and a practical Research Computing Skills module that provides a grounding in computing skills that are commonly used by practising physicists.

The Nanophotonics and Quantum Dynamics streams include lecture-based compulsory modules that cover areas of importance in Nanophotonics and Quantum Dynamics, respectively.

Students on all streams may choose from a wide range of elective modules offered by the Department that cover advanced topics at the forefront of current physics research and practice.

The Extended Research stream offers the chance to undertake a longer, and therefore more in-depth, research project. This could be particularly advantageous for students who wish to start PhD research after completing the MSc.

5. MRes in Soft Electronic Materials


The MRes programme in Soft Electronic Materials (SEM) provides a thorough foundation in the science and application of soft electronic materials.

On this full-time one-year (12 month) MRes programme consisting of a multidisciplinary research project, you will attend taught core modules that cover the physics, chemistry, materials, and engineering of SEM, advanced practical skills training workshops, transferable skills courses, journal clubs, and regular group discussion sessions.

The aim is to bring you to the same academic standard in terms of SEM whether your background is in chemistry, physics, or another discipline. Given the nature of the field, this programme is both highly interdisciplinary and spans the spectrum from fundamental research through to application-driven technology development.

The MRes in SEM sits within the umbrella of Imperial’s Centre for Processable Electronics (CPE). This provides a highly stimulating learning environment for students, and an extended network of other researchers and academics with which to collaborate, as well as extensive external collaboration opportunities.

Find out more

Further details can be found on the MRes in Soft Electronic Materials course page.

6. MRes Machine Learning and Big Data in the Physical Sciences

This MRes will cover the methodologies and toolkits for research involving large data sets. The challenges faced in modern physics research, combined with the large datasets and data rates generated, make the field a unique development ground for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

You will learn the science behind these methods and how they can be deployed in real research. During the course, you will discover the tools used in research, both within academia and industry, and how to apply them to real-life experimental data.

The main component of this course is an extended research project where you will carry out original work embedded in a research group. You will explore cutting-edge research within your chosen topic, working with and learning from world-leading experts at the College.

Find out more on the MRes Machine Learning and Big Data in the Physical Sciences course page.

7. MSc in Security and Resilience

Train in the science and cutting-edge technologies that underpin global security

Are you a STEM graduate with an interest in security or a security professional?

Organisations, communities, and cities across the globe have a growing need to be secure and resilient and, on this course, you'll have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to support them. You'll study the who, what, how and why of global security and resilience threats and responses.

Through lectures, workshops, labs, and project work, you'll cover the science, technology, human activity, policy and implementation of security and resilience, using quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore these areas in-depth.

Find out more about the MSc in Security and Resilience: Science and Technology including details about course content, structure, career opportunities and how to apply.

Further information

The Department currently offer eight Master level programmes. These are one-year, full-time courses, though part-time attendance over two years may be permitted for some of the courses.

Please read our Physics PG Competency Standard.

Course details and how to apply

For further information including entry requirements and how to apply, see the individual course details in the postgraduate prospectus.

Fees and funding