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MSc(Res) Particle Physics

This masters course reflects the University of Sheffield's exceptional expertise in particle physics. Our researchers were part of the Higgs boson discovery and they continue to work on projects at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. One of our particle physics experts, Professor Dan Tovey, has been Physics Coordinator for the ATLAS experiment at CERN, Professor Davide Costanzo is ATLAS Computing Co-ordinator, and some of our students get the chance to visit the Large Hadron Collider. Sheffield is also home to researchers who are leading the way in, for example:

  • neutrino detection as part of the T2K Collaboration
  • gravitational waves detection as part of the Advanced LIGO collaboration
  • dark matter experiments as part of the LUK-Zeplin experiment at Sanford Underground Research Facility and the DRIFT programme at Boulby Underground Laboratory

Our staff are supported by the UK Science and Technology Facility Council, the European Research Council, the Royal Society and Innovate-UK. This one-year research degree is your chance to join us in unravelling some of the greatest mysteries in modern physics.

Find out more about Physics and Astronomy research at Sheffield


To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Postgraduate online application form

You can find more information about the application process on the University's postgraduate webpages.

How to apply: applying essentials


Course Director: Prof Davide Costanzo

For general queries contact:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 22 23789

You can also visit us throughout the year:
Postgraduate open days, visit afternoons and online chats

Pathway programme for international students
Don't meet our entry requirements? Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

About the course

This course is taught over 12 months by the University of Sheffield's particle physics specialists. It is designed to build on the knowledge you have your undergraduate degree, and give you advanced knowledge of electromagnetism, quantum mechanics and dark matter. Alongside core modules, you have the option to study related topics, such as semiconductors, or other areas of physics that interest you, such as general relativity or particle astrophysics.

The biggest part of your degree will be your research project. Our staff will give you research training to help you to develop your professional skills as you work alongside particle physics researchers. You will be able to learn how to design a major project, organise your work, and analyse and present the results. At the same time, you will get expert insights into the topic you are studying and experience life as a professional researcher.

Depending on the subject of your project, it may be possible for you to complete your research at a laboratory outside the University of Sheffield – for example, at CERN. The aim of providing this practical experience in a professional research environment is to help put you in a strong position to apply for a PhD or specialist graduate level job.

Find out more about our research in some of our areas of expertise:

Entry requirements

For this course, we usually ask for a first class undergraduate degree in physics or a related subject. We can also accept qualifications from other countries. You can find out which qualifications we accept from your country on the University's webpages for international students.

Prospective international students: Your country

International pathway programmes

If you are an international student who does not meet our entry requirements, the University of Sheffield International College offers a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme. This programme is designed to develop your academic level in your chosen subject, introduce you to the study skills that will be vital to success and help with language if you need it.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at the University of Sheffield.

Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering

English Language Requirements

If you have not already studied in a country where English is the majority language, it is likely that you will need to have an English language qualification. We usually ask for:

  • International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 6.5 with 6.0 in each component

You can find out whether you need to have an english language qualification, and which other English language qualifications we accept, on the University's webpages for international students.

English language requirements

The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.

English Language Teaching Centre

Funding and scholarships

Funding is available, depending on your fee status, where you live and the course you plan to study. You could also qualify for a repayable postgraduate masters loan to help fund your studies.

Funding your postgraduate course

UK/EU scholarships

100+ scholarships image

We're offering 100+ scholarships worth £10,000 each for home students starting a taught postgraduate course in 2019 that can be used towards fees or living expenses.

Find out more

International scholarships

International scholarships image

We're offering 100 International Postgraduate Taught Merit Scholarships, each worth 25% of the original tuition fee for a postgraduate taught programme starting in September 2019.

Find out more

Alumni rewards

Alumni rewards

If you’ve previously graduated from the University and intend to pursue further studies with us then you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on your tuition fees.

Find out more

Up-to-date fees can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:

Tuition fees

Current modules

The modules listed below are examples from the current academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course.

Core modules:

PHY426: Dark Matter and the Universe (10 credits)

Prof Neil Spooner

The aims of this optional course are to review galactic dynamics relevant to the origin of the dark matter problem, evidence for dark matter from galaxy rotation curves and gravitational lensing, the abundance of dark matter from cosmic microwave background observations, an introduction to cold, warm and hot dark matter candidates, WIMPs and axions as dark matter candidates and finally dark energy and the fate of the Universe. Searches for dark matter particles are covered with some lectures given by world-leading experts in the field.

PHY449: Further Quantum Mechanics (10 credits)

Prof David Whittaker

This module builds on quantum mechanics, developing the Heisenberg matrix formulation of the theory from the Schrodinger wave picture. Methods are developed for solving time dependent problems, treating problems involving magnetic fields and spin, and introducing many particle wave functions for fermions and bosons.

PHY466: The Development of Particle Physics (10 credits)

Prof Vitaly Kudryavtsev

The module describes the development of several crucial concepts in particle physics, emphasising the role and significance of experiments. Students are encouraged to work from the original literature. The module focuses not only on the particle physics issues involved, but also on research methodology, the design of experiments, the critical interpretation of data, the role of theory, etc. Topics covered include the discoveries of the neutron, the positron and the neutrino, experimental evidence for quarks and gluons, the neutral kaon system and CP violation, neutrino mass and oscillations, etc.

PHY481: Advanced Electrodynamics (10 credits)

Dr Pieter Kok

In this course, our starting point is Maxwell's equations, after a brief recap of vector calculus. We describe the electric and magnetic fields in terms of potentials, and present two general classes of solving Maxwell's equations. We treat fields in macroscopic media, waveguides and cavities, and we end with the relativistic formulation of electrodynamics.

PHY6340: Physics Research Skills (30 credits)

Prof Simon Goodwin

This module is designed to allow students to explicitly reflect on various aspects of the research process and its communication. Students will be required to keep a diary of their project and reflect on their progress; write a literature review of the project area reflecting on how and why they chose their sources; reflect on the process of learning a new skill for their project; communicate what their research is about and why it is important to a general audience; consider how to teach what they are researching at undergraduate level.

PHY6480: Research Project in Physics (90 credits)

Prof Davide Costanzo (co-ordinator – a member of staff will be assigned to supervise your project based on the topic you are studying)

This module will give students the opportunity to develop skills relevant to a career in physics research. It will consist of a laboratory or analytical based research project in one of the Department’s research groups. Each student will work under the supervision of a member of academic staff and will formulate the hypotheses and questions to be addressed and plan and carry out experiments or simulations to test these hypotheses. The outcome of the project will be summarised in a dissertation and the student will keep a notebook of the research, deliver an oral presentation of their work, and prepare a poster of their findings.

Optional modules:

PHY414: Introduction to General Relativity (10 credits)

Dr Ed Daw

This module introduces coordinate systems and transformations in Euclidean space. The principles of special relativity are reviewed, with emphasis on the coordinate transformations between systems moving at constant velocities. Our discussion of general relativity begins with an introduction to the principle of equivalence. We introduce the Christoffel symbols and the curvature tensors. We study examples of phenomena affected by general relativity, the rate of clocks and the redshift and bending of light in a gravitational field. Finally, we examine space time in the vicinity of the event horizon, the geometry of a non-spinning black hole, and the geometry of wormholes.

PHY418: Particle Astrophysics (10 credits)

Dr Susan Cartwright

The Large Hadron Collider accelerates protons to kinetic energies of up to 7000 times their rest mass: a huge technological achievement. Yet, every second, over 500 million particles with energies greater than this collide with the Earth. Where do these particles come from, and how are they accelerated to these astonishing energies? These are, in fact, still open questions in astrophysics. In this module, we will look at the observational evidence for particle acceleration in astrophysical objects, the mechanisms available to accelerate particles, and some of the likely sources, including supernovae and supernova remnants, neutron stars, and active galaxies.

PHY421: Advanced Particle Physics (10 credits)

Prof Davide Costanzo and Prof Lee Thompson

The module provides students with a comprehensive understanding of modern particle physics. Focussing on the standard model it provides a theoretical underpinning of this model and discusses its predictions. Recent developments including the discovery of the Higgs Boson and neutrino oscillation studies are covered. A description of the experiments used to probe the standard model is provided. Finally the module looks at possible physics beyond the standard model.

PHY447: Physics in an Enterprise Culture (10 credits)

Prof David Lidzey and Dr Alastair Buckley

This is a seminar and workshop based course with a high level of student centred learning. The unit will introduce students to the need for innovation and creativity in thinking, together with practical ways to develop, present, and critique, ideas. The course is based around the development of new innovative business or sustainable ventures. Students are tasked with developing ideas for a new business venture that they will modify and improve throughout the course as a result of critical feedback from a number of sources. As part of the course, students will have to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts, and also help ‘road-map’ the development of a new business venture. This course is designed to encourage entrepreneurship, creativity and critical thinking, and will help students in understanding the mechanics of starting a business venture.

PHY472: Advanced Quantum Mechanics (10 credits)

Dr Pieter Kok

In this course, we will build quantum mechanics from the ground up, starting with linear vector spaces and Hilbert space. We introduce the postulates of quantum mechanics and explore important topics in modern quantum mechanics such as mixed states, decoherence, entanglement, and quantum teleportation. We also give a thorough treatment of spin and orbital angular momentum. In the second part, we look at many body problems in quantum mechanics. We explore the physics of identical particles, and apply this theory to many-electron atoms, spin waves in solids, and atoms in an optical cavity. Finally, we will briefly introduce the basic principles behind quantum field theory.

PHY482: Semiconductor Physics and Technology (10 credits)

Prof Maurice Skolnick and Prof Mark Geoghegan

This module builds on the core solid state physics modules to provide an introduction to semiconductor electronic and optoelectronic devices and modern developments in crystal growth to produce low dimensional semiconductor structures (quantum wells, wires and dots). Band structure engineering, the main physical properties and a number of applications of low dimensional semiconductor structures are covered.

PHY6339: Statistical Physics (10 credits)

Prof Paul Crowther

Statistical physics is the derivation of the thermal properties of matter using the underlying microscopic Hamiltonians. The aims of this course are to introduce the techniques of statistical mechanics, and to use them to describe a wide variety of phenomena from physics, chemistry and astronomy.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.