Programme Structure

The MSc comprises a taught component over two semesters, from September to May, plus a research project leading to a Dissertation, over the summer.  The taught component of the programme has two elements. The first consists of two Compulsory Courses and a selection of Standard Courses, which bring all the students to an advanced level in subjects such as statistical physics, general relativity, cosmology, condensed matter physics, quantum field theory and the standard model of particle physics. All these courses are delivered by the School of Physics and Astronomy. The second element allows each student to choose from a wider pool of available courses, including specialist courses in mathematics and computing. 

Both MSc programmes are full-time, 180-point taught Masters programmes, and are fully compliant with the University’s Curriculum Framework and Scottish Qualification Framework. The Dissertation is 60pt (points). Progression to the Dissertation requires 120pt of courses, with an overall average of 50%, and 80 points of courses above 50% (the Diploma is available as exit award on completion of taught courses).

Taught course news: We have three new courses for our MSc programmes for academic year 2016/17:

  • Electronic Structure Theory
  • Variational Calculus
  • Gauge Theories in Particle Physics
Electronic structure theory introduces the methods and approaches used in parameter-free descriptions of the electronic structure of materials, which aim to solve the quantum mechanical many-electron problem.  It covers wave-function based correlation methods and density functional theory, and their implementations in high-performance computing environments. You will study how to use the linear response ansatz and many-body perturbation theory.
 
Variational Principles is taught by the School of Mathematics; it explores Hamilton's Principle of Least Action and Shannon's Principle of Maximum Entropy. A running theme will be the relationship between symmetries and conservation laws, as illustrated by a celebrated theorem of Emmy Noether's. This is a self-contained course, which is perhaps most appropriate for students with mathematics degrees.
 
Gauge Theories in Particle Physics is an integrated 20 point course on QED, QCD, the Standard Model and Lattice Field Theory. It replaces and extends the 10-point courses The Standard Model and Quantum Chromodynamics. Modern Field Theory has been brought forward into Semester 1.
Research Methods for Theoretical Physics has been extended to 20 credits. Students will carry out research-level studies in the area of their dissertation during Semester 2, in preparation for their summer Dissertation.

We introduced the following new courses in 2015/16:

  • Symmetries of Particles and Fields
  • Quantum Chromodynamics
  • Geometry and Physics of Soft Condensed Matter
  • Quantum Condensed Matter Physics
  • Advanced Materials Physics
  • Quantum Information 
  • Introduction to Quantum Computing

Taught Courses

Taught courses must consist of a total of 120 credit points taken over two semesters (S1 and S2).

In the Theoretical Physics MSc students take:

  • 30 points of Compulsory Courses;
  • A selection of at least 50 points of Standard Courses;
  • 40 points chosen freely from the lists below.

In the Mathematical Physics MSc students take:

  • 30 points of Compulsory Courses;
  • A selection of at least 40 points of Standard Courses;
  • A selection of at least 20 points of Mathematics Courses from the list below;
  • A further 20 points of either Mathematics Courses or Standard Courses;
  • 10 points chosen freely from the lists below.

Compulsory Courses:

  • Problem Solving in Theoretical Physics (10pt, S1)
  • Research Skills for Theoretical Physics (20pt, S2)

Standard Courses:

  • Advanced Statistical Physics (10pt, S1)
  • Relativistic Quantum Field Theory (10pt, S1)
  • Quantum Theory (10pt, S1)
  • Advanced Cosmology (10pt, S2)
  • Classical Electrodynamics (10pt, S2)
  • General Relativity (10pt, S2)
  • Hamiltonian Dynamics (10pt, S2)
  • Computational Astrophysics (10pt, S1)
  • Modern Quantum Field Theory (10pt, S1)
  • Symmetries of Particles and Fields (10pt, S1)
  • Gauge Theories in Particle Physics (20pt, S2)
  • Geometry and Physics of Soft Condensed Matter (10pt, S1)
  • Quantum Condensed Matter Physics (10pt, S2)
  • Electronic Structure Theory (10pt,S2)
  • Radiation and Matter (10pt, S2)

Optional Courses (Physics and Astronomy):

  • Cosmology (10pt, S2)
  • Computational Astrophysics (10pt, S1)
  • Introduction to Condensed Matter (10pt, S1)
  • Solid State Physics (10pt, S2)
  • Soft Condensed Matter Physics (10pt, S2)
  • Statistical Physics (10pt, S1)
  • 
Particle Physics
 (10pt, S2)
  • Symmetries of Quantum Mechanics (10pt, S2)
  • High Energy Astrophysics (10pt, S2)
  • Astrophysics (20pt, S2)
  • High Energy Astrophysics (10pt, S2)
  • Nuclear Astrophysics (10pt, S2)
  • Advanced Materials Physics (10pt, S1)
  • ... plus many more ...

Optional Courses (Informatics):

  • Introduction to Quantum Computing (10pt, S1)

Optional Courses (Mathematics):

  • Geometry of General Relativity (10pt, S2)
  • Quantum Information (10pt, S1) (*)
  • Variational Calculus (10pt,S1) (*)
  • Differentiable Manifolds (10pt, S2)
  • Algebraic Geometry (10pt, S1)
  • Geometry (10pt, S1)
  • Applied Dynamical Systems  (10pt, S1)
  • Group Theory (10pt, S2)
  • Simulation  (10pt , S1)
  • Stochastic Models in Biology (10pt, S2)
  • General Topology  (10pt, S1)
  • Algebraic Topology (10pt, S2)
  • Nonlinear Schrodinger Equations (10pt, S2)
  • ... plus many more ...

(*) Quantum Information and Variational Calculus are taught in alternate years. Variational Calculus will run in 2016/17; Quantum Information is scheduled to run in 2017/18. 

High Performance Computing Courses

  • Programming Skills  (10pt , S1)
  • Message-Passing Programming (10pt, S1)
  • Threaded Programming (10pt, S1)
  • Parallel Numerical Algorithms (10pt, S1)
  • Applied Numerical Algorithms (10pt)

Geosciences Courses

  • Atmospheric Dynamics (10pt,  S1)
  • Introduction to 3D Climate Modelling (10pt,  S1)

Dissertation

Following the taught component of the programme, students undertake a 3-month research project, which leads to a dissertation, drawn from the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, or from industry. In the latter case, students will have the opportunity to undertake part of their research in a company affiliated to the Higgs Centre.

Industry-based Dissertation Projects

In addition to a wide range of standard academic projects, you may have the opportunity to undertake your dissertation project with a local company.

Dissertation titles

Dissertations completed in academic years 2013/2014 and 2014/15 include:

  • Exploring Dark Energy and Modified Gravity with Effective Field Theories
  • Classical Space-times from the S Matrix
  • Inflationary dynamics
  • Exploring branes in five dimensional gauge theory
  • Higgs and triviality
  • A lattice QCD determination of the strong coupling constant
  • Confining potential and effective string in 3D U(1) gauge theory
  • Small-scale random forcing in magnetohydrodynamic turbulence
  • Schrödinger-Newton "collapse" of the wave function
  • Unitarity cuts, differential equations and the coproduct of Feynman integrals
  • Computational group theory
  • Strange particle production and correlation in Pythia 8 with ALICE
  • Top squark physics at the compact linear collider
  • Testing the spherical evolution model of cosmic voids
  • The Influence of the First Stars on Dark Matter Halos at High Redshift
  • The Host Galaxies of High-Luminosity Obscured Quasars at redshift z~2.5
  • The missing baryons in large-scale structure
  • The statistical physics of genomic looping in interphase DNA-protein compounds
  • Analysis of DNA clustering driven by bridging-induced attraction
  • First principles structure prediction [density functional theory]
  • Genetic algorithms in building design
  • Approximation of a set of retinal image transformations

Nearly 50 different dissertation titles on a wide range of topics in theoretical and mathematical physics are available to our MSc students in academic year 2016/17.

Dissertation presentations, September 2014