Faculty of Science and Engineering

Physics and Astrophysics research degrees

Postgraduate - Research

MSc by Thesis PhD

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About our programmes

Physics offers a range of postgraduate study options at MSc by Thesis and PhD level, both full and part-time.

Our research broadly covers the following areas:

  • Lasers and their applications
  • Theory of condensed matter
  • Experimental solid-state physics
  • Astrophysics and gravitation

Research is funded from a range of sources, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Royal Society, as well as government and industrial establishments. Our work also benefits from strong interdisciplinary links within the university and with other groups at the national and the international level.

We have well-established links with a number of industrial companies and research centres with whom we conduct collaborative research.

Apply for research programmes in Physics


Open for admission in 2024/25

Qualification Full time Part time
MSc by Thesis 1 year* 2 years*
PhD 3 years* 5 years*

* The length of programme registration will be longer as it includes the maximum writing-up phase.

Start in January, May or September


Theory of condensed matter

The research interests of the group span across a range of topics in condensed matter including hard matter (e.g., semiconductors), soft matter (e.g., polymers, colloids, surfactants etc.), surfaces and quantum technologies.

Semiconductor physics

We employ a unique mix of semiconductor theory and Monte-Carlo computation techniques to address issues in existing devices or develop new devices. Current research includes:

  • High field transport in gallium nitride transistors
  • On-going development of our Monte-Carlo code MC2
  • Design and development of THz emitters

Soft matter

Soft matter includes industrially and biologically important systems such as colloids, polymers and surfactants. The distinctive feature of all these systems is the presence of mesoscopic length-scales which necessitates the use of coarse-grained models to access the length and time scales of interest.

Surface science

Our work focuses on the:

  • Development and application of high-performance computing for quantum vibrational dynamics and properties of extended systems
  • Hydrogen-bonding and weak interactions in biological systems and nanostructures
  • Description of molecule-surface interactions

Quantum technology

Specific areas of research include:

  • Quantum transport
  • Quantum feedback control
  • Quantum information processing 
  • Quantum optics
  • Quantum criticality


Experimental solid-state physics


The University of Hull is renowned for its work on liquid crystals materials following its invention of the first room-temperature liquid crystal which heralded the advent of the multi-million dollar liquid crystal display technology. This interdisciplinary research continues this tradition and applies semiconducting liquid crystals to emerging application areas, such as organic light-emitting displays, solar cells and plastic electronics. We also have interests in plasmonic structures for enhanced light-emission and nano-photonics.


Our projects include: 

  • molecular spintronics
  • lab-on-chip nanogap sensors for electronic detection of DNA and proteins
  • organic memristors for nonvolatile data storage
  • novel applications of conducting polymers
  • new methods of nanoscale engineering


Lasers and light-matter interactions

The research interests of the group broadly cover the interaction of light with matter for scientific, industrial and medical applications. This primarily involves laser sources, meaning the group also studies the generation and delivery of high-intensity light. Below are some of the areas we’re currently involved in.

  • Laser-induced forward transfer
  • Analysis of laser-produced fume
  • Femtosecond laser interactions
  • VUV laser interactions
  • Enhancing light harvesting in organic solar cells (Daphne Jackson fellowship)


Astrophysics (E.A Milne Centre for Astrophysics)

From the Big Bang to black holes, and from quantum mechanics to the theory of everything, The E.A. Milne Centre’s world-leading experts pursue explanations for the wonders of the Universe and then share their awe-inspiring discoveries with students, schools and the public to ignite the passions of the Einsteins and Hawkings of tomorrow.

Solar and stellar physics

  • The magnetic sun
  • Stellar nucleosynthesis and cosmo-chemistry

Galaxy and galaxy-cluster physics

  • Galactic archaeology
  • Galaxy evolution
  • Galaxy clusters


Fees and funding


Full time:
£4,712 per year

Part time: £2,356 per year


Full time:
£18,650 per year

These fees are for all research degree programmes on this page. For courses lasting more than one year, annual increases apply. For more information, please visit the fees and funding page. 

Postgraduate research programme structures


  • Full-time: 3 years of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 5 years of research, with up to 20 months of writing up if required


  • Full-time: one year of research, with up to 12 months writing up if required
  • Part-time: 2 years of research, with up to 24 months of writing up if required

Writing-up and thesis submission

A standard full-time PhD programme comprised three years of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up. Part-time is five years plus up to 20 months writing-up if needed. Full-time standard Masters programmes are comprised one year of research plus up to 12 months of writing-up if needed; and part time Masters programmes have two years of research with up to two years of writing-up.

For full-time students, the writing-up phase typically takes about three months but may be extended to one year without further paperwork. For part-time students, writing-up typically takes one year, but may be extended to two years without further paperwork. The maximum writing-up period is included in your overall programme length, which means that international PGRs will not need to apply for an additional visa to cover the writing-up phase.

If you need to move into the writing-up period of your research degree, you must enrol for this phase and you will be liable to pay a continuation fee.

The fees for the writing-up period for 2023/24 are:

Full time

  • Writing-up fee £345
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Part time

  • Continuation Fee £170
  • Rebate for submission within first 3 months of the research period end date 100%
  • Rebate for submission between 4- 6 months of the research period end date 50%
  • Rebate for submission between 7-9 months of the research period end date 25%

Thesis submission timelines

It is expected that you will submit your thesis within the timeframes outlined below:

Masters degrees

  • Submission by one year and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 2 years and 6 months part-time.

Doctoral degrees

  • Submission by 3 years and 3 months full-time.
  • Submission by 5 years and 6 months for part-time.

Doctoral Loan

UK students who haven’t secured a scholarship can take out a Doctoral Loan to help with tuition fees and living costs. They provide up to £29,390 for full-time and part-time PhDs in all subject areas.

EU students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance. Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Additional costs

There are some extra costs that you may have to pay, or choose to pay, depending on your programme of study and the decisions you make. The list below has some examples, and any extra costs will vary:

  • Student visas (international students).
  • Books (you’ll have access to many books through the University library, but you may want to buy your own copies).
  • Optional conference/field/archive/library trips (Faculties support some travel and conference attendance financially. Details vary. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Laptop (you’ll have access to laptops and PCs on campus, but you may want to buy your own).
  • Printing and photocopying (There is a printing allowance in place for all students, currently £20 a year. Some Faculties grant PGR students access to printing and photocopying as staff. Please check with the Department/School to which you are applying).
  • Professional-body membership.
  • Graduation (gown hire and photography).

Remember, you’ll still need to take into account your living costs. This could include accommodation, travel and food – to name just a few.

Some postgraduate research students may be asked to pay a bench fee in addition to the tuition fee to cover additional costs of their research project. If such a fee is levied for additional project-specific costs, not included in the tuition fee, you will receive further information during the application process.

For information about bursaries and how to fund your studies see our money page, or take a look at our PhD scholarships page for specific funded PhD opportunities.

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull.

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The University’s Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help.

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the school is here to help you achieve your potential.

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain to slavery.

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Entry requirements

You should normally have, or expect to obtain, at least 2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a related subject.

Please contact your prospective supervisor in the first instance. Once a member of staff has agreed to supervise your research project in principle, please make a formal application.

International students

If you require a student visa to study or if your first language is not English you will be required to provide acceptable evidence of your English language proficiency level.

  • For 2024 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in each competency.
  • For 2025 entry, this course requires IELTS 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in each competency.

See other English language proficiency qualifications accepted by this University.

If your English currently does not reach the University's required standard for this programme, you may be interested in one of our English language courses.

Visit your country page to find out more about our entry requirements.