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Postgraduate Study

About the Department of Physics

The Department of Physics, or the Cavendish Laboratory as it is widely known, has a long history of world leading research and teaching. The Cavendish is home to approximately 430 graduate students  and admits students to six different programmes although the  the majority are studying for a PhD in one of the 15 research groups

Our seven research themes span the full range of research activities being carried out in the Laboratory and reflect national research priorities. Many themes cover the work of more than one research group, encouraging new associations and cross-disciplinary collaboration. While the core of our research programme is in experimental physics, essential theoretical support is provided by theorists embedded within the astrophysics and high energy physics research groups, while the condensed matter theory group are strongly cross-disciplinary and contribute to most of the themes.


7 courses offered in the Department of Physics

The development of new materials lies at the heart of many of the technological challenges we currently face, for example creating advanced materials for energy generation. Computational modelling plays an increasingly important role in the understanding, development and optimisation of new materials.

This four-year doctoral training programme on computational methods for material modelling aims to train scientists not only in the use of existing modelling methods but also in the underlying computational and mathematical techniques. This will allow students to develop and enhance existing methods, for instance by introducing new capabilities and functionalities, and also to create innovative new software tools for materials modelling in industrial and academic research.

The first year of the doctoral training programme is provided by the existing MPhil course in Scientific Computing, which has research and taught elements, as well as additional training elements. The final three years consist of a PhD research project, with a student-led choice of projects offered by researchers closely associated with the CDT.

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The MPhil in Data Intensive Science is a 10-month cross-departmental programme in the School of the Physical Sciences which aims to provide education of the highest quality at the master’s level. The programme covers the full range of skills required for modern data-driven science from the fields of machine learning and AI, statistical data analysis, and research computing.  

The course structure has been designed in collaboration with our leading researchers and industrial partners to provide students with the theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and transferable skills required to undertake world-leading data-intensive scientific research. Students will gain the broad set of skills required for scientific data analysis, covering traditional statistical techniques as well as modern machine learning approaches.  Both the theoretical underpinnings and practical implementation of these techniques will be taught, with the later aspect including training on software development best practice and the principles of Open Science. The course also aims to provide students with direct experience applying these methods to current research problems in specific scientific fields. Students who have completed the course will be equipped to undertake research on data-intensive scientific projects. Beyond academic disciplines, students will be well prepared for a career as a data science professional in a broad range of commercial sectors.

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The vision of this MRes+PhD is to deliver bespoke training in key areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology to translate exploratory nanoscience into impactful technologies, and to stimulate new interactions that support our vision. The MRes year provides high-quality advanced-level training through lecture courses, hands-on practicals and projects, prior to final selection of interdisciplinary PhD research projects within research groups in the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Materials Science or another relevant department across the University.

A significant element of the MRes training and beyond will be a focus on innovation and industry engagement, including courses on nurturing and managing innovation in a scientific context, systems design and integration of nanomaterials and devices, the responsible practice and communication of science, and opportunities to transition academic research to higher technology readiness levels and commercial applications through schemes such as the NanoFutures Leadership Awards.

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The MASt in Physics is a taught master's-level course in which students who applied from outside the University of Cambridge work alongside students taking the final year of the integrated undergraduate-and-master's course in Physics. This year is designed for students who wish to pursue a professional career in physics, (in academic or industrial research) and who are already familiar with the physics covered in a typical three-year UK bachelor's physics programme.

MASt students study alongside the fourth-year students taking the physics part of the integrated Cambridge Natural Science course, commonly referred to as Part III physics. Details of the current Part III physics course can be found on the Department of Physics website.

The MASt in Physics should not be confused with the MASt courses in Mathematics and in Astrophysics, each of which provides an alternative taught master's course with physics components.

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The MPhil is offered by the Department of Physics as a full-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge. Students are integrated into the research culture of the Department by joining a research group. They are expected to attend the Department’s programme of research seminars and other postgraduate courses but most research training is provided within the group structure and overseen by their supervisor.

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The PhD in Physics is a full-time period of research which introduces or builds upon, research skills and specialist knowledge. Applications for part-time study may also be considered but there are attendance requirements that need to be fulfilled. Students are assigned to a research supervisor, a specialist in part or all of the student's chosen research field, and join a research group which might vary in size between a handful to many tens of individuals. Details of the various research groups can be found on the Research Groups page on the Department of Physics website.

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The MPhil programme in Scientific Computing is based in the Department of Physics and is a full-time 12-month course which aims to provide education of the highest quality at master’s level. Covering topics on all aspects of numerical simulation including high-performance scientific computing and advanced numerical methods, it produces postgraduates with rigorous research and analytical skills, who are well equipped to proceed to doctoral research or directly into employment in industry, the professions, and public service. It also provides training for the academic researchers and teachers of the future, encouraging the pursuit of research in computational methods for science and technology disciplines, thus being an important gateway for entering PhD programmes containing a substantial component of computational modelling.

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3 courses also advertised in the Department of Physics

From the Department of Chemistry

This cutting-edge Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (SynTech) aims to develop a new generation of leaders in synthetic chemistry research with a focus on Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence-driven techniques. 

Please note: The SynTech CDT programme is usually offered to full-time students due to the nature of the compulsory training during the first year, but applicants wishing to pursue part-time study are also welcome to apply. Part-time study will be considered on a case-by-case basis, so please discuss this option with the CDT-coordinator before making an application for this mode of study. The training programme and  associated timelines, for example the submission of reports, will be adjusted correspondingly.

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From the School of the Biological Sciences

The Cambridge Biosciences DTP is a four year PhD programme that aims to create highly skilled and employable people. The programme offers training across 23 University Departments/Institutes and 3 Partner Institutes providing access to a wide range of research areas related to the strategic themes of the BBSRC. We offer three types of DTP studentships:

During the programme, DTP Standard and Targeted students will undertake two ten-week rotations in different labs before commencing their PhD. They will receive training in a variety of areas including but not limited to statistics, programming, ethics, data analysis, scientific writing and public engagement. Students will also undertake a 12-week internship (PIPS).

iCASE students are not required to undertake rotations, but may do so if they feel that this training would be useful. They must undertake a placement with their Industrial Partner for a minimum of three months and a maximum of 18 months.

Students will be expected to submit their thesis at the end of the fourth year.

Part-time study, whilst not the norm, may be viable, depending on the project, and will be considered on a case by case basis so please discuss this option with your proposed supervisor before making an application for this mode of study.

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From the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

The MPhil in Micro and Nanotechnology Enterprise is an exciting opportunity in which world-leading scientists and successful entrepreneurs are brought together to deliver a one-year master’s degree combining an in-depth multidisciplinary scientific programme with a global perspective on the commercial opportunities and business practice necessary for the successful exploitation in the rapidly developing fields of nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing.

The programme is intended for those with a good first degree in the physical sciences and relevant areas of engineering, who wish to develop research skills and commercial awareness of the cutting-edge disciplines of micro- and nanotechnology. The course will provide an unparalleled educational experience for entrepreneurs in these fields.

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