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Postgraduate Study


The course begins with taught courses offered in around seven core areas: these "Major Topics" are lectured in the Michaelmas term and cover substantial areas of physics. Students may choose to attend three or more of these for examination in the Lent term. In the Lent term, students take three or more shorter specialised "Minor Topic" courses (from about 12) for examination in the Easter term. Substitutes for Major and Minor Topic courses are available from a small subset of courses taught by or shared with other departments. Throughout the year students also work on an assessed research project that contributes to roughly 40% of their mark.

One to one supervision

Students will typically meet with their project supervisor at least every few weeks to review progress.

Seminars & classes

All students are welcome to all of the departmental research seminars.


The Major Topics courses comprise 24 lectures, while the majority of the Minor Topic courses are 12-16 lectures long. Lectures normally run for one hour.

Small group teaching

All lecture courses are supported by small-group sessions, organised and coordinated by the lecturer. These may take the form of example classes, group supervisions or seminars. Typically a student will be offered three to four hours of such support per course.


Depending on the lecturer for each course, students may be expected to submit work (i.e. problem sets) in advance of the small-group sessions for scrutiny or to present their work to those attending the sessions.

It is not usual for submitted work to be returned with detailed annotations. Rather, feedback will be predominantly oral, but lecturers are expected to submit a short written supervision report at the end of each term for each of their students.

Feedback on the research project will be primarily oral and provided during the supervisions, though a short written supervision report at the end of the Lent term will be provided by the project supervisor.


Thesis / Dissertation

The research project will be assessed on the basis of scrutiny of the student's project laboratory notebook and project report of not more than 5,000 words and a short (approx. 30 minutes) oral examination with the project supervisor and another member of staff. Students give an oral presentation on their research project.


Some minor topics may be assessed by coursework or practical work; details of the assessment for each module are published at the start of each year when candidates make their module choices.

Written examination

Candidates will normally take the following:

  • A two-hour unseen examination on each of the three or more of the Major Topic courses. These will be taken at the start of the Lent term.
  • A one-and-a-half-hour unseen examination on each of the three or more of the Minor Topic courses. These will normally be taken at the start of the Easter term.
  • A number of additional unseen examination papers, if the candidate has chosen to take any of the interdisciplinary courses, Part III Mathematics courses, or other shared courses in lieu of any of the Major or Minor Topic papers.


Candidates who have taken the Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Physicists module (if offered), in lieu of a Minor Topic, will be assessed on the basis of the course assignments set by the course co-ordinator.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Advanced Study

Department of Physics

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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