skip to content

Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Scientific Computing is no longer accepting new applications.


The taught element comprises core lecture courses on topics of all aspects of scientific computing, and elective lecture courses relevant to the topic of the research project.

There is equal examination credit weighting between the taught and the research elements of the course, which is gained by submitting a dissertation on the project and by written assignments and examinations on the core and elective courses, respectively.

Weighting of the assessed course components is as follows: dissertation (research) 50 per cent; written assignments 25 per cent; and written examinations 25 per cent.

The core lectures are on topics of high-performance scientific computing, numerical analysis and advanced numerical methods and techniques. They are organised by the Centre for Scientific Computing and are taught and examined during the first six months (October–March). Their purpose is to provide students with essential background knowledge for completing their dissertation and for their general education in scientific computing.

In particular, their objective is to introduce students to the simulation science pipeline of problem identification, modelling, simulation and evaluation – all from the perspective of employing high-performance computing (HPC). Numerical discretisation of mathematical models will be a priority, with a specific emphasis on understanding the trade-offs (in terms of modelling time, pre-processing time, computational time, and post-processing time) that must be made when solving realistic science and engineering problems. Understanding and working with computational methods and parallel computing will be a high priority. To help the students understand the material, the lecturers will furnish the courses with practical coursework assignments.

The lectures on topics of numerical analysis and HPC are complemented with hands-on practicals using Linux-based computers provided by the course (students may bring their own), as well as on the University’s high-performance computing service.

Appropriate elective lecture courses are selected from master’s-level courses offered by the departments of the School of Physical Sciences, Technology or Biological Sciences. The choice of courses will be such as to provide the students with essential background knowledge for completing their dissertations and for their general education in the materials science application of the project. They are decided in consultation with the project supervisor. While every effort is made within the departments to arrange the timetable in a coherent fashion, it is inevitable that some combinations of courses will be ruled out by their schedule, particularly if the choices span more than one department.

During Lent and Easter terms students undertake examinations, written assignments, and work on their research project.

One to one supervision

Students are under the general direction of the course director. Each student is assigned a research project supervisor who guides the student's choice of courses and responds to the student's requests for supervisory guidance.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

The course has a seminar programme which invites academic and industrial speakers. The students also give presentations of their research work as part of their mid-term assessment.


Students will take lectures, practicals and classes equivalent to around 70 contact hours in (for example) scientific high-performance computing and computational modelling, as well as lectures from other master’s-level courses across the University, on topics related to their research project.


The lectures on topics of computational modelling and HPC are complemented with hands-on practicals on local computers as well as on the University’s high-performance computing service.

Small group teaching

Small-group teaching ("supervisions") is offered on the lecture courses; this includes both one-to-one and group supervisions.

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews form part of the written assignments and the research project dissertation.

Posters and Presentations

The students have to give presentations on their research project as part of their mid-term assessment and have to present a poster at their viva voce examinations.


Feedback on the student’s performance on their examination and on the written assignment results is provided by the course director; feedback on their research project progress is provided by their research project supervisor. Students receive written termly progress reports.

Postgraduate students are represented on the Department's Postgraduate Student Consultative Committee, which normally meets five times a year, and consists of one or more student representatives from each of the research groups. The committee exists to enable discussion of any issue affecting postgraduate studies and students may approach any member of the committee to suggest items for discussion.


Thesis / Dissertation

The topic of the project (and hence the choice of supervisor) should fall within the research interests of the groups within the departments of the Schools of Physical Sciences, Technology and Biological Sciences. The project is supervised by a member of the research groups of the departments of the school. To gain examination credit for the research element (50 per cent credit towards the degree), students have to submit in August a 15,000-word (maximum) dissertation on a substantial project of original research.

The viva voce examination of the dissertation will take place during late August or September, conducted by two examiners and carried out according to the relevant University regulations. The assessment of the projects is based on the candidate's understanding of the background literature, the commitment of the candidate to the project, the degree of originality shown in the research and the degree of rigour applied in justifying any conclusions.


Written assignments amounting to six credit units (a 24-hour course yields four units, a 16-hour course 2.5 units, a 12-hour course two units, and a six-hour course one unit).

Written examination

Written examination papers amounting to six credit units (a 24-hour course yields four units, a 16-hour course 2.5 units, a 12-hour course two units, and a six-hour course one unit).

Key Information

12 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Physics This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
May 16, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.

Similar Courses