Physics and Astronomy

The wide range of expertise within the School of Physics and Astronomy enables the School to offer a variety of opportunities for higher degrees by research.

The School specialises in a wide range of research areas and postgraduate students are fully integrated into these areas.

We aim to offer a challenging and supportive environment, in which our students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in industry, research or academia. We have an established track record of research excellence and host world-class laboratories to support our wide range of research activities. Research in the School also involves worldwide collaborations and the use of leading-edge national and international facilities.

You will be supervised by a team of experts who will support your progress and help you to achieve your potential. You will be assigned a mentor from another research group who will act as your personal tutor.

Programme aims

To offer knowledge and expertise for a career in the academic world, industry or to pursue a variety of other opportunities in which a strong background in physics, astrophysics or computing is useful and important.

Distinctive features

  • Research students take specialist academic courses and courses to develop their communication and personal skills.
  • There is a full programme of seminars and the individual research groups hold regular meetings where members present new results and discuss their research in detail.
  • There is an annual postgraduate conference and a research student poster competition.
  • There are active collaborations with research groups overseas and regular attendance at major international conferences by staff and students.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD, MPhil
Full-time duration PhD 3-4 years, MPhil 1-2 years
Part-time duration PhD 5-7 years, MPhil 2-3 years
Start dates January, April, July, October

Research areas

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Astronomy Instrumentation

Astronomy Instrumentation is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Condensed Matter and Photonics

Condensed Matter and Photonics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Gravitational Physics

Gravitational Physics is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Physics and Astronomy research programmes (MPhil, PhD).

Data mining at the South Galactic Pole

Automated methods of extracting the properties of millions of galaxies from survey data and identifying new classes of rare objects.

Machine learning to extract gravitatonal wave transients

Identifying astrophysical gravitational wave transients from events such as supernovae.

Machine learning to maximise the impact of ALMA

Development of new, automated methods for identifying sources in data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

Extracting weak Gravitional Wave events

Use of machine learning techniques to identify and classify weak gravitational wave events in data from the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

Searching for Cosmic Anomalies

This project will involve developing, testing and applying innovative statistical analysis techniques to real and simulated data sets.

Tunable THz laser source

A fully tunable and efficient source of THz radiation is required for a large number of security and medical applications.

Perovskite Photonics

This project will develop an approach to synthesize/fabricate perovskite nanostructures with control on their size (at the nanometre scale), shape and position using a technique known as ‘atomic-layer-deposition’

Revealing Astronomical and Archaeological Information from Satellite Imaging Data (AA - Reveal)

The proposed project is to look at the further development of the astronomical software and to particularly consider its application to archaeological surveys.

Energy Harvesting for Autonomous Systems

A key part of the vision of the Internet of Things is the large number of autonomous sensors relaying information back through the web.

Automated Searches for Ultra-Diffuse Emission from Stars

We are particularly interested in the fraction of stars that lie outside of easily recognised galactic structures as a means of tracing the assembly history of dark matter haloes of various masses.

InSb Quantum Electronics

This project will be investigating the technology for an electric field controlled, spin-based qubit made from indium antimonide (InSb) and half metallic alloys.

Majorana Fermions

Through electrical study this project will explore state-of-the-art Indium Antimonide (InSb) based quantum well heterostructures that have the largest SOC of all the compound semiconductors, and investigate MZM formation at the interface with superconducting material.

Single crystal analysis of frustrated magnetic systems, using the world's leading powder diffraction instrument

This project would extend the use of WISH to cover robust single crystal analysis of diffuse scattering and weak Bragg peak data with in-situ measurements to extend our fundamental understanding of frustrated magnetic systems.

Topologically protected domain walls in cylindrical magnetic nanowires

Topological protection is an excellent means to maintain the integrity of information within next generation data storage devices

Electrical conductivity modelling in electro/magnetoencephalography (E/MEG)

Electro/magnetoencephalography (E/MEG) are techniques that consist in measuring the electric potential/magnetic field originating from the brain using non-invasive sensors.

Nanostructured Compound Semiconductor Solar Cells

This project aims to demonstrate this much-needed product to fill-in the gap in the current solar cell market.

Exciton-phonon-photon dynamics and coherent coupling of quantum dots embedded in photonic cavities

This project aims to study theoretically the coherent dynamics of optical excitations (excitons) in single and multiple semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) strongly coupled to photonic cavities.

Controlled coherent coupling of single quantum dots in photonic crystal cavity networks

Technological advances in light detectors and microscopy techniques during the last decade have allowed the investigation of the emission properties of individual localized light emitters.

Quantum coherence and carrier dynamics in colloidal nanostructures from dots to 1D and 2D materials

Colloidal nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots are relatively simple to manufacture, widely tuneable in shape and size and can be made of a large range of materials.

Resonant state expansion for optical biosensing, fibre optics and mode control in microlasers

The resonant state expansion (RSE) is a new powerful theoretical method in electrodynamics and wave optics, recently invented in Cardiff.

Funded project

If you are applying for an advertised funded project then you don't need to provide a research proposal. You only need to provide the following:

  • Funded project title
  • Personal statement
  • CV

Self-funded project

If you are applying for a self-funded project then you need to provide the following:

  • Research proposal
  • Personal statement
  • CV

Suitable for graduates with a first or upper-second class honours degree in Physics, Astrophysics, Mathematics, Electronics or a related subject, depending on the research area.

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS). Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

Postgraduate Admissions Team

School of Physics and Astronomy

Academic contact(s)

Dr Giampaolo Pisano

Director of Postgraduate Research


Apply now
Tuition fee discount of £3,400 for eligible Welsh and EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2018.

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