Postgraduate study
This course provides an introduction to the physical principles and mathematical techniques of current research in a range of areas.
MSc Gravity, Particles and Fields
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in physics, mathematical physics or mathematics, or joint degrees containing substantial elements of physics or mathematics
Other requirements
Previous knowledge of mechanics, quantum mechanics, special relativity and methods of mathematical physics (all as taught typically at BSc level 2) is required
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£9,450 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
University Park Campus



Key facts

  • Join a top 10 ranked school for research power and research quality in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2014)
  • Learn from experts in the School of Mathematical Sciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Unlock your potential with an independent research project, working alongside our research groups

Ideal for students who are interested in mathematical physics, this course will give you knowledge in general relativity, quantum gravity, particle physics, quantum field theory, quantum information theory, cosmology and the early universe. Our course has a focus on gravity which reflects our research strengths. 

A highlight of the course is the substantial research project that allows you to develop your interests and expertise in a specific topic at the forefront of current research. This course is closely linked to the following research groups:

The masters will give you the skills and knowledge to help you accelerate your career. Many graduates continue studying for a PhD whereas others will enter scientific roles.    

Meet your Course Director

Madalin Guta
Dr Madalin Guta
Course Director

I am an Associate Professor at the School of Mathematical Sciences. My research lies at the interface between Quantum Physics, Statistics and Probability and Control Theory. My MSc module on Quantum Information offers a popular introduction to a rapidly developing field of science and technology. As Course Director, I insure the smooth running of the MSc activities, coordinate with lecturers and tutors, and act as a contact point and career advisor for MSc students. 

Student stories

Lucia | Gravity, Particles and Fields student

Academic English preparation and support

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent. You could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.


Full course details

The course will begin with introductory material on general relativity and its mathematical language of differential geometry. You will then continue with more advanced modules with applications to the study of black holes, cosmology and aspects of general relativity related to string theory.

There is a year-long introduction to quantum field theory which introduces the famous Feynman diagrams of particle physics in a systematic way, and studies aspects of modern particle physics. There is also an introduction to the concepts of quantum information theory.

The course assumes you have a familiarity with quantum mechanics and special relativity at an introductory level. No prior knowledge of general relativity is assumed. 

Teaching and assessment

Modules are mainly delivered through lectures and example and/or problem classes. For the research project, you will work independently under the supervision of a member of academic staff.

The course has 180 credits of which 120 are from the taught modules and 60 are from the research project that is undertaken in the summer.

Assessment varies on the module being studied but typically you can expect:

  • written exams at the end of each semester
  • essays
  • coursework
  • presentations
  • dissertation

What you'll learn

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing the course should have demonstrated:

  • Knowledge and understanding of a range of mathematical core concepts and results in gravitation and quantum theory
  • Knowledge and understanding of some advanced concepts and techniques related to current research in gravitation and quantum theory
  • Awareness of some current problems and new insights in gravitation and quantum theory
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the critical evaluation of current research, methodology or advanced scholarship
  • The ability to apply knowledge in the discipline to novel problems


Students successfully completing the course should be able to: 

  • Apply complex concepts, methods and techniques to familiar and novel situations
  • Work with abstract concepts and in a context of generality
  • Reason logically and work analytically
  • Perform with high level of accuracy
  • Relate mathematical results to their physical applications
  • Transfer expertise between different topics in mathematical physics
  • Select and apply appropriate methods and techniques to solve problems
  • Justify conclusions using mathematical arguments with appropriate rigour
  • Communicate results using appropriate styles, conventions and terminology
  • Use appropriate IT packages effectively
  • Communicate with clarity
  • Work effectively, independently and under direction
  • Adopt effective strategies for study

Student support

You will be allocated a personal tutor at the beginning of the course with regular meetings scheduled throughout the year. Your personal tutor is your first point of contact for any issues you may have, both academically and personally. They can also help you access wider University services.


Prerequisite information

Here are a few maths books that can be used to remind yourself of prerequisite material. 

  • Classical Mechanics by Kibble and Berkshire (In particular, it is worth looking at Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics in Ch10, 11 and 12)
  • Quantum Mechanics Demystified by David McMahon
  • Flat and curved space-times by George F. Ellis and Ruth M. Williams (The first part covers special relativity and the second part will be useful for the MSc course)
  • Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering: A Comprehensive Guide by K. F. Riley, M. P. Hobson, S. J. Bence (the key topics are vector calculus/analysis, Fourier series and Fourier transforms, the Laplace equation, the heat equation, the wave equation, complex variables and contour integration)

For the modules taught during the masters, here are a few suggestions for preliminary reading that will introduce some of the ideas in a fairly non-technical way. These aren't supposed to cover all the module material but are there just to get you started.

  • General Relativity, black holes and cosmology: Flat and curved space-times by George F. Ellis and Ruth M. Williams
  • Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity by J.B. Hartle
  • Quantum Field Theory: Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell by A. Zee. This book has a very good discussion of the concepts but does get to quite advanced topics (some of which are not in the masters) 
  • QED The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, by R.P. Feynman





This module provides an introduction to the modern theory of gravitation based on Einstein's general theory of relativity. Topics to be covered include: basic elements of geometry, special relativity, equivalence principle, general relativity and curved spacetime, Schwarzschild solution, solar system tests of general relativity, and Schwarzschild black hole.

Advanced Gravity

This module will develop the ideas behind General Relativity (GR) to an advanced level. GR is based on the geometry of four dimensional space-time, the curvature of which is governed by the Einstein’s equations. Some solutions to these equations will be presented, including black holes and cosmological solutions. Gravity in the weak field limit will be derived from the full theory, demonstrating how you should understand the gravitational interaction in terms of graviton exchange. The module will then move on to advanced topics. This includes modified gravity models (eg models with extra dimensions) that are at the forefront of current research.

Modern Cosmology

This module starts off with an introduction to Friedmann models and hot big bang, followed by a review of thermal history, freezeout, relics, recombination, last scattering, and dark matter candidates. Further topics include structure formation, gravitational lensing and its use in detecting dark matter, CMB anisotropies and the lambda CDM model, inflation theory and fluctuations from inflation, and dark energy. 

Differential Geometry

The modern study of general relativity requires familiarity with a number of tools of differential geometry, including manifolds, symmetries, Lie Groups, differentiation and integration on manifolds. These are introduced using examples of curved space-times.

Black Holes

General relativity predicts the existence of black holes which are regions of space-time into which objects can be sent but from which no classical objects can escape. This module uses techniques learned in Differential Geometry to systematically study black holes and their properties, including horizons and singularities. Astrophysical processes involving black holes are discussed, and there is a brief introduction to black hole radiation discovered by Hawking.

Gravity, Particles and Fields Dissertation 

This is the substantial investigation that you will carry out on a topic related to the taught modules of the course. The study will be largely self-directed, with oversight and input provided by a supervisor from the School of Mathematical Sciences or the School of Physics and Astronomy. The topic will be chosen from a list of potential projects provided by the school. The topic could be based on a theoretical investigation, a review of research literature, or a combination of the two.

Quantum Field Theory

Quantum Field Theory is the study of the quantum dynamics of relativistic particles. This module gives the quantum description of the electrons, photons and other elementary particles, including a discussion of spin, and bosons and fermions. Lectures will provide an introduction to functional integrals, Feynman diagrams, and the standard model of particle physics.

Introduction to Quantum Information Service

This module gives an introduction to Quantum Information Theory and its applications. We start by introducing the mathematical formalism of quantum theory, including notions of linear operators and tensor products, followed by the operational framework involving the fundamental concepts of states, measurements, and entanglement. In the second part we discuss the basic but influential results in the field such as quantum teleportation, Bell's theorem, and quantum cryptography. This is followed by an introduction to quantum computation and quantum algorithms, the analysis of the structure of noisy quantum channels, and basic notions of quantum error correction theory.


The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

UK/EU students

Tuition fees

Current information on course tuition fees can be found on the finance pages.

As a student on this course, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies which you would need to factor into your budget.

Graduate School

The Graduate School provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

International students

Tuition fees

Current information on course tuition fees can be found on the finance pages.

School scholarships for UoN UK alumni

For 2019/20 entry, 10% alumni scholarships may be offered to former University of Nottingham graduates who have studied at the UK campus.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.


Careers and professional development

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 100% of postgraduates in the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £30,800 with the highest being £60,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers – ranked in the top 10 in The Graduate Market 2013-2019, High Fliers Research.

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our  Careers and Employability Service.

Our  Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.


Related courses and downloads


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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