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MSc Students

Deadlines for each of the activities described below appear in the Postgraduate Timetable.

Project outline

Within the first week, each student will receive an outline of their research project and a project plan, identifying achievable milestones. The outline should be discussed with your supervisor, who will also provide a list of reading matter of relevance to the project. This will comprise some highly project-specific material and some background material of general relevance to your project.

By week 4 you are required to submit the outline and list of agreed key texts. This will contain:

  • Project Title
  • Brief outline of the project (~200 words)
  • Introductory reading list: to include at least 5 key texts (e.g. review papers, specialised scientific papers, chapters of text-books, previous theses on related topics) to introduce the general field of research and get the student to start thinking about their project (bearing in mind their undergraduate background).
  • Initial tasks: a list of those things the student will actually do in the period Oct-Dec. These may include such things as learning new experimental or mathematical techniques, programming languages, sample preparation or changing pump oil.
  • Milestones that should be met, to enable the student to gauge their progress.
  • Any taught modules that should be attended, which may include final year undergraduate, MPAGS or equivalent modules. Please see the Physics Graduate School pages for details.

This plan should be agreed between the student and supervisor; submission will be taken to mean agreement has been reached. Where the plans are not satisfactory the Director of Graduates may require the student to submit a revised version and/or attend an interview.

You should submit your project outline in SkillsForge once feedback has been received from your feedback supervisor.

Progress Report and Thesis Plan

A progress report of at least 3000 words is to be submitted after six months (usually Easter or equivalent date). By this time most of the experimental work / calculations should be complete. The report should clearly indicate the progress to date and may contain material that could be used in the introductory chapters of your MSc thesis. The report will:

  • briefly review the chosen project field, putting the work in context
  • report on the research work completed
  • show what still needs to be done to complete the MSc research
  • contain a draft thesis plan, with detail of the contents down to sub-heading level, an indication of page numbers and the state of completeness of each section
  • include a detailed timetable for completion of the research and writing the thesis

After discussing your report and plan with your Supervisor, you should submit your Progress Report & Thesis Plan to your Feedback supervisor by email, copying, by 08/04/2024

Progress Interview

Following completion of your Progress Report and Thesis Plan, there will be a short interview to discuss your progress towards completion of the MSc with the Director of Graduate Studies which will normally take place in the second week of May.


Students are encouraged to attend any relevant graduate or undergraduate lectures that may be beneficial to their project work. The series of graduate lectures are offered as part of Physics Graduate School, which although they are specifically aimed at PhD students may also be of use to Masters students. In addition, frequent use is made of Physics undergraduate lectures and graduate lectures in Departments across the university.

In some cases attendance will be obligatory if stipulated either by their supervisor(s) or by the Director of Graduate Studies. Supervisors must notify the Director of Graduate Studies of any prescribed lectures and, if it is considered appropriate to monitoring your progress, you may be examined on these. Note that there is no requirement for MSc students to take a particular number of modules as these will be prescribed according to individual needs.

Departmental Colloquia and Research Group Seminars

Physics Colloquia are open to the whole department are held each fortnight during full term, usually on Wednesday starting at 4:30pm in PLT. These aim to bring a wide variety of cutting edge research from high profile speakers to the attention of a general audience of physicists. The level is suitable for all staff, postgraduates and final year MPhys students.

In addition, the various research groups have their own seminars and it is usual practise for all research students to attend.

Thesis Submission

For information on thesis writing and submission