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PhD or MSc?

Both the 12-month MSc and 3 - 4 year PhD are research degrees. The main differences and requirements are outlined here. You can also find further details of the PhD programme.

Degree Requirements

Students having an honours degree in physics or in an appropriate related discipline (such as materials science, electronics, mathematics or physical chemistry) may apply to register for the degrees of MSc or PhD.

Registration for a PhD normally requires either:

  • a first class honours BSc
  • a first or upper second class honours MSci or MPhys
  • at least a lower second class honours BSc plus an MSc (taught or by research).

Registration for the one year MSc by Research requires:

  • at least a lower second class honours BSc, MSci or MPhys

English Language Requirements

For students whose first language is not English, we normally require a score of 6.5 in IELTS or equivalent. It is possible to arrange in-sessional English support for candidates who have just missed this target but can demonstrate sufficient communication ability at interview.
If your score is below 6.0 IELTS equivalent you may be able to study a pre-sessional course as part of a "bundled" offer of English language tuition + MSc / PhD. Further information on English language requirements is given by the International Office.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  • This degree emphasises research training and original research. There is also a component of advanced tuition via the Midlands Physics Alliance (MPAGS) as well as transferable skill development throughout.
  • Most applications are made in December/January, but applications are accepted all year round and start dates are flexible.
  • PhDs at the Warwick Physics Department are typically funded for 3.5 years (and usually take no longer than this to complete). All PhD students are registered for 4 years by default.
  • Various funding opportunities are available such as scholarships and Research Council studentships.
  • The Warwick Physics department participates actively in interdisciplinary research through doctoral training centres and with other departments.
  • Further details of the PhD programme of study can be found here.


Master of Science by Research (MSc)

  • This degree emphasises training and original research on a specialised project. These are in similar areas to PhD projects, but must be completed in 12 months and so are more focused.
  • Applications for the MSc by Research degree can be made at any time with several start dates throughout the year.
  • A first or second class honours degree in Physics or a related subject, or an equivalent qualification, is required.
  • Funding (university fees and stipend) is not normally available for the MSc by Research.
  • IMPORTANT: Please contact the Graduate Admissions Tutor to discuss the area of research you are interested in.




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“I chose Warwick for its great reputation for research”
Postgraduate Applicant, 2014
"I chose Warwick based on its reputation and quality of research. I thought the postgraduate course here would give me a chance to learn a wide range of skills necessary for a career in research"
Current Postgraduate, 2013