KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Physics Research MPhil/PhD, option of joint PhD with HKU

Apply now


  • Current number of academic staff: 44

  • Current number of postdoctoral research staff: 39

  • Current number of research students: 94 PhD.

It is possible to undertake research leading to the PhD degree in any of the areas of interest of the Physics Department.

If you are interested in a PhD at King's, in the Department of Physics, you should identify research topics and academic staff in your area of interest. Further details of  projects, potential supervisors and research areas can be found on the Group Pages

 Applications are invited for research in the following areas:

  • Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • Photonics and Nanotechnology
  • Theory and Stimulation of Condensed Matter
  • Biological Physics and Soft Matter
  • Experimental Particle & Astroparticle Physics
  • Partner organisations: Our research groups enjoy strong collaborations with institutions around the world including Athens, Cambridge, CERN, Geneva, Imperial College, Jena, McGill, Nottingham, Oxford, Paris 6, Shanghai, Texas Tech, Trieste, Valencia, UCL and ETH Zurich.
  • Joint PhDs available: Exciting opportunities to gain a joint PhD with Hong Kong University

Key information

Duration Expected to be three years FT, four-six years PT. Start usually September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London/King's and HKU for joint programme

Faculty Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences

Department Department of Physics



Explore campuses

Welcome to King's

In the heart of London

Discover the advantages of studying at one of the top 25 universities in the world and take a look at our central London campuses.

Watch more videos

Course detail


The Department has a distinguished history, with the study of Physics at King's College dating back to its foundation in 1829. The first Professor was Sir Charles Wheatstone, with other former professors including James Clerk Maxwell, who discovered the unified equations of electromagnetism while at King's, and four Nobel laureates. The seminal x-ray crystallography work by Wilkins and Franklin which led to the discovery of the structure of DNA, was performed in the Physics Department. The department today has a reputation as a friendly and supportive environment, with research in the department encompassing biophysics, materials science, nanotechnology, and theoretical particle physics and cosmology.

The Department has recently appointed international research leaders to head its three research groups: Professor John Ellis FRS, who has joined King's from CERN to lead the Theoretical Particle Physics & Cosmology Group; Professor Mark van Schilfgaarde, an expert in electronic structure theory, who heads the Materials & Molecular Modelling Group; and Professor Anatoly Zayats, a world-leader in the new field of plasmonics, who leads the Experimental Biophysics & Nantotechnology Group.

Activities in biophysics enjoy strong links with the Randall Division for Cell and Molecular Biophysics in the School of Biomedical Sciences, and the molecular and materials modelling group is part of the London-based Thomas Young Centre for Theory and Simulations of Materials. Research in theoretical physics and cosmology has a particular focus on the interdisciplinary area of astro-particle physics and on LHC phenomenology, with strong links to CERN through an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant held by Prof Ellis.

Joint PhD programme

Exciting opportunities are now available to undertake a joint PhD programme with Hong Kong University.

Course study environment

Each of our research students is associated with a research group and supervised by a member of staff from this group. As part of this supervision you will take part in a monitoring exercise every six months. Your supervisor will help you learn the techniques you may need and advise on training/courses to attend.

We have excellent student facilities, including personal computers and office space for each of our graduate students. There is very extensive online access to journals and an excellent study environment in the College Library. Networking with other graduate students in the College is encouraged through the activities of the Graduate School.

Postgraduate training

All research students attend the School and College-based training in transferable skills. Training needs in specialised research techniques are assessed on an individual basis.

Head of group/division

Head of Department - Professor Peter Main

Biological Physics & Soft Matter - Professor Sergi Garcia-Manyes 

Experimental Particle & Astroparticle Physics - Professor Francesca Di Lodovico

Photonics & Nanotechnology - Professor Anatoly Zayats

Theory & Simulation of Condensed Matter - Professor Mark van Schilfgaarde

Theoretical Particle Physics & Cosmology - Professor John Ellis

Contact for information

Contact the Admissions Office • Before you apply: via our Enquiry Form (www.kcl.ac.uk/study/pg/contacts.aspx#admissions) • After applying: use the messaging service at apply.kcl.ac.uk Postgraduate Officer, Admissions Office Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1648

Course website


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Physics Research Entry Requirements
Minimum UK requirements
  • Photonics and Nanotechnology
  •   Minimum undergraduate degree with 2:1 honours in physics or a related subject.
  • Biological Physics & Soft Matter
  •   Minimum undergraduate degree with 2:1 honours in physics or a related subject.
  • Theory & Simulation of Condensed Matter
  •   Minimum undergraduate degree with 2:1 honours in physics or a related subject. 
  • Theoretical Particle Physics & Cosmology
  • Experimental Particle & Astroparticle Physics

    Master’s degree with Distinction or high Merit  in a relevant subject, and usually a Bachelor of Science with 1st class or higher 2:1 honours. Alternatively a four year MSci with 1st class honours is also acceptable.


    Minimum undergraduate degree with 2:1 honours in physics or a related subject

    International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
    English Language requirements  

    Band E for 2019/20 academic year

    Band D for 2020/21 academic year onwards (i.e. from October 2020 entry)

    Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


    Those applying for the joint degree are encouraged to contact an academic at King's to develop research links with the partner institution.

    Application procedure

    Your application is assessed by a relevant academic member of staff, and we aim to respond to you within four to six weeks. We interview most students living in the UK, and may hold telephone or email interviews for those overseas.

    September, January, and April start dates available. Applicants are strongly encouraged to start their degree at beginning of the academic year in September, when the College offers a full induction programme.

    ATAS  An ATAS certificate is required for successful applicants applying for this course whose nationality is outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. For further guidance on obtaining an ATAS certificate can be found on our International Student Advice pages.

    Personal statement and supporting information

    You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

    Physics Research checklist
    Personal Statement Yes

    A personal statement is required. This can be entered directly into the online application form (maximum 4,000 characters) or uploaded as an attachment to the online application form (maximum 2 pages). Please specify the area of research that interests you.

    Research Proposal Optional  Note that a detailed research proposal is not necessarily required. You should state at least an area of interest, as precisely as you want, and/or names of potential supervisors. The proposal should explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it. For advice on how to write a winning application, please visit the following page.
    Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
    References Yes One reference is required, professional references will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
    Other Optional You may also wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application


    Course intake

    Approximately 10.

    Joint PhDs - Application advice

    Applicants for the Joint PhD programme must contact the relevant departments at both universities before submitting an application in order to discuss the suitability of their topic for the joint programme and to locate potential supervisors. Applications should initially be submitted to the proposed home institution only, ie where the student will start and finish their programme. Students should note that acceptance onto the programme may take slightly longer than for single-institution PhDs because of the additional steps involved. Further details, including FAQs, can be found on the King’s Worldwide web pages.

    Applicants who choose King’s as their home institution should apply through the online system, selecting the appropriate Joint PhD option from the drop-down list. In addition to the standard supporting documentation, applicants should submit a Travel Plan form indicating how they intend to divide their time between the two partner institutions. Students must spend a specified amount of time in each institution, details of which can be found in the ‘Notes’ section of the Travel plan form.

    It is recommended that students submit applications for the Joint PhD programme by the end of March to begin the following September.

    Application closing date

    The final deadlines for applicants with Home, EU or overseas (international) fee status are detailed below. Please note that funding applications deadlines may be earlier. We will open applications for the corresponding intake in 2022 after the same intake has passed in 2021.  

    • February 2021 entry – 23rd October 2020 for international applicants and 23rd November 2020 for Home/EU applicants 

    • June 2021 entry - 12th April 2021 for international and Home/EU applicants 

    • October 2021 entry – 30th July 2021 for international/EU applicants and 27th August 2021 for Home applicants 

    • February 2022 entry – 12th November 2021 for international/EU applicants and 6th December 2021 for Home applicants 

    • June 2022 entry – 1st April 2022 for international/EU applicants and 11th April 2022 for Home applicants 

    Applications for 2022/23 academic year will open from October 2021. 

    Help and support

    If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

    Preparation courses

    Fees and funding

    UK Tuition Fees 2020/21

    Full time tuition fees:

    £5,550 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research)

    £5,550  per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research with University of Hong Kong)

    Part time tuition fees: £2,780 per year

    International Tuition Fees 2020/21

    Full time tuition fees:

    £ 24,570 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research)

    £ 24,570 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research with the University of Hong Kong)

    Part time tuition fees: £12,285 per year 

    UK Tuition Fees 2021/22

    Full time tuition fees:

    £5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research)

    £5,820  per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research with University of Hong Kong)

    Part time tuition fees: £2,910 per year

    International Tuition Fees 2021/22

    Full time tuition fees:

    £ 25,800 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research)

    £ 25,800 per year (MPhil/PhD, Physics Research with the University of Hong Kong)

    Part time tuition fees: £12,900 per year 

    EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees.

    These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

    Financial help and support

    Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


    Blue box with King's College London rankings. Starting with, 7th in the UK for research quality. Followed by, 6th in the UK for research power. Concluding with, 4th among multi-faculty universities for research Impact. The source is research excellence framework 2014

    Next steps

    Upcoming events

    Full list of student events

    View our postgraduate guide

    Learn more about postgraduate degree programmes at King's.

    View guide

    Sound like the course for you?

    Apply now

    Explore King’s

    Accommodation Take a look at our comfortable, safe residences to suit your budget, located close to King's teaching campuses. 
    Student life Art, food, music, shopping – you'll never find yourself with nothing to do in the world's most vibrant city.
    Extra-curricular Discover the huge variety of extra-curricular opportunities at King’s, from MOOCs to language courses.
    London living With four campuses by the River Thames and one in south London, King's is right in the heart of the capital.