The Master of Science in Mathematics (120 ECTS) is a research-based master’s programme in which you can specialize in the following fields of mathematics: Pure Mathematics: Algebra, Analysis and Geometry; and Applied Mathematics: Statistics, Financial Mathematics, Computational Mathematics, Plasma-Astrophysics.
Besides a solid, all-round education in mathematics, the programme offers you the possibility to focus on either pure or applied mathematics. This allows you to acquire both breadth of knowledge and depth in your own areas of interest. Pure and applied mathematics courses are firmly grounded in the core research activities of the Department of Mathematics. Gradually, you will gain experience and autonomy in learning how to cope with new concepts, higher levels of abstraction, new techniques, new applications, and new results. This culminates in the Master’s thesis, where you become actively involved in the research performed in the various mathematical research groups of the Departments of Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy and Computer Sciences.
This is an initial Master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.
The programme of the Master of Science in Mathematics consists of 120 ECTS. You choose one of the two profiles – Pure Mathematics or Applied Mathematics (54 ECTS) – and one of the two options – Research Option or Professional Option (30 ECTS). The profile allows you to specialize either in pure mathematics (algebra, geometry, analysis), or in applied mathematics (statistics, computational mathematics, fluid dynamics).
There is one common course: ‘Mathematics of the 21st Century’ (6 ECTS). To complete the programme, you carry out a research project that results in a master’s thesis (30 ECTS).
All staff members of the Department of Mathematics are actively involved in the two-year Master of Science in Mathematics programme. The academic staff at the Department of Mathematics consists of leading experts in their fields. Researchers in pure mathematics focus on algebraic geometry, group theory, differential geometry, functional analysis, and complex analysis. Researchers in mathematical statistics deal with extreme values, robust statistics, non-parametric statistics, and financial mathematics. Research in the applied mathematics group is in computational fluid dynamics and plasma-astrophysics.
Mathematicians find employment in industry and in the banking, insurance, and IT sectors. Many graduates from the research option pursue a career in research and start a PhD in mathematics, mathematical physics, astrophysics, engineering, or related fields.
What are the laws of nature governing the universe from elementary particles to the formation and evolution of the solar system, stars, and galaxies? In the Master’s Programme in Particle Physics and Astrophysical Sciences, you will focus on gaining a quantitative understanding of these phenomena.
With the expertise in basic research that you will gain in the programme, you can pursue a career in research. You will also acquire proficiency in the use of mathematical methods, IT tools and/or experimental equipment, as well as strong problem-solving and logical deduction skills. These will qualify you for a wide range of positions in the private sector.
After completing the programme, you will:
The teaching in particle physics and astrophysical sciences is largely based on the basic research. Basic research conducted at the University of Helsinki has received top ratings in international university rankings. The in-depth learning offered by international research groups will form a solid foundation for your lifelong learning.
Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.
The understanding of the microscopic structure of matter, astronomical phenomena and the dynamics of the universe is at the forefront of basic research today. The advancement of such research in the future will require increasingly sophisticated theoretical, computational and experimental methods.
The study track in elementary particle physics and cosmology focuses on experimental or theoretical particle physics or cosmology. The theories that form our current understanding of these issues must be continuously re-evaluated in the light of new experimental results. In addition to analytical computation skills, this requires thorough mastery of numerical analysis methods. In experimental particle physics, the main challenges pertain to the management and processing of continuously increasing amount of data.
The study track in astrophysical sciences focuses on observational or theoretical astronomy or space physics. Our understanding of space, ranging from near Earth space all the way to structure of the universe, is being continuously redefined because of improved experimental equipment located both in space and on the Earth’s surface. Several probes are also carrying out direct measurements of planets, moons and interplanetary plasma in our solar system. Another key discipline is theoretical astrophysics which, with the help of increasingly efficient supercomputers, enables us to create in-depth models of various phenomena in the universe in general and the field of space physics in particular. Finally, plasma physics is an important tool in both space physics and astronomy research.
The course is run jointly by the Mathematical Institute and the Department of Physics. It provides a high-level, internationally competitive training in mathematical and theoretical physics, right up to the level of modern research. It covers the following main areas:
The course concentrates on the main areas of modern mathematical and theoretical physics: elementary-particle theory, including string theory, condensed matter theory (both quantum and soft matter), theoretical astrophysics, plasma physics and the physics of continuous media (including fluid dynamics and related areas usually associated with courses in applied mathematics in the UK system). If you are a physics student with a strong interest in theoretical physics or a mathematics student keen to apply high-level mathematics to physical systems, this is a course for you.
The course offers considerable flexibility and choice; you will be able to choose a path reflecting your intellectual tastes or career choices. This arrangement caters to you if you prefer a broad theoretical education across subject areas or if you have already firmly set your sights on one of the subject areas, although you are encouraged to explore across sub-field boundaries.
You will have to attend at least ten units' worth of courses, with one unit corresponding to a 16-hour lecture course or equivalent. You can opt to offer a dissertation as part of your ten units. Your performance will be assessed by one or several of the following means:
The modes of assessment for a given course are decided by the course lecturer and will be published at the beginning of each academic year. As a general rule, foundational courses will be offered with an invigilated exam while some of the more advanced courses will typically be relying on the other assessment methods mentioned above. In addition, you will be required to give an oral presentation towards the end of the academic year which will cover a more specialised and advanced topic related to one of the subject areas of the course. At least four of the ten units must be assessed by an invigilated exam and, therefore, have to be taken from lecture courses which provide this type of assessment. A further three units must be assessed by invigilated written exam, take-home exam or mini-project. Apart from these restrictions, you are free to choose from the available programme of lecture courses.
The course offers a substantial opportunity for independent study and research in the form of an optional dissertation (worth at least one unit). The dissertation is undertaken under the guidance of a member of staff and will typically involve investigating and write in a particular area of theoretical physics or mathematics, without the requirement (while not excluding the possibility) of obtaining original results.
This MSc provides students with the skills, knowledge and research ability for a career in astrophysics. The programme is designed to satisfy the need, both nationally and internationally, for well-qualified postgraduates who will be able to respond to the challenges that arise from future developments in this field.
Students develop insights into the techniques used in current astrophysics projects, and gain in-depth experience of a particular specialised research area, through project work, as a member of a research team. The programme provides the professional skills necessary to play a meaningful role in industrial or academic life.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of a choice of six optional modules (90 credits), a research essay (30 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).
A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits, full-time nine months, part-time two years) is offered.
Optional modules 1 (15 credits each)
Students choose four of the following:
Optional modules 2 (15 credits each)
Students choose two of the following:
Students submit a critical research essay of approximately 8,000 words and undertake an in-depth research project which culminates in a formal report and oral presentation.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical, laboratory and computer-based classes. Student performance is assessed through coursework and written examination. The research project is assessed by literature survey, oral presentation and the dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Astrophysics MSc
Astrophysics-based careers embrace a broad range of areas, for example information technology, Large Data science, engineering, finance, research and development, medicine, nanotechnology and photonics. Employers regard a physics degree as flexible and highly desirable university training.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Astrophysics opens up many avenues to employment through the skills acquired: problem-solving; the training of a logical and numerate mind; computation skills; modelling and material analysis; and the ability to think laterally. In addition, work vision and enthusiasm make physics graduates highly desirable members of all dynamic companies.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
UCL Physics & Astronomy is among the top departments in the UK for this subject area.
The department's participation in many international collaborations means we provide exceptional opportunities to work as part of an international team. Examples include the Dark Energy Survey - investigating the origin of the accelerating universe and the nature of dark matter - the Hubble Telescope and the Cassini project.
In some cases, opportunities exist for students to broaden their experience by spending part of their time overseas.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Physics & Astronomy
90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.