DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics | University of Oxford
Optical floating-zone furnace
Optical floating-zone furnace in the University's Clarendon Laboratory
(Image Credit: Department of Physics)

DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics

About the course

Research projects available for the DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics include topics in biological physics, quantum materials and semiconductor materials, devices and nanostructures. Research in the department ranges from fundamental physics questions to interdisciplinary research and technological applications.

The DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) is a research-based three- to four-year course. You will be supervised throughout the entire duration of the programme and join the research group of your supervisor. There will usually be opportunity to attend conferences or conduct experiments in other institutions inside or outside the UK.

During the first year you will be required to attend lectures and courses to increase your basic and specialist physics knowledge. In the following years you will concentrate on your research work.

You will be assigned to a research group: work on your original research project will start immediately and continue for the duration of your DPhil. During the first year you will also be expected to attend lectures and classes.

At the end of the first year you are expected to submit a report on your research and to defend it in an interview with the Graduate Studies Panel and a specialist reader. The panel will determine whether you can transfer status from Probationer Research Student to DPhil student.

Towards the end of the second year you will present a poster to the sub-department. Discussion of your research project with panel members at the poster session will contribute to the decision whether to confirm your status as DPhil student.

At the end of the third year you are expected to give a talk to the sub-department and to answer questions following the presentation.

MSc by Research in Condensed Matter Physics

In exceptional cases applicants may apply for a MSc by Research degree, which requires a shorter registration period. Please contact the department for further information and advice about admission to this course.

Graduate destinations

A DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics can provide a springboard for a career in research but also serves as a broad high-level qualification. Students have found careers in academic and industrial research organisations, the financial sector, information technology, consultancy, media etc. Some go on to further training in, for example, medicine and law.

Related courses

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee:

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in physics or another relevant science. The degree must be at the level of MPhys, MSc, MSci or equivalent. Bachelor's degrees with a minimum four years standard duration may satisfy the entry requirements. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the typical minimum GPA sought is 3.3 out of 4.0. However, selection of candidates also depends on other factors in your application. Entry is competitive and most successful applicants have achieved higher GPA scores. 

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

In exceptional cases professional or research experience might be accepted as a substitute for a master's degree. 

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

If you are a UK or EU candidate, you will be expected to attend a personal interview in Oxford. If you are a candidate from outside the EU, the interview will be conducted via Skype. Information about the planned interview dates can be found on the Condensed Matter Physics webpages for prospective students.

Publications

Publications are not expected but may strengthen an application.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Physics to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Physics and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Physics.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

Resources available to graduate students in condensed matter physics include:

  • nanofabrication facility
  • crystal growth laboratory
  • magnetic characterisation suite
  • MBE facility for epitaxial thin films and multilayers
  • X-ray diffraction laboratory
  • Nicholas Kurti High Magnetic Field Laboratory
  • Atomic Force Microscopy Laboratory, operational from October 2016
  • facilities for protein expression, cell culture and biophysical measurements
  • Radcliffe Science Library.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

For students applying to programmes within the MPLS Division at Oxford, Research Council and other funding opportunities available, subject to eligibility. These opportunities are included in the Fees, funding and scholarship search.

You may also be interested in departmental funding opportunities. Further details can be found on the department's website.

Costs

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Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this programme that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, please note that, depending on your choice of research topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You may make contact with a prospective supervisor before applying to discuss possible research projects.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research project:
300 to 1,500 words

The research proposal should outline your reasons for wishing to study for a DPhil in Condensed Matter Physics and the type of research project that you wish to undertake. It is not necessary to be very specific about your choice of project, but if you do have a clear preference for a particular research area or supervisor please indicate and explain this.

The proposal should be written in English and the word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; and commitment to the subject.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group. All references should be academic.

Applying to other sub-departments

If your application is related to more than one of the physics sub-departments, there is no need to complete a separate application for each. Instead, please select one DPhil course in your application and then add any additional Physics DPhil courses for which you would like to be considered by giving the academic’s name (where relevant) and sub-department either in the 'Proposed supervisor name' field or, if there is insufficient space, clearly at the top of your research proposal. Your application will then be assessed for each of the Physics DPhil courses you have indicated.

If you wish to apply to a different department or to a particular CDT, you will need to submit a separate application for this. Information on application fee waivers for CDT applications is available in the Application Guide.