Physics MPhil/PhD

Major code: PPPR

About us

Research groups

The Physics Department at Liverpool is a major centre for research across a wide range of topics, has excellent facilities and receives around £35m of funding per year from the research councils, the University and other sources.

We can offer you an exciting, rigorous research environment in which to study for a Physics PhD, MPhil or Mres, or to pursue one of our taught MSc programmes.

Our research is organised into 4 principal areas:

  • Particle Physics at the LHC, which started to take data in 2010 at CERN (Geneva), and at the T2K neutrino experiment, which started operation in 2010 at J-PARC (Japan).
  •  , using several overseas accelerators, in particular Jyväskylä (Finland), GANIL (France), GSI (Germany), ISOLDE at CERN (Switzerland) or TRIUMF (Canada) to study exotic nuclei under extreme conditions of isospin or angular momentum and at the limits of existence.
  •  , using the techniques of scanning tunnelling microscopy, x-ray photoemission, ultraviolet photoemission, Auger electron spectroscopy and low-energy electron diffraction. The group also uses synchrotron facilities at ESRF (Grenoble), Diamond (Oxfordshire), the APS (Chicago) and SLRS (Stanford). An activity in thin film photovoltaics has been recently established.
  • Accelerator Science and Technology, engaging in R&D projects aimed at developing techniques for novel acceleration and beam-handling for the next generation of particle accelerators.

We can offer you excellent facilities to support your research. These include:

  • An in-house Design Office and Mechanical Workshop for designing and building apparatus.
  • The Liverpool Semiconductor Detector Centre, which features a new £3m suite of clean rooms, supports the design, construction and characterisation of silicon and germanium for particle and nuclear physics research. We’re also using the materials to create new medical imaging devices.
  • Advanced computer systems, including some of the UK’s fastest computer systems: large arrays of processors operated in parallel to perform intense tasks such as Monte Carlo calculations.
  • The department participates in local, national and international GRID computing projects (Euro-Grid, Grid-PP, UL-Grid).
  • In the Surface Science Research Centre, one of the UK’s largest dedicated nano and surface science equipment bases, with state-of-the-art imaging and spectroscopy facilities.

You’ll find the department in the Oliver Lodge and the Chadwick Laboratories, building numbers 208 and 207 (grid references F4 and E5) respectively, on the CampusMap. See

Laura Harkness

I studied my undergraduate MPhys physics degree at Liverpool so I already knew it was a great department in a lively city.  In addition, the department has excellent facilities which are essential for my research.


What is the name of the postgraduate programme you are studying?

PhD Medical Physics Instrumentation
What does that involve? 

My PhD focuses on developing a novel state-of-the-art device for medical imaging.  The instrument will give higher quality images than are available in systems currently in use, leading to the improved diagnosis and treatment of, for example, neurological conditions and cancer.
What were your main reasons for choosing to undertake postgraduate study/research at University of Liverpool? 

I studied my undergraduate MPhys physics degree at Liverpool so I already knew it was a great department in a lively city.  In addition, the department has excellent facilities which are essential for my research.
What’s the best thing about studying/researching in your department?

Although studying for a PhD is mainly independent research, we work in groups were there is excellent support available from academic staff and other researchers.
How do the facilities in the department/university help you in your studies/research?

The computing facilities and nuclear physics laboratory are essential in pieces of equipment which allow me to complete my research.

What expertise do your lecturers bring to your studies/research?

I work in the nuclear physics instrumentation group, which is a subgroup of the nuclear physics group.  There is specific support available from the instrumentation group and a wide range of expertise available from the nuclear physics group. 

What kind of support do you get from tutors/supervisors?

I have two academic supervisors who I meet with regularly and are available to answer questions specific to my research.  There is very much an open door policy at the physics department which means that if a supervisor is away due to research commitments, there is always someone available to talk to.

Describe a typical week for you in relation to your studies/research.

I spend a lot of my time developing computer models which requires me to be at a desk, however, I also am able to spend some time in the nuclear physics laboratory which is much more hands on.

What do you enjoy most about the whole postgraduate experience?

I enjoy being able to take a more independent approach to learning and defining my own goals and paths.

What do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement has been presenting a poster about my work at the House of Commons to MP’s and House of Lords peers.

How will the skills you are learning and utilising now help you in the future?

My Phd is providing me with transferable skills which employers value. I am also becoming more organised with taking control of my research.

What kind of support do you get from your fellow students/friends/research groups?

There is a lot of support available from my fellow PhD students, everyone is in the same boat and so it is easy for them to understand the whole process of going through a PhD.

How do you believe undertaking postgraduate study/research will help your career prospects?

Yes, especially in a society were more and more people are being educated to degree level.

What advice would you give to anybody considering undertaking postgraduate study/research?

Choose a research topic that really inspires or enthuses you because the long hours and hard work make it worth it if you are studying for something you enjoy.

What do you think about Liverpool as a city?

Liverpool is a great city to live in. I am from N. Ireland so being able to fly back to Belfast regularly makes me feel close to home. The people are really friendly and theres always something to do.

What are your future career plans?

I have enjoyed my postgraduate experience so much that I want to carry on with research following my PhD.