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Welcome to the Department of Physics at Durham

The Physics Department is a thriving centre for research and education.

We are proud that our Department closely aligns the teaching and learning experience for its students with the research-intensive values and practices of the University. Research-led teaching is embedded at all levels from first year laboratory reports to our final year MSci flagship individual research projects.

The Department incorporates the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics, is home to the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology and the Institute for Computational Cosmology. The Ogden Centre is also the base for our innovative outreach programme for school children and their teachers.

A graphic showing an on-campus scene of students walking past the modern, glass-sided library building with the University's Physics and Astronomy Top 100 ranking emblazoned on it

Find out more about us
2nd in the Guardian University Guide 2024
3rd for Physics and Astronomy in the Complete University Guide 2024
96%
96% of our research outputs are world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)
3rd in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
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Just got your grades?

We look forward to welcoming you to Physics. Find out what to do next below.

Before you arrive Welcome and Induction

News

Supercomputer simulations reveal new possibilities for the Moon's origin

Our pioneering scientists from the Institute for Computational Cosmology used supercomputer simulations to reveal an alternate explanation for the Moon’s origin, as a satellite placed immediately into orbit following a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body.
Moon simulation

Prestigious grant awarded for research into Quantum Simulation and Ultracold Molecules

Professor Simon Cornish of the Quantum Light and Matter (QLM) research section  has been awarded a prestigious UKRI Frontier Research Grant: “SimPoMol – Quantum Simulation with Ultracold Polar Molecules” The grant is for £2.6 million  and started on 1st October.
An optical bench showing some of the optical components needed to realise a state-of-the-art cold molecule experiment.

New simulations shed light on origins of Saturn’s rings and icy Moons 

A new series of supercomputer simulations has offered an answer to the mystery of the origins of Saturn’s rings - one that involves a massive collision in the recent history of the 4.5 billion year old Solar System.
A simulation of an impact between two icy moons in orbit around Saturn, ejecting debris that could evolve into the planet's iconic and remarkably young rings

Redeveloped CMP laboratories officially opened

Professor Brian Tanner, former Head of the Physics Department, officially opened three new laboratories on behalf of the Centre for Materials Physics.
Brian Tanner and group open new lab

Biggest ever supercomputer simulation to investigate the Universe

We’re part of an international team of astronomers who have carried out the biggest ever computer simulations from the Big Bang to the present day to investigate how the Universe evolved.
A supercomputer simulation of the Universe showing the cosmic web structure in yellow against a blue background

Cosmic factory’s origins revealed

Our scientists have helped to shed new light on "factories" in outer space that produce elements used in the creation of planets, galaxies, and life.
Two bright neutron stars orbit each other

Friction, Lubrication and Rheology at the Nano and Mesoscale

We are delighted to share the success of the FLRN 2022 Conference in spite of the impact of the concurrent COVID and heat waves! Following on the positive feedback on the NanoLubrication 2021 Conference, Miro Cafolla (Physics, CMP) organised a meeting also this year (20-21 July 2022) with the generous support of the Institute of Advanced Studies.
Conference attendees discuss over a group Zoom call, and other attendees pose in a group photo

Theatre meets the cosmos in an immersive collaboration between the Physics Department and the Assembly Rooms Theatre

From Monday 16th until Friday 20th May, the Assembly Rooms theatre is hosting an exciting new project from their in-house Technical Theatre Team in collaboration with the Durham University Physics Department. 'The Final Frontier' is an immersive, experiential and theatrical journey into space that is designed to calm the mind and may help to relieve exam stress.
The Final Frontier: Exploring Space poster

Acclaimed University of Colorado physicist and researcher Prof. Heather Lewandowski to deliver the 2022 Rochester Lecture

Prof. Heather Lewandowski is this year's invited speaker to deliver the 2022 Rochester Lecture, which will be held in the Ph8 Lecture Theatre, Wednesday 18 May 2022 at 4.30pm. This year's lecture is titled 'Watching chemical reactions happen one molecule at a time'.
Image of Prof. Heather Lewandowski and the JILA and Colorado University logos

Physics Department Development Talent scheme awards four early career researchers

The Physics Department Development Talent Award promotes, enhances and encourages the possibility of early career researchers developing their research careers within the Department by providing support in the form of up to £10,000 in flexible funding. The four successful applicants in the 2022 round of this scheme are announced below. Congratulations and best of luck with your research!
Dani Pizzey Telescope

First images from new space telescope part-developed in Durham

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – which Durham helped to develop and engineer – has captured its first images.
James Webb first deep field image

Building Europe’s largest solar telescope

We’re part of a project to build Europe’s largest solar telescope.
A montage image of the EST telescope on a hillside (left and right) with a close up image of a solar flare in the centre

 

Study with us

Undergraduate study

Find out more about our BSc and MPhys courses.

Students in labs peering into microscope

Postgraduate study

Discover more about our taught courses and research degrees.

Postgrad study button pic

Our research

We are one of the top Physics Departments in the UK for research, as recognised in repeated assessments and league tables.

According to REF2014, 100% of our research impact and 94.2% of our research outputs were judged to be internationally excellent.
Find out more
Cosmic Ray Cosmo Simulation
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Look Closer at the Faculty of Science

Whether it’s our world-leading research that seeks to empower and inspire, our commitment to educational excellence across eight academic departments, or our focus on the next generation of scientists through our ground breaking science outreach and engagement. We push forward, break down barriers, asking the big questions and getting answers. Watch our short video to find out why there’s more to science at Durham than meets the eye.

Find out about the Faculty of Science

 

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Open Days & Visits

We can offer personal tours of the Physics Department by arrangement, in addition to the University’s standard open day offerings. to discuss a department tour, please see ‘Arrange a personal tour’ below.

Undergraduate open days Postgraduate open days

Experience Durham by arranging a personal tour

Arrange to have a personal tour of our department buildings and facilities, meet departmental staff and get a feel for what it would be like to study here.

Arrange a personal tour

Find us on social media

Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages

 

Student updates

What it's been like studying Physics

3rd year Physics student Jack reflects on his studies during the pandemic

Physics Rochester Building

Day in the life of a 3rd year Physics student: My Industrial Project

Physics student Gabriel tells us about his Team Project module at Durham

Student pouring liquid nitrogen

Get in touch

Contact us to find out more about our department.

Department of Physics
Durham University
Lower Mountjoy
South Road
Durham
DH1 3LE
United Kingdom

Questions about studying here?

Check out our list of FAQs or submit an enquiry form.

Your Durham prospectus

Order your personalised prospectus and College guide here.