A thriving scholarly community
This is one of the leading departments for Physics in the country, with 96% of research activity judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by the Research Excellence framework 2014.
The Department of Physics hosts a thriving community of scholars across the areas of Advanced Instrumentation, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, and Elementary Particle Theory, with two embedded research institutes and a number of research centres.
At undergraduate level, our students can choose from a wide range of topics spanning the whole of Physics, with Batchelor and Masters degrees and a wide range of possible specialisations.
The Physics Department has identified five research areas where we either are, or seek to be, world leaders: astronomy, particle physics, atomic and molecular physics, advanced instrumentation and condensed matter physics.
The department is the university’s highest research grant earner, in some years accounting for over 1/3 of the entire university grant income. Staff coming to Durham from other high-ranking UK departments talk of the esteem in which the department is held. We contribute deeply to Durham’s interdisciplinary research activities, especially through the Durham Energy Institute and Biophysical Sciences Institute.
We are recruiting large numbers of the best-qualified students in the University (and the country) through our Physics and Natural Sciences programmes. We are also offering well-respected undergraduate degrees as shown by recent accreditation reports and graduate recruitment numbers. We will increase our overseas UG fraction as part of the University’s internationalisation strategy.
Confirming Durham’s international position in space science: The iconic new Ogden Research Centre
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Our research concentrates on five key areas of Physics: Advanced Instrumentation, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, and Elementary Particle Theory. Durham has the largest Particle Theory group in the UK.
The department is very strong in Astronomy and Astrophysics, from the design of giant telescopes to computational cosmology; our research group on galaxy evolution is the largest in Europe and a major user of the Hubble Space Telescope and other space-based observatories. The department hosts two EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces and Fusion Science and Technology, and an STFC Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Intensive Science.
In a recent survey for "impact factors" (citations per paper published) we were ranked top in Astrophysics and third overall of all UK physics departments. Durham is home to two major research institutes: the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology and the Institute for Computational Cosmology.
An example of the international projects we are closely involved with is the European Extremely Large Telescope (www.stfc.ac.uk/news-events-and-publications/features/the-next-big-thing-in-astronomy-the-extremely-large-telescope/).
We are also leading two exciting EPSRC programme grants on Quantum Science with Ultracold Molecules and Skyrmionics: From Magnetic Excitations to Functioning Low-Energy Devices.
The Particle Theory group recently ran a very popular display at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition (royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2017/summer-science-exhibition/exhibits/modelling-the-invisible/).
The Department of Physics contains large numbers of state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratories. We also have supercomputing facilities such as the COSMA 6 machine for computational cosmology.
The department staff regularly win time on major international facilities such as the Diamond Light Source, or the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescopes and the Atacama Large Millimetre Array.
The Physics Department includes 80 academics, 90 postdoctoral researchers and 150 postgraduate students. There are also 25 professional support or technical staff. We have about 600 undergraduates enrolled.
Our staff listing can be found at durham.ac.uk/physics/staff.