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Department of Physics

Academic Recruitment

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A unique blend of high quality teaching and research

The Department of Physics is one of the leading departments for Physics in the country, routinely appearing in the top 5 of the national league tables, and with 96% of research activity judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ by the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

We offer a unique blend of high-quality teaching and research in the areas of Advanced Instrumentation, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, and Elementary Particle Theory. Two of the University’s Research Institutes are embedded in the Department. We pride ourselves on combining world-leading research with dedication to the learning experience of our undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The curriculum and degree structure is frequently revisited and modernised to provide our students with high quality training in physics and the best possible preparation for their future careers.

At the undergraduate level, our students can choose from a wide range of topics spanning the whole of Physics, with Bachelor and Masters degrees and a wide range of possible specialisations.

Working at Durham University - So Much More

Working at Durham University - So Much More

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Our Strategic Vision
Our Research
Our opportunities
Our people


Our Strategic Vision

Delivering world leading research and teaching relevant to a modern global society

The Physics Department has identified five research areas where we either are, or seek to be, world leaders: advanced instrumentation, astronomy and astrophysics, atomic and molecular physics, condensed matter physics, and particle physics.

To create the right platform to advance our research, we have recently invested in physical infrastructure. In 2016, our astronomy groups, the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy and the Institute for Computational Cosmology, moved into the brand new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics building, designed by the world renowned Studio Daniel Libeskind. Laboratories for atomic and condensed matter experiments were refurbished to 21st century standard in 2017/18. The University has also invested in centralised machine rooms to host our high performance computers.

We will maintain our position as the university’s highest research grant earner, in some years accounting for over 1/3 of the entire university grant income and build interdisciplinary links between the research groups in the Department and with the rest of the University, especially through the Durham Energy Institute and Biophysical Sciences Institute.

We will continue to recruit some of the best qualified students in the University (and the country) through our accredited Physics and Natural Sciences programmes, while developing our courses to reflect developments in society. We will increase our overseas UG fraction as part of the University’s internationalisation strategy.


Awards and Recognition

Professor Nigel Glover was awarded the John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics in 2017 for pioneering new methods for the application of perturbative quantum chromodynamics to high energy processes at the Large Hadron Collider.

Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List “for services to cosmology and the public dissemination of basic science”, as well as receiving the 2017 Max Born Medal and Prize of the IOP and the German Physical Society, which is given for outstanding contributions to physics.


Our Opportunities

Five exciting openings at Assistant Professor level

The Department of Physics seeks to appoint five outstanding candidates at Assistant Professor level.

We welcome applications from exceptional scholars with research and teaching interests in all of the following areas:

  • in the broad field of particle physics phenomenology who have a strong record of engagement with experimental groups;
  • in advanced instrumentation with expertise in Space Science;
  • in the broad area of observational extragalactic survey science with a preference for candidates with a leading role in the Square Kilometre Array;
  • in the broad area of experimental atomic and molecular physics with a preference for candidates with expertise in ultracold molecules;
  • in the broad area of theoretical soft condensed matter physics with a preference for candidates with in molecular simulations.

These posts offer an exciting opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of research and teaching in the Department of Physics and the successful candidate will be expected to contribute to our portfolio of research-led teaching activities.

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Title Department Salary
Postdoctoral Research Associate in Atomic & Molecular Physics Department Of Physics Grade 7 (£32,548 - £38,832)

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Our Research

Innovative research addressing global challenges

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.

Our work in Advanced Instrumentation spans a wide range of technology applications from ground-based astronomy to biophotonics and nuclear fusion with specialist facilities at the NETpark Research Institute to support our engagement with major European space missions.

Our astronomy research covers the observational and theoretical aspects of astronomy. We make extensive use of the world's forefront observational facilities to understand the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, black holes and large-scale structure in the Universe and we use advanced numerical simulations to address galaxy formation, large-scale structure and the nature of the cosmic dark matter.

The atomic and molecular physics group specialises in the study of ultracold quantum gases, quantum optics, Rydberg physics and emerging technological applications such as quantum computation and simulation.

Our work in condensed matter spans a wide range of subjects from light emitting polymers and solar cell materials to nanoscale magnetics using a combination of experiment, theory and computation.

In particle physics we focus on precise theoretical predictions and simulations relevant to experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and elsewhere and identifying, predicting and studying physics scenarios beyond the Standard Model.


Examples of the international projects we are closely involved with are the European Extremely Large Telescope or the EU funded Initial Training network elusives, which focuses on Neutrino and Dark Matter phenomenology and the role of the symmetries relating matter and antimatter.

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 Advanced Instrumentation group is heavily engaged in the European space science programme and has manufactured one of the key subsystems which will be launched in 2019 on the James Webb Space Telescope.


The Department of Physics hosts a number of state of the art research and teaching laboratories, including the G.J. Russell microscopy facility with state-of-the-art scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM) and focused ion-beam microscopes (FIB), femtosecond and picosecond laser systems, and a wide variety of clean rooms and fabrication facilities.

We also host supercomputing facilities such as the COSMA 6 machine for computational cosmology and a GridPP Tier-2 high throughput computing cluster.

The department staff regularly win time on major international facilities such as the Diamond Light Source, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, or the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescopes and the Atacama Large Millimetre Array.

The Advanced Instrumentation group has laboratory space at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), an internationally recognised location for science and technology companies about ten miles away in Sedgefield, Co. Durham.


Our People

A community of highly talented individuals working constructively together.

The Physics Department includes 83 academics, 110 postdoctoral researchers and 180 postgraduate students with 23 professional support staff and 26 technical staff. We have currently about 600 undergraduates enrolled.

View our staff listing