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Theoretical and Applied Physics

AUST offers a Master of Science (M.Sc.) program in Theoretical Physics as a first step in preparing students for a career in teaching and research, which is part of the training infused into the Ph.D. program, in which a year of intensive high level coursework is followed by a comprehensive examination, before being admitted as a doctoral candidate, for whom publication of results in top tier journals is among the requirements for the award of the degree.


Following the MSc, students are expected to pursue a PhD at AUST under a sandwich program with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, and opportunities may become available with other universities overseas. The MSc program provides students with a strong background in the fundamental areas of physics (classical and quantum physics), with an emphasis on the theoretical aspects of the subject. In addition to the basic courses, students are introduced to important and recent research areas in condensed matter theory, atomic and molecular physics, energy physics, biophysics, general relativity and cosmology.

The 18-month MSc program consists of a combination of core courses and electives and the preparation of a Master’s Thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Students who complete the first year of the program with a grade point average of C (GPA of 2.0) without any failing grade are awarded the AUST Post Graduate Diploma in Theoretical Physics. Diploma students who in addition have maintained a B average (GPA of 3.0) throughout the year can then continue with the Masters program in the second year. Selection for the PhD program is done during the second year, and successful students can only formally start their PhD program once they have completed and submitted their MSc thesis.

The program is very intensive and only well motivated and prepared students who want to pursue a career in teaching and research are encouraged to apply. Courses are taught as 3- or 4- week modules of 45 to 60 hours duration, with a combination of lectures and problem-solving sessions. First year doctoral students are expected to take between 15 and 16 modules.

The curriculum covers all important aspects of modern physics. During their first year, students take fundamental courses covering mathematical methods, classical mechanics, fluid dynamics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical physics, biophysics and solid state physics. In the second year, students take three or four advanced modules covering selected areas relevant to their area of specialization or considered essential for all Ph.D. students.