What will I learn?

About the course

The department researches the interaction of light and matter over an enormous range of conditions, from high-energy plasmas created by the most powerful lasers in the world, to the coherent manipulation of single quantum particles for implementing quantum information processing, to the creation of exotic states of quantum matter such as Bose-Einstein condensation.

Research in atomic and laser physics (ALP) involves some of the most rapidly developing areas of physical science and ranges from the fundamental physics of quantum systems to interdisciplinary application of lasers. The themes include the following, using both experiment and theory.

  • quantum computation
  • quantum cryptography
  • quantum chaos
  • quantum memories
  • optical manipulation of cold atoms and molecules
  • ultra-cold matter
  • Bose-Einstein condensations
  • optical lattices and quantum simulations
  • ions traps and entanglement
  • non-linear optics
  • cavity quantum electrodynamics
  • quantum optics
  • high-intensity laser interactions
  • ultra-fast X-ray science
  • laser-plasma science
  • attosecond optics
  • optical metrology and precision spectroscopy
  • fundamental tests of QED
  • femtosecond combs
  • EPR and NMR for QIP
  • laboratory astrophysics

At graduate level, the department primarily offers the DPhil research degree (equivalent to a PhD). In very exceptional cases, it may be possible to do an MSc by Research in Atomic and Laser Physics. There is no graduate taught master’s course in ALP.


Continuation beyond the first year is dependent on successful participation in the graduate course and on original research documented by a written report. Examination of the research element is by viva at the end of the first year.

Graduate destinations

A large number of former ALP graduate students now pursue careers in either academia or industry, predominantly focusing on research and development.

Which department am I in?

University of Oxford

Study options

Full Time (3 years)

Tuition fees
£27,460.00 (US$ 36,613) per year
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

This is a fixed fee
Start date

Expected October 2022


University of Oxford

University Offices,

Wellington Square,



OX1 2JD, England

Entry requirements

For international students

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications. a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in physics, mathematics or related fields. The equivalent of a UK four-year integrated MPhys or MSci is typically required. Bachelor's degrees with a minimum four years' standard duration may also satisfy the entry requirements. Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent. In exceptional cases, the requirement for a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours can be alternatively demonstrated by a graduate master’s degree or substantial directly-related professional or research experience. For applicants with a degree from the USA, the typical minimum GPA sought is 3.3 out of 4.0. However, selection of candidates also depends on other factors in your application and most successful applicants have achieved higher GPA scores. Applicants need to have an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 per component; TOEFL iBT score of 100 with a minimum component score of 22 in listening, 24 in reading, 24 in writing and 25 in speaking.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


Get in touch