About this course
This optical engineering course covers the fundamental concepts of modern optical and photonic engineering. It is based at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), which specialises in lasers, optical fibres, optical waveguides, and their applications in real world engineering. We focus on physical optics in settings such as communications, computing and sensors.
You'll work in photonics with access to professional level equipment, software, and fabrication methodologies. This involves studying the principles of lasers, optical technology and the practical aspects of their design, fabrication, and applications. The opportunity to specialise in different areas of optoelectronics will also be available.
Our range of optional modules covers topics such as:
- optical communications
- silicon photonics
- optical sensors
- advanced laser techniques
If you wish to follow a particular theme, you may choose modules from other subject areas to match your interests, such as physics or computer science.
You'll also perform an experimental or theoretical research project, making use of the extensive facilities in our research laboratories. This includes the Mountbatten Clean Room complex.
Aims of the course
The aims of the programme are to:
- provide you with advanced knowledge of optical fibre and photonic technologies
- give you the opportunity to work in a research-led environment using state of the art facilities
- develop your research skills applicable to a career in research and development
- stimulate your interest in the subject using a variety of teaching and learning methods
Your course leader is Bill Brocklesby. Over the last 10 to 15 years his research has centred around novel imaging and microscopy techniques using visible and X-ray light sources. Read Dr Bill Brocklesby's profile to find out more about his research interests and publications.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You'll need a 2:1 undergraduate degree in a related subject such as:
- materials science
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Recognition of professional experience
If you’ve been away from formal study for some time we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
Your studies will run for a full 12 months, from September to the following September. The first 8 months cover taught modules and the completion of your coursework and examinations. For the final part of your studies you'll work on a research project, which will result in your dissertation. There are 2 sets of exams, in January and in May.
Your learning will be led by the latest research, and modules can change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline.
Semester 1 overview
Four compulsory modules covering the basics of:
- optical fibres and waveguides
- optical materials and device fabrication
- practical signal processing in optics
Assessment of these lecture based modules is through a mixture of coursework and written examinations.
Semester 2 overview
You must complete a compulsory lab based module that covers practical topics important to photonic systems, such as fibres or lasers. This module is assessed through laboratory reports, and a conference style presentation.
The rest of the semester consists of 3 option modules. At least 2 of these must be from within the Optoelectronics Research Centre. One option can also be taken outside of the school.
After you have completed the first 2 semesters, you will undertake a research project lasting around 15 weeks. This can involve cleanroom and optical laboratory work.
Your project is assessed by a:
- midterm (7 week) progress report of 2,500 words
- 15,000 word dissertation
- conference style group presentation
Your dissertation is due by the middle of September. After you submit your dissertation, you will present the main achievements of your research project work to your peers in a conference style setting.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2023-24
Year 1 modules
You must study the following modules:
Lasers and photonic techniques are used in all branches of science and technology. The principles of laser operation will be discussed, with reference to commonly used laser systems. The course provides knowledge of the laser as a fundamental tool of cont...
Optical Fibres and Waveguides
An optical waveguide is the fundamental building block in photonics and in-depth knowledge of waveguides as a light guiding medium is vital for understanding a number of photonic devices, circuits and systems. This module will introduce the fundamentals o...
Photonic Materials and Device Platforms
Photonics Laboratory and Study Skills
The course is devoted to carrying out a series of experiments from the area of photonics and related technologies. The experiments have been selected to underpin and illustrate some fundamental concepts in laser and fibre science and offer an opportunity ...
The topics of research projects will cover different concepts in photonic materials and in design, fabrication and testing of device-oriented applications in photonic technology. Each student will work under a supervision of a senior research/academic ...
Signal Processing and Machine Learning in Photonics
This module will introduce the student to a toolkit of techniques for signal processing for use in photonics. Many of the topics students will study in Photonics will rely on an understanding of how optical signals are acquired and processed – the connect...
You must also choose from the following modules:
Advanced Fibre Telecommunication
Communications is arguably the most widespread application of fibre optics, and naturally forms an essential part of an MSc Programme specialising on fibre technologies. This module will cover topics ranging from the more general (aimed at students with a...
The operating principles of a wide variety of solid-state lasers will be covered, as well as practical implementations and uses. Solid state lasers in various formats (e.g. bulk/crystal, fibre, ultrafast) are used in many branches of science and technolog...
Nanoscience: technology and advanced materials
This course will focus on nanomaterials, chemical synthesis and technological developments. This is a multidisciplinary module involving chemistry, physics, materials and biology. Students will be given non-assessed problems sheets and are expected to ...
Optical sensor technology is playing an increasing role in modern-day life with a range of applications emerging in areas spanning civil engineering, defence and the life sciences. This module focuses on a key area of ORC expertise that has developed in p...
Quantum information combines information science with quantum effects in physics to study of how to process and transmit information using quantum systems. This includes quantum computation, quantum teleportation and quantum cryptography. Quantum metrol...
The course will present an introduction to guided waves, optical modes, and propagation characteristics of photonic circuits, using Silicon Technology by way of example.
Wireless and Mobile Networks
The module consists of the following 8 components: 1. Introduction; 2. Data link layer; 3. Medium access control sublayer; 4. Network layer; 5. Queueing theory and queueing models; 6. Cellular wireless networks; 7. Wireless local area networ...
Learning and assessment
You'll learn through a variety of methods, including:
- classes and tutorials
- delivering presentations
- individual and group projects
- independent learning (studying on your own)
We'll assess you through:
- coursework assignments
- reports and portfolios
This course requires a final project dissertation with a maximum of 15,000 words, and a conference style final project presentation to all the students on the programme.
Towards the end of semester 2, you will be allocated a project supervisor with whom you will meet and agree a project brief and plan. These must be submitted to and agreed by the project coordinator. During the summer you will have weekly meetings with your supervisor or, if your supervisor is unavailable, another researcher within the group.
The Student Support Hub can help with your questions or concerns about your wellbeing, fees and funding, accommodation, or visas.
Visit the Student Support Hub.
You will also be allocated a Personal Academic Tutor, who will offer one to one support and advice throughout your time at Southampton. They will support you in your studies or with other issues you may have.
By taking this optical engineering degree you’ll be ready to join the global growth in photonics. This will open up a number of photonics job opportunities, for example, for aspiring photonics engineers or laser scientists. Photonics technology in the UK produces £14.5 billion in output every year and is growing four times faster than overall UK manufacturing (Photonics Leadership Group 2020).
Our alumni have gone on to:
- take leading roles in industrial photonics research and development across the globe
- run their own photonics businesses
- pursue their research at PhD level
Around a third of our graduates continue their study with us on our PhD programmes. We offer a number of funded PhD opportunities. Some of our students also take up PhD studies at our sister institute Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
You’ll benefit from our academics’ industry knowledge and exceptional global connections. Our engineering careers hub organises an annual Engineering and Technology Careers Fair attended by global photonics companies, where you can learn about MSc photonics job opportunities.
We foster a strong culture of innovation at the Optoelectronics Research Centre. To date, we’ve developed 11 spin-out companies and our Industry Showcase Week helps you understand how to operate a business in this sector. If you’ve an idea that has commercial potential, you’ll get plenty of support.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £29,512.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Funding your postgraduate studies
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Places are limited and we allocate them on a continuous basis from 21 September 2022, until all places are filled. We advise you to apply early to avoid disappointment.
We expect to close applications for this course on Friday 7 July 2023 (11:59pm UK time).
This course may stay open after this date if places are still available.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for a postgraduate taught course.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees and is payable per application. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you’re applying for certain scholarships, you will not need to pay the fee. PGCE applications through GOV.UK and Master of Research (MRes) degree applications are also exempt. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
You may also be asked to provide:
- a degree transcript
- evidence of professional qualifications
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
- View all courses
- Taught postgraduate study
- Pre-sessional English courses
PhDs and research degrees
- Create your own research project
Find a PhD project
- A missing link between continental shelves and the deep sea: Have we underestimated the importance of land-detached canyons?
- A seismic study of the continent-ocean transition southwest of the UK
- A study of rolling contact fatigue in electric vehicles (EVs)
- Acoustic monitoring of forest exploitation to establish community perspectives of sustainable hunting
- Acoustic sensing and characterisation of soil organic matter
- Advancing intersectional geographies of diaspora-led development in times of multiple crises
- Aero engine fan wake turbulence – Simulation and wind tunnel experiments
- Against Climate Change (DACC): improving the estimates of forest fire smoke emissions
- All-in-one Mars in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) system and life-supporting using non-thermal plasma
- An electromagnetic study of the continent-ocean transition southwest of the UK
- An investigation of the relationship between health, home and law in the context of poor and precarious housing, and complex and advanced illness
- Antarctic ice sheet response to climate forcing
- Antibiotic resistance genes in chalk streams
- Assessing changes in astronomical tides on global scales
- Being autistic in care: Understanding differences in care experiences including breakdowns in placements for autistic and non-autistic children
- Biogeochemical cycling in the critical coastal zone: Developing novel methods to make reliable measurements of geochemical fluxes in permeable sediments
- Bloom and bust: seasonal cycles of phytoplankton and carbon flux
- British Black Lives Matter: The emergence of a modern civil rights movement
- Building physics for low carbon comfort using artificial intelligence
- Building-resolved large-eddy simulations of wind and dispersion over a city scale urban area
- Business studies and management: accounting
- Business studies and management: banking and finance
- Business studies and management: decision analytics and risk
- Business studies and management: digital and data driven marketing
- Business studies and management: human resources (HR) management and organisational behaviour
- Business studies and management: strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship
- Carbon storage in reactive rock systems: determining the coupling of geo-chemo-mechanical processes in reactive transport
- Cascading hazards from the largest volcanic eruption in over a century: What happened when Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted in January 2022?
- Characterisation of cast austenitic stainless steels using ultrasonic backscatter and artificial intelligence
- Climate Change effects on the developmental physiology of the small-spotted catshark
- Climate at the time of the Human settlement of the Eastern Pacific
- Collaborative privacy in data marketplaces
- Compatibility of climate and biodiversity targets under future land use change
- Cost of living in modern and fossil animals
- Creative clusters in rural, coastal and post-industrial towns
- Deep oceanic convection: the outsized role of small-scale processes
- Defect categories and their realisation in supersymmetric gauge theory
- Defining the Marine Fisheries-Energy-Environment Nexus: Learning from shocks to enhance natural resource resilience
- Desert dune avalanche processes modern ancient environments
- Design and fabrication of next generation optical fibres
- Developing a practical application of unmanned aerial vehicle technologies for conservation research and monitoring of endangered wildlife
- Development and evolution of animal biomineral skeletons
- Development of all-in-one in-situ resource utilisation system for crewed Mars exploration missions
- Disturbance and recovery of benthic habitats in submarine canyon settings
- Ecological role of offshore artificial structures
- Effect of embankment and subgrade weathering on railway track performance
- Efficient ‘whole-life’ anchoring systems for offshore floating renewables
- Electrochemical sensing of the sea surface microlayer
- Engagement with nature among children from minority ethnic backgrounds
- Ensuring the Safety and Security of Autonomous Cyber-Physical Systems
- Environmental and genetic determinants of Brassica crop damage by the agricultural pest Diamondback moth
- Estimating marine mammal abundance and distribution from passive acoustic and biotelemetry data
- Evolution of symbiosis in a warmer world
- Examining evolutionary loss of calcification in coccolithophores
- Explainable AI (XAI) for health
- Explaining process, pattern and dynamics of marine predator hotspots in the Southern Ocean
- Exploring dynamics of natural capital in coastal barrier systems
- Exploring the mechanisms of microplastics incorporation and their influence on the functioning of coral holobionts
- Exploring the potential electrical activity of gut for healthcare and wellbeing
- Exploring the trans-local nature of cultural scene
- Facilitating forest restoration sustainability of tropical swidden agriculture
- Faulting, fluids and geohazards within subduction zone forearcs
- Faulting, magmatism and fluid flow during volcanic rifting in East Africa
- Fingerprinting environmental releases from nuclear facilities
- Flexible hybrid thermoelectric materials for wearable energy harvesting
- Floating hydrokinetic power converter
- Glacial sedimentology associated subglacial hydrology
- Green and sustainable Internet of Things
- How do antimicrobial peptides alter T cell cytokine production?
- How do calcifying marine organisms grow? Determining the role of non-classical precipitation processes in biogenic marine calcite formation
- How do neutrophils alter T cell metabolism?
- How well can we predict future changes in biodiversity using machine learning?
- Hydrant dynamics for acoustic leak detection in water pipes
- If ‘Black Lives Matter’, do ‘Asian Lives Matter’ too? Impact trajectories of organisation activism on wellbeing of ethnic minority communities
- Illuminating luciferin bioluminescence in dinoflagellates
- Imaging quantum materials with an XFEL
- Impact of neuromodulating drugs on gut microbiome homeostasis
- Impact of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment in a changing world
- Impacts of environmental change on coastal habitat restoration
- Improving subsea navigation using environment observations for long term autonomy
- Information theoretic methods for sensor management
- Installation effect on the noise of small high speed fans
- Integrated earth observation mapping change land sea
- Interconnections of past greenhouse climates
- Inverse simulation: going from camera observations of a deformation to material properties using a new theoretical approach
- Investigating IgG cell depletion mechanisms
- Is ocean mixing upside down? How mixing processes drive upwelling in a deep-ocean basin
- Landing gear aerodynamics and aeroacoustics
- Lightweight gas storage: real-world strategies for the hydrogen economy
- Long-term change in the benthos – creating robust data from varying camera systems
- Machine learning for multi-robot perception
- Machine learning for multi-robot perception
- Mapping Fishing Industry Response to Shocks: Learning Lessons to Enhance Marine Resource Resilience
- Marine ecosystem responses to past climate change and its oceanographic impacts
- Mechanical effects in the surf zone - in situ electrochemical sensing
- Microfluidic cell isolation systems for sepsis
- Microplastics and carbon sequestration: identifying links and impacts
- Microplastics in the Southern Ocean: sources, fate and impacts
- Migrant entrepreneurship, gender and generation: context and family dynamics in small town Britain
- Miniaturisation in fishes: evolutionary and ecological perspectives
- Modelling high-power fibre laser and amplifier stability
- Modelling soil dewatering and recharge for cost-effective and climate resilient infrastructure
- Modelling the evolution of adaptive responses to climate change across spatial landscapes
- Nanomaterials sensors for biomedicine and/or the environment
- New high-resolution observations of ocean surface current and winds from innovative airborne and satellite measurements
- New perspectives on ocean photosynthesis
- Novel methods of detecting carbon cycling pathways in lakes and their impact on ecosystem change
- Novel technologies for cyber-physical security
- Novel transparent conducting films with unusual optoelectronic properties
- Novel wavelength fibre lasers for industrial applications
- Ocean circulation and the Southern Ocean carbon sink
- Ocean influence on recent climate extremes
- Ocean methane sensing using novel surface plasmon resonance technology
- Ocean physics and ecology: can robots disentangle the mix?
- Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal: Assessing the utility of coastal enhanced weathering
- Offshore renewable energy (ORE) foundations on rock seabeds: advancing design through analogue testing and modelling
- Optical fibre sensing for acoustic leak detection in buried pipelines
- Optimal energy transfer in nonlinear systems
- Optimal energy transfer in nonlinear systems
- Optimizing machine learning for embedded systems
- Oxidation of fossil organic matter as a source of atmospheric CO2
- Partnership dissolution and re-formation in later life among individuals from minority ethnic communities in the UK
- Personalized multimodal human-robot interactions
- Preventing disease by enhancing the cleaning power of domestic water taps using sound
- Quantifying riparian vegetation dynamics and flow interactions for Nature Based Solutions using novel environmental sensing techniques
- Quantifying the response and sensitivity of tropical forest carbon sinks to various drivers
- Quantifying variability in phytoplankton electron requirements for carbon fixation
- Reconciling geotechnical and seismic data to accelerate green energy developments offshore
- Resilient and sustainable steel-framed building structures
- Resolving Antarctic meltwater events in Southern Ocean marine sediments and exploring their significance using climate models
- Robust acoustic leak detection in water pipes using contact sound guides
- Silicon synapses for artificial intelligence hardware
- Smart photon delivery via reconfigurable optical fibres
- Southern Ocean iron supply: does size fractionation matter?
- The Gulf Stream control of the North Atlantic carbon sink
- The Mayflower Studentship: a prestigious fully funded PhD studentship in bioscience
- The calming effect of group living in social fishes
- The duration of ridge flank hydrothermal exchange and its role in global biogeochemical cycles
- The evolution of symmetry in echinoderms
- The impact of early life stress on neuronal enhancer function
- The oceanic fingerprints on changing monsoons over South and Southeast Asia
- The role of iron in nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in changing polar oceans
- The role of singlet oxygen signaling in plant responses to heat and drought stress
- Time variability on turbulent mixing of heat around melting ice in the West Antarctic
- Triggers and Feedbacks of Climate Tipping Points
- Uncovering the drivers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression using patient derived organoids
- Understanding ionospheric dynamics machine learning
- Understanding recent land-use change in Snowdonia to plan a sustainable future for uplands: integrating palaeoecology and conservation practice
- Understanding the role of cell motility in resource acquisition by marine phytoplankton
- Understanding the structure and engagement of personal networks that support older people with complex care needs in marginalised communities and their ability to adapt to increasingly ‘digitalised’ health and social care
- Understanding variability in Earth’s climate and magnetic field using new archives from the Iberian Margin
- Unpicking the Anthropocene in the Hawaiian Archipelago
- Unraveling oceanic multi-element cycles using single cell ionomics
- Unravelling southwest Indian Ocean biological productivity and physics: a machine learning approach
- Up, up and away – the fate of upwelled nutrients in an African upwelling system and the biogeochemical and phytoplankton response
- Using acoustics to monitor how small cracks develop into bursts in pipelines
- Using machine learning to improve predictions of ocean carbon storage by marine life
- Vulnerability of low-lying coastal transportation networks to natural hazards
- Wideband fibre optical parametric amplifiers for Space Division Multiplexing technology
- Will it stick? Exploring the role of turbulence and biological glues on ocean carbon storage
- X-ray imaging and property characterisation of porous materials
- Funding your research degree
- How to apply for a PhD or research degree
- How to make a PhD enquiry
- Support while studying your PhD or research degree
- Exchanges and studying abroad
- Undergraduate study
Tuition fees and funding
- Postgraduate scholarships for UK students
- Undergraduate scholarships for UK students
- Competitive scholarships for international postgraduates
- Competitive scholarships for international undergraduates
- Merit scholarships for international postgraduates
- Merit scholarships for international undergraduates
- Scholarship terms and conditions
- Southampton Canadian Prestige Scholarship for Law
- Southampton Presidential International Scholarship
- Short courses
- Summer schools
- Get a prospectus
- Choose your halls of residence
- Apply for accommodation
- Guaranteed accommodation
- Your accommodation options
- International and pre-sessional students
- Postgraduate accommodation
- Couples and students with children
- Renting privately
- Our accommodation areas
- Privacy notice
- Terms and conditions
- Fees and contracts
- Our cities
- Sports and gyms
- Our campuses
- Join our student community
- Support and money