About this course
Through this optical fibre course, you'll gain specialist knowledge of technologies that harness the power of light, such as lasers and optical fibres. You'll also master the engineering skills and business insight to apply your knowledge in this growth sector.
In 2017 we were awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, in recognition of our world-leading expertise in photonics and fibre optic technology.
If you've got a passion for physics and engineering materials, but want to keep your job opportunities open, this optics and photonics engineering course will allow you to explore both. Many of our students go on to study for a PhD, but many also go into industry, or set up their own business.
You’ll be part of an active, research-focused, postgraduate-only community; the largest photonics group in the UK. You'll also have a rare opportunity to see firsthand how fibres are made, as we’re one of only a handful of universities with optical fibre production facilities.
During this MSc photonics degree, you'll make photonic components and devices in our new 1,200m2 cleanroom complex. This is the largest multidisciplinary cleanroom of its type in the UK.
Our photonics inventions can be found on the Moon, on Mars and on the International Space Station. We built the foundations of the internet and our research is powering changes in medicine, telecommunications, defence, renewable energy and manufacturing.
Some of the best photonics researchers in the world will support you to develop your research skills and you’ll gain hands-on experience of the many practical applications of optical fibres and photonics engineering.
You'll gain practical insights into how to run a modern photonics business through our Industrial Showcase Week. During the week you’ll visit several businesses and learn from experienced photonics business leaders how to apply research and engineering skills to real-world problems.
We’ll foster your entrepreneurial spirit, helping you develop your ideas and connect with mentors and investors; 11 spin-out companies have so far been developed from our Optical Research Centre.
Bill Brocklesby started in research at the Clarendon Laboratory in Oxford, working on laser spectroscopy. He worked as a post-doctoral member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell laboratories.His research has centered around novel imaging & microscopy techniques in the visible and XUV spectral regions over the last 10-15 years. He is currently working on coherent diffractive imaging of nanoscale systems using XUV radiation generated by high-power ultrashort pulse lasers.
Dr Brocklesby was Project Manager of the ICAN project, conceived by Gérard Mourou and Toshiki Tajima, which studied large-scale beam combination of ultrafast fibre lasers for wake-field acceleration. Large-scale beam combination remains a topic of interest.
He also has extensive research experience in:
- raman microscopy
- scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM)
- atomic force microscopy & scanning tunneling microscopy
- optical spectroscopy of rare-earth doped materials and optical fibres.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the programme specification
The programme specification sets out the learning outcomes of this course and details how the course is taught and assessed.
In light of COVID-19, we’ve made changes to some elements of course delivery for 2020-21. For details as to how this has changed delivery for this course, please view the Addendum to the Programme Specification PDF.
You’ll need the minimum of a 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline such as physics, electronics, engineering, materials science or mathematics.
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?
If you're not sure that you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course please contact our enquiries team; we're very happy to help.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
COVID-19: we've made some changes to the structure of the course for this academic year. Download the programme specification addendum in 'About this course' to learn more.
Our optical fibre course runs from September to September.
This master's is a mix of essential modules that you must take and optional modules. This means that you can tailor your learning and focus on your areas of particular interest.
You’ll take 8 taught modules over the first 2 semesters. In the third and final semester, you’ll focus solely on your supervised research project, which may involve cleanroom and optical laboratory work.
Class sizes are small and you’ll get plenty of support from your personal academic tutor and PhD student mentor.
Each module is equal to about 150 hours of learning time.
During the Easter holidays, you’ll take part in the Industrial Showcase Week, where you’ll visit several photonics companies and complete business-focused assignments based on your findings.
There are 2 sets of exams, in January and in May.
Compulsory modules will cover:
- optical fibre and waveguide theory and fabrication
- fibre telecommunications
- practical experience of a number of different laser systems and analysis of their uses
- existing and emerging applications of fibre sensor technology
- photonics laboratory skills and laser safety
There’s then a wide choice of optional modules, ranging from advanced materials and nanoscience to silicon photonics and signal processing.
Over the summer you’ll embed in one of our research groups to complete your research project. Working alongside PhD, postdoctoral students and academics will give you a real taste of life as a researcher. Your project will be a in a subject of your choosing, as agreed with the course leader, and it may lead to publication. The project is assessed by a midterm progress report, a final 12,000-word dissertation, and a conference-style group presentation.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
COVID-19: we've made some changes to our modules for this academic year. Download the programme specification addendum in 'About this course' to learn more.
For entry in Academic Year 2020-21
You must study the following modules in year 1:
You must also choose from the following modules in year 1:
Learning and assessment
COVID-19: we've made some changes to our learning and assessment methods for this academic year. Download the programme specification addendum in 'About this course' to learn more.
You'll learn through a variety of methods, including:
- lab workshops
- problem-solving classes
- delivering presentations
- practical experiments in laser and fibre science
- guest lectures on specialised optical networking topics
We'll assess you through:
- laboratory work
- group presentations
- short reports
- coursework assignments
- case studies following visits to businesses
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.
You'll be supported by a personal academic tutor and have access to a senior (pastoral) mentor. Each year group is also assigned a PhD student mentor.
By taking this course you’ll be ready to be part of the global growth in photonics, and will open a number of photonics job opportunities. Photonics technology in the UK produces £13.5 billion in output every year and is growing four times faster than overall UK manufacturing (Photonics Leadership Group 2019).
Our alumni have gone on to:
- take leading roles in industrial photonics research across the globe
- take leading roles in photonics product 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 generously 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 dedicated Careers Hub organises an annual Engineering and Technology Careers Fair that’s attended by global photonics companies, where you can learn about MSc phonics job opportunities.
We foster a strong culture of innovation at the ORC. To date, we’ve developed 11 spin-out companies and our unique 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 2019). 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 vibrant entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK/EU students pay £9,250.
- International students pay £25,450.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and all examinations.
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 scholarships, grants and bursaries may be available to help you fund your master’s study, both from the University and from other organisations.
How to apply
You can apply directly through our online form by using the apply button on this page.
Applications must be received no later than 4 weeks before the start of the course. You must supply all supporting documentation at least two weeks before starting your course.
We recommend you apply at least 6 weeks before the start of the course to ensure you're able to meet our requirements and apply for a visa in time.
We cannot guarantee students who do not meet these deadlines will be able to begin their course.
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
Learn more about how to apply with our postgraduate application guide.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We will assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We'll get back to you within 6 weeks with a decision about your application.
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