Research in theoretical physics covers (ordinarily even on one workplace) a range of physical branches, which influence eachother with their own methods and practices significantly. At present, MFF UK evolves theoretical physics on several workplaces, with Institute of Theoretical Physics being the centre point. ITP also guarantees both the undergraduate and the postrgraduste study.
Scientific activity is aimed mainly na relativistic physics, astrophysics and cosmology, quantum theory and theoretical atomary physics, mathematical statistical physics and computer physics.
The tradition of theoretical physics in Czech countries can be traced into the beginning of the 20th century, the times when Ernst Mach, Albert Einstein followed by excellent Czech scientists such as prof. Záviška or prof. Trkal worked at the Charles University in Prague, who were responsible for introducing and development of new basic theories of modern physics (theory of relativity, quantum theory). In the post-war years is the evolution of theoretical physics tied with the names of prof. V. Votruba (theory of atomic nucleus and elementary particles), prof. M. Brdička (mechanics of continuum, theory of relativity) and others.
The Department of Theoretical Physics originated at the MFF UK in the later half of the 1960s. At the head of the department subsequently changed prof. C. Muzikář, prof. M. Brdička, prof. V. Votruba, prof. L. Valenta.
In the year 1976 the department was disestablished due to administrative reasons. About half of the staff came over to other physical departments. The remaining part movet into the newly established Department of Mathematical Physics with doc. J. Kvasnica named for the chairman. This department took over pedagogical function of the disestablished one, namely the responsibility for the study branch theoretical and mathematical physics and for coordinating the courses on theoretical physics for all branches. Roughly half of the staff under the leadership of prof. J. Nečas belonged to the group of applied mathematicians. This part divided from the department at 1981. In 1986, prof. Kvasnica abdicated and transfered the chairmanship to newly named doc. J. Bičák.
In 1991 the department's name was changed to Department of Theoretical Physics, which is more apposite to the interests of the staff. The connection to the former department of theoretical physics is given by the continuity of role particulary in the education of students, as well.
In spring 1994 pursuant the competitive examinations, prof. J. Bičák was established as the department's chairman till 1998.
In autumn 1999, the department was renamed to Institute of Theorertical Physics.