I have a masters in physics. Research components in taught courses are almost next to none. I was talking about MRes/MPhil or PhD degrees. Yes contacted the departments and professors through admin channels, a formal application. Submitted applications to Durham, UCL two months ago, yet they are still processing the application and professors seem to care less even to process it, I would have even understood if they rejected me. Just for context, I have a masters degree with distinction and good research experience.