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The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems offers a four year PhD course in collaboration with University College London. At the end of the first year, successful students are awarded an MRes degree. The MRes is also available as a standalone course. The programme is intended to produce engineering leaders with a high level of understanding and skills in photonic systems, in particular the fundamentals of the field together with the necessary research expertise, technology, systems and applications knowledge.
Accordingly, the programme aims to:
- develop strong business awareness in MRes graduates and foster an understanding of the foundations of management theory and the connections between technology, management and entrepreneurship;
- encourage and appreciation of applications drivers for photonic systems technologies and the business, road-mapping and cost analysis tools used to determine the adoption of new technological solutions;
- expose the students to a range of technology areas and provide an experience a variety of different research and development cultures;
- encourage students to study across discipline boundaries, with a resultant enhancement of interdisciplinary understanding;
- equip the graduates of the programme with generic communications skills as well as research specific training to enable them to make a seamless transfer to doctoral research programmes at either Cambridge or UCL.
The MRes course will equip its graduates with a wide range of skills and knowledge, fully equipping them for both further research and for industrial work in the area of integrated photonic and electronic systems.
Graduates will have developed a thorough technical understanding of photonic systems, with a firm grip of the fundamentals in the broad areas of communications, biophotonics, displays, lighting and processing. All students will be equipped with the fundamental concepts in this area, and will have opportunity to specialise in a chosen area (eg, chemical/bio-sensors, computer vision, control, digital filters, image processing, RF circuits, network software, optical transmission networks, et cetera). They will also be equipped with an understanding of business practice and commercial exploitation routes for ICT-based technologies.
They will have cultivated a range of transferable and specialist skills allowing them to engage with business, innovation and technology development. These include:
- skills in the modelling, simulation and experimental evaluation of photonic systems;
- critically evaluating and finding alternative solutions to technical problems;
- carrying out surveys of existing technologies and research topics, and provide a detailed and critical overview of a technology or research area;
- academic research skills developed through practical experience in mini-projects;
- team-working and time-management;
- critical reasoning;
By the end of the PhD, successful students will have produced original work making a significant contribution to knowledge in the area of integrated photonic and electronic systems.
All students on the 1+3 course who pass the MRes year will automatically proceed to study for the PhD, subject to them being accepted by a supervisor onto one of the offered PhD projects, and having demonstrated adequate research potential (such potential is normally demonstrated simply by passing the MRes year). Note that, as for all Cambridge PhDs, the first year of the PhD (the year after the MRes) is still probationary and students will be required to pass a first-year assessment.
Students on the one-year course must apply for the PhD through the Graduate Admissions system as normal.
The CDT is run in conjunction with University College London, which teaches approximately half of the taught options available for the MRes course. UCL also takes in an MRes cohort, who are taught alongside the Cambridge students.
Taught modules are available at both UCL and Cambridge, to be studied in the Michaelmas and Lent terms. Students are required to study a single module from a bio-physics list, a photonic systems list, and a business list; they will additionally study two modules from a list of electives. They will also carry out two individual mini-projects, assessed by dissertation. The first will be undertaken part-time in Michaelmas and Lent, the second full-time from the Easter Term.
Additionally, students will attend an induction programme, weekly sessions on transferable skills, monthly seminars, and an Industry Day.
Successful MRes students on the 1 + 3 programme will then proceed to a three-year programme of supervised doctoral research, during which time they will continue to be supported by the CDT. Students will present at the CDT's Annual Colloquium and conferences, will continue to participate in relevant technical and business courses (as agreed with each student's supervisory team), and will provide lectures and mentoring for junior students.
The numbers given below reflect the MRes year only.
|One to one supervision||
40 hours per year
|Seminars & classes||
16 hours per year
100 hours per year
720 hours per year
|Small group teaching||
20 hours per year
Literature reviews will be an important part of the project work. This will take around 80 hours over the course of the projects.
All MRes students will participate in a mini-conference prior to submission of the report on the first project, during which they will give a presentation on their research lasting between 10 and 15 minutes. This contribution is assessed as part of the project mark.
Additionally, all students participate in the UCL annual Postgraduate Research Poster Display.
Some MRes mini-projects will be based in industry. With University permission, there may be an opportunity in the third year of the course (second year of the PhD programme) for students to undertake an industrial or academic placement.
Students can expect to receive reports at least termly on the Cambridge Graduate Supervision Reporting System. They will receive comments on items of coursework, and will have access to a University supervisor for their dissertation. All students will also have access to the Course Director and the other staff delivering the course.
There is no thesis requirement (other than the project reports) for students on the one-year programme.
Students on the 1 + 3 programme must submit a report of 10,000 to 15,000 words at the end of the second year of the degree (the first year of the PhD programme).
The doctoral dissertation must be submitted by the end of the fourth year (the third year of the PhD programme) and must not exceed 65,000 words. A compulsory viva voce examination will follow thesis submission.
Some of the modules available to MRes students are assessed by coursework, or by a combination of coursework and written examination.
All students are required to complete two mini-project reports, each of not more than 10,000 words. The assessment of the first mini-project includes an oral presentation of the project work.
Some of the modules available to MRes students are assessed by written examination, or by a combination of coursework and written examination.
Some of the coursework involves substantial laboratory work.
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