Postgraduate Research

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
11 place StudyQA ranking:5472 Duration:36 months

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Our research cuts across the traditional disciplinary boundaries, and we therefore invite applications for research leading to the PhD degree from scientists and engineers in all appropriate subjects who have an interest in any of our research areas.

The main application sectors addressed by our research are: energy conversion; environmental protection; transport; electronics/optoelectronics; and healthcare. Across all themes the research is carried out with strong support from and involvement of industrial organisations. This close collaboration with industry, alongside our first class facilities, ensures that the Department is at the forefront of Materials Science and Engineering research.


Computational techniques for crystal twin nucleation and growth in hcp polycrystals

Twinning is an interesting microstructure-level deformation phenomenon which occurs in commercially useful Ti and Zr alloys. Quantitatively predictive computational crystal plasticity techniques remain elusive and difficult to establish firstly because of the absence of a sound mechanistic understanding and secondly, because of the inherently unstable nature of twin formation leading to local non-equilibrated stress states in the analysis techniques. This project aims to utilise both quasi-static and dynamic testing with  advanced characterisation in order to develop mechanistic understanding together with the establishment of novel computational  crystal plasticity techniques to provide quantitative predictive capability.

Crystal plasticity modelling techniques for x-ray diffraction studies of polycrystal deformation

X-ray diffraction techniques are employed to measure the straining developed in polycrystal alloys at the level of the microstructure. The measurements give rise to distributions of crystallographic lattice spacing distributions (called peaks) which are observed to broaden, as a result partially because of the development of dislocation structures, but also because of elastic lattice distortions. The measurements obtained are sometimes difficult to interpret because of the absence of knowledge of the underlying physical mechanisms, but also because of the averaging and superposition of diffracted waves utilised in the x-ray technique. This project aims to establish crystal plasticity modelling techniques which address and eliminate the superposition problem, and which provide insight and quantitative detail for the interpretation of the experimental measurements.

Modelling methodologies for microstructure-sensitive crack growth in aero-engine PM Ni alloys

Powder metallurgy (PM) produced nickel alloys are increasingly important for aero-engine components (such as turbine discs). A life-limiting factor is the nucleation and growth of defects which sometimes originate from key microstructural features. A considerable fraction of component life is potentially determined by the subsequent growth of the cracking which remains sensitive to the local microstructure. This project focuses on the establishment of computational modelling techniques with which microstructure-sensitive crack growth may be accurately captured in order to enable reliable component lifing analysis codes. The project is in collaboration with Rolls-Royce plc.

In-situ studies of deformation in semi-solid steels

This project will stud y the fundamental microstructural response to load in partially-solid alloys by time-resolved synchrotron X-ray video microscopy.  We will use concepts from soil and magma mechanics to measure individual grain displacements during l oading, the coupling of grain motion and liquid flow and develop new insight into defect formation in the casting of steels. 

For admission to a PhD, MPhil, MD (Res) or EngD research programme the College would normally expect you to hold or achieve a Master's degree in addition to a Bachelor's degree at 2A level.

Please note that the requirements below are the College minimum entry requirements, equivalent to a UK Lower Second Class Honours (2B) degree.  Each Department is able to ask for higher grades than listed, and many Departments look for a minimum of a UK Upper Second Class Honours (2A) degree or equivalent.

Research Council studentships (PhD)

UK Research Council awards for Home/EU students

UK Research Councils have allocated awards or provide the College with funding for specific activity, and full awards (for UK nationals and EU nationals who have taken their first degree in the UK and are normally ordinarily resident within the EEA) cover maintenance and 'home' rate fees. Otherwise, EU nationals are normally eligible for fee support only.

Individuals should visit their prospective department’s website, for the latest funding opportunities available.

Please note that departments will contact you if they wish to nominate you. You must have been offered admission as a postgraduate student in order for your nomination to be forwarded.


There are residence requirements which are mainly in line with Home/EU fee status classification – see the overseas fees liability information and also the relevant guidance on each research council website. In addition, candidates must have applied for admission at Imperial College London, and be holding an offer, at the time of nomination.

Academic qualifications

Candidates must have a good Honours degree from a British academic institution. For a research studentship this must be a first or upper second class Honours degree; for an advanced course studentship, it should be a first or second class Honours degree. Research Councils may also accept qualifications or a combination of qualifications and experience that shows equivalent ability and attainment.


Candidates must be recommended by the institution that nominates them and, in some instances, by the head of the department where they graduated.

Previous postgraduate training

1. Research studentships for PhD students
These are normally awarded for not more than three years. The duration of such a studentship will be reduced by a period equal to any previous period of postgraduate training, or of activity equivalent to postgraduate training, undertaken by the student. Exceptions are:

  • Up to one year of any full-time study not supported by UK public funds may be disregarded. 

  • Previous postgraduate training may be disregarded when it took the form of a taught course necessary to enable the student to carry out research in a field substantially different from that studied for his/her first degree.

2. Advanced course studentships for Master's students
Please note that advanced course studentships are not normally awarded to candidates who have recently spent a full-time period in postgraduate training or in an activity equivalent to postgraduate training.

Application procedure

The majority of Research Councils award studentships through the heads of departments of universities and colleges where the awards are to be held. The AHRC and ESRC allocate some of their awards through an open competition; however, students cannot apply unless they have departmental support. Research Councils do not accept applications direct from individual students. Those wishing to be considered for an award should contact the department in which they intend to study. Application forms will then be made available to those students whom the department wishes to nominate.

As a result of increasing competition for awards in recent years, it does not follow that a student who satisfies the eligibility criteria will necessarily be nominated for a studentship by the College nor, if nominated by the College, awarded a studentship by the Research Councils.

Those students who wish to be considered for Research Council support are advised to make an application for admission to the College as soon as possible, paying due regard to the relevant closing date and bearing in mind that they will need to have been accepted by the department well in advance of that time.

Candidates nominated for a studentship (particularly under the CASE award scheme) are advised not to relinquish any post they may be holding until they have received confirmation from the Research Council that the award has been granted. Notification of the results of Research Council Studentships nominations is sometimes delayed until near the start of session.

Imperial College PhD Scholarship 
2015-16 academic year

If you are a high performing undergraduate or Master’s student, and have a strong desire to undertake a PhD programme at a world class research institution, you could be selected to receive full tuition fees and a generous stipend for a PhD place at Imperial College London.

The scheme aims to provide up to 50 research students with great potential the opportunity to work within their chosen research field with the support of an excellent supervisor.

The earliest start date for funded places is 1 August 2015.

Scholars will have access to a programme of career development and cohort activities delivered by a combination of their host department and the Graduate School. Graduate School have also developed a bespoke programme of opportunities for scholars.

Support will be available to allow a high degree of interaction with other researchers (at other HEIs in the UK and abroad) and research users. This will provide valuable opportunities for networking and collaboration. 

Download a self nomination form here (word)


Successful candidates will receive the following financial support for up to 3.5 years: 

  • Full funding for tuition fees 

  • A stipend of £20,400 per annum to assist with living costs 

  • A consumables fund of £2,000 per annum for the first 3 years of study


  1. Applications are accepted from talented candidates from Imperial College London, the UK and worldwide. There are no restrictions on nationality. 

  2. Candidates must be among the highest achievers in their undergraduate cohort, and in receipt of, or due to receive a first class UK degree or equivalent. 

  3. Candidates with Master’s qualifications should have achieved a distinction or, where this has yet to have been achieved, be able to provide evidence of high performance that will lead to a distinction. They should also hold a first class UK undergraduate degree or equivalent. 

  4. Candidates with degrees from overseas institutions are strongly urged to determine if their scores/grades are equivalent to the relevant eligibility criteria. 

  5. Prior to applying candidates must have made contact with a supervisor in an academic department at Imperial College London who has agreed to supervise their research project. Please note that supervisors are only permitted to supervise one scholar at any time. Please review this list of existing supervisors [xls] who are not available to supervise a student on this scholarship scheme. Please note: current registered Imperial PhD students are not eligible to be considered for an Imperial College PhD Scholarship. The scheme is only open to new PhD applications.

How to apply

The scheme is now open for applications.

There is not a specific scholarship application form.  You should submit your application for admission to study at Imperial through our online admissions system and your department will put you forward for the scholarship based on academic merit and potential.

  1. When prompted for a personal statement you must ensure that it consists of approx. 1000 words and outlines your academic and research achievements to date, explaining in brief your planned research project. 

  2. You must also attach a completed Self-nomination form [Word] which tells your department that you want to be considered for this specific scholarship scheme. 

Eligible candidates will be advanced to the next review and selection process; please see the deadlines below.

Review and selection

Applications will be reviewed by a two-stage process:

  1. Candidates meeting or predicted to meet the eligibility requirements will be reviewed by the Department to which they have applied. Departments will select a shortlist of the very best candidates to present to the Imperial College Selection Panel for consideration. 

  2. The final decision will be made by the Imperial College Selection Panel. The members of the panel are the Vice-Provost (Research) and the Faculty Vice-Deans for Research. The Panel will consider shortlisted candidates from all Faculties. Scholarships will be awarded to the candidates who show the most potential. 

Successful candidates will receive written confirmation of their scholarship. Any offer of a PhD place will be conditional on final interview by the Department and (if applicable) on the candidate receiving the predicted qualifications.

Applicants not selected for the scholarship will automatically be considered for the PhD.

When should I expect a decision on my scholarship application?

Applications put forward for this scholarship scheme will be considered throughout the academic year.

  • Applicants who apply before 31 October 2014 and are awarded a scholarship will be notified by 30 January 2015. 

  • Applicants who apply before 31 January 2015 and are awarded a scholarship will be notified by 1 April 2015. 

  • Applicants who apply before 7 April 2015 and are awarded a scholarship will be notified by 5 June 2015. 


Some  funds are available to UK/EU applicants only or who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start date.

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