Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy

PhD in Materials Science

Between 30 and 40 students are admitted to PhD studies in Materials Science each academic year.  The majority begin their studies in October but a small number are admitted in January and April.

Students should have achieved at least an upper second honours degree prior to admission in a four year Master’s level qualification (or overseas equivalent).  The department will take into consideration academic results, content of references, and prior relevant research or work experience when deciding whether or not to offer a place.  Applicants should identify potential supervisors, and provide a short project description, in section A(12) of the GradSAF, so that their papers can be considered by appropriate members of the academic staff.  Candidates will be interviewed by telephone or Skype.  It is important to note that limitations on space and the equipment and research facilities available mean that we cannot always make an offer, even to a well-qualified applicant.

An illustrative list of PhD projects is at http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/prospective/graduate/PhD_Projects.pdf.   Prospective applicants are welcome to make contact with academic staff to discuss the research opportunities available.  On occasion a fully-funded project supported by external funds is awarded to the Department.  There is a list of these at http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/prospective/graduate/PhD_Studentships.pdf.   The great majority of these are available only to students who pay ‘home rate’ fees.

Each student is assigned a principal supervisor (and sometimes a co-supervisor) from among the academic staff working in his/her area(s) of research interest, and may also be supervised on a regular basis by other members of the research group. 

Students are initially registered for a ‘Probationary PhD’.  During their first year they must pass assessment tests for two of the in-depth courses (some of which are shared with other degree courses) offered by the Department.  They must also give a short research presentation towards the end of their first year of study, and in their second year prepare a poster on their research results, or the general area of research interest.  Students are also expected to attend seminars given by members of the University, and experts from outside, and external conferences.

Students are expected to carry out independent research which is assessed by an oral examination of a 60 000 word dissertation and the general area(s) of Materials Science in which it falls.  PhD students are encouraged to participate in many of the training opportunities and other activities available to students in the Department and become fully integrated members of the Department's Research School.