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PhD Programme

The full course regulations and requirements can be found in the information for current postgraduate students, below is a summary.


Advanced Lecture Courses and Training

The student's research training will be individually tailored to the requirements of their project. Formal teaching in lectures and seminars, a necessary extension of undergraduate training into more specialised areas, is organised principally through the Midlands Physics Alliance Graduate School (MPAGS). Most students take 6 MPAGS modules over the first two years, while students in Particle Physics and Astronomy have the opportunity to attend specialised lectures and workshops organised by the research groups and partner organisations. Students in Condensed Matter Physics often use specialised instruments or beamlines at central facilities such as Diamond or ILL, who may also provide specialised training.

Links with Industry

Some PhDs are supported explicitly by industrial partners, such as Johnson Matthey or Element 6, either in full or as part of a Research Council scheme. An MPAGS scheme, introduced for the academic year 2010-11, enables eligible PhD students to spend up to 3 months working with a company during their studies. Their period of registration will be extended accordingly and the normal stipend will be paid; the placement enables you to gain valuable industrial / commercial experience and contacts.

Progress Monitoring

The department's Graduate Progress Committee maintains several contact points in each year of study with research students in order to help them stay on course for a timely completion of their thesis and to give practice in essential skills (scientific writing, oral presentations, literature review, etc.). For example, students are required to write a report on their research which is orally examined in order to qualify to proceed to the second year of training. Students are also expected to participate in the Departmental Colloquium series and in appropriate Research Group seminars. Towards the end of their second year each student gives a talk and presents a poster on their own research at a mini symposium based in the Department. In subsequent years progress reports are required at regular intervals and students are encouraged to attend further courses in which they have special interests. This also gives PhD students a chance to raise personal academic matters of concern with the department independently of their supervisor or PG-SSLC.

Skills Development

Whilst concentrating on their particular project, graduate students will also acquire a range of transferable skills that will be enhanced through attending workshops and courses. Each student will build up their own training record that will be used both to assess their progress and as the basis for a CV. The Postgraduate Certificate in Transferable Skills in Science is a formal qualification on which all our PhD students are enrolled and ensures that the many skills developed during the PhD are recorded and accredited.

Original Research and Thesis Submission

A key requirement of the PhD is to conduct original research and to make a substantial original contribution to knowledge. You will have the opportunity to work with leading researchers and with state-of-the-art equipment. During your studies, you will normally attend several UK and international scientific conferences to present your work, and typically will co-author several peer-reviewed scientific publications. The degree is awarded on the basis of the PhD thesis, which is normally examined by two academics. Some sample theses can be found on research group pages or at WRAP (search for physics subject heading "QC").

Funding will normally come to an end after 3.5 years and all PhD students must submit their thesis within their funded period or soon after it. Extensions of up to one year may be applied for if absolutely necessary. The Graduate Progress Committee will help with thesis planning meetings and progress checks, including beyond the funded period, to ensure that students spend the minimum unfunded time writing up and can submit a successful thesis promptly.