Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage

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Key Programme Information

Entry Year


Programme length

4 year(s)


Mathematics and Physics


The CDT is a partnership between Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Glasgow which aims to tackle some of the challenges created by the increasing quantities of data generated by today's society. 

Established in 2014 with substantial investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), both universities and industrial partners including Seagate, the industry leader in hard disc drives and storage solutions, the Centre is helping to address a skills shortage in the photonics industry by educating future scientists and engineers.  

The Centre’s focus is on developing highly-manufacturable photonic integration technologies related to the magnetic storage of digital information.  The development of these technologies will be relevant to a wide spectrum of end-users – from telecommunications to biophotonics, in which optical technologies are applied to living organisms and health care. 

Unique Mode of Study

Registration is on a full-time basis for 4 years. Students are registered at both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow. In the first year, students spend one semester completing a range of taught courses at each institution. Year 1 also includes attendance at the Innovation Academy in Dublin and specialist training given by Seagate Technology on global collaboration and distributed working; the Centre coordinates travel and accommodation arrangements. Students then undertake a summer research project located in either, or between both Universities before going on to identify their substantive PhD research project.

All PhD projects take place under the direction of a cross-institutional supervisory team, led by the University where the majority of the research is undertaken. All candidates submit the PhD thesis at the end of four years of full-time registration.
In Years 2-4 candidates undertake further courses from the Innovation Academy leading to the award of a Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Upon successful completion of optional additional modules candidates may also be eligible for the award of MRes in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage.

Research Strengths

CDT students benefit from access to top academics in the field from both universities and have access to the state of the art facilities at the Centre for Nanostructured Media at QUB and the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the University of Glasgow.

The available research projects fall under five research themes:

  • Ultra-reliable semiconductor lasers operating in hostile environments
  • Low cost planar lightwave circuit platforms, suitable for volume manufacture
  • Novel nanoplasmonic devices capable of operating in extreme environments
  • Advanced materials for magnetic recording
  • Atomic scale analysis techniques.

These themes encompass the expertise of our staff from the Schools of Physics and Astronomy, School of Engineering at Glasgow and the Centre for Nanostructured Media in Belfast in underlying science and materials for next-generation data storage and information-processing technologies. An increasing role for advanced functional materials and optics and optical excitations, particularly in ever-diminishing dimensions in a host of applications.

Our established strengths in these themes places the CDT in a unique position to offer globally leading training and research opportunities.  Throughout the CDT programme, students have opportunities to undertake internships and placements with our industrial partners.

Entry Requirements

A research degree offers you the opportunity to develop your research skills and prove yourself as a researcher. Queen's is committed to the enhancement of research training and teaching and offers postgraduate research opportunities across all fields of study. 


The minimum academic requirement for admission to this research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree in a cognate physical sciences or engineering discipline from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Cognate disciplines include physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, chemical engineering. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

International Qualifications

For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Additional Information for International Students

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. (*Taken within the last 2 years)

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme. Please click the links below for more information:

  • English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English

How To Apply

Applicants for Postgraduate programmes are strongly advised to carefully read the important information and follow the steps set out here before submitting their application via the Postgraduate Direct Applications Portal.

If you have queries on course content please contact the school representative below.

Professor R M Bowman
EPSRC CDT in Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage School of Mathematics and Physics
Tel: 9097 6005

Useful Links

Queen’s direct link to Applications Portal:

Queen’s direct link to Postgraduate Admissions Policy:

Queen’s direct link to Study at Queen’s in Belfast:

Steps to Postgraduate Study:

CDT Website:

Innovation Academy: 

How To Apply

Career Prospects

The CDT programme has been designed and delivered in close consultation with an impressive range of industrial partners. Through placements, internships, annual conclaves, industrial seminars, industrial site visits and project supervision, our students benefit from ongoing opportunities to engage with the Centre’s industrial partners, such as Seagate Technology, IQE and Oclaro.

Our students develop sophisticated technical, research and management skills and they are well equipped to progress to a range of research and development, technical and management roles in industry and academia.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

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Special Features

The programme, delivered by leading academics from both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow, leads to a jointly awarded research degree from both institutions.  Students also complete the Innovation Academy’s Postgraduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

CDT students undertake a diverse and exciting range of topical doctoral research projects which cut across physics, materials and electrical and optical engineering through to applications as diverse as data storage and biosciences.  The four-year doctoral training programme provides a framework for student cohorts to be educated, trained and to learn from industry best practice in distributed working and to develop key management skills. 

During the first year CDT students engage in exploratory projects at both universities and a summer research project, before choosing and embarking on their substantive PhD project from years 2-4.

Last updated 19.01.17

Fees & Funding

There is a range of funding and scholarship options available to those considering study at Queen's.

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For tuition fee information see //

PhD Funded Studentships
We offer fully funded studentships to outstanding postgraduate researchers across our three faculties and five Doctoral Training Centres. Find PhD funding opportunities.

Tuition Fees for 2017/18
Home/EU Fees: £4,121
International Fees: £17,885
Additional Costs of £34,000 for all students over the life of the 4-year programme; contact the School for more information
For more information please see Tuition Fees 

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Photonic Integration & Advanced Data Storage offers 4 -year fully-funded PhD studentships to UK and EU students covering tuition fees and a maintenance stipend at the current EPSRC rate. CDT students also benefit from significant funding for travel and mobility between the institutions as well as to conferences. 

Each student also has significant individually tailored research project expenses.

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