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Postgraduate Research

Physics

School of Mathematics and Physics | PhD
Entry Year
Academic Year 2024/25
Entry Requirements
2.1

Overview

The scientific research within the School of Mathematics and Physics was highly rated in the 2021 REF peer-review exercise, with 90% of research being judged as internationally excellent or world-leading. Physics and Astronomy at Queen's has been ranked 16th in the UK (Complete University Guide 2023) and joint 3rd in the UK for Graduate Prospects (Complete University Guide 2023).

Physics research activity in the School is focused into three specific Research Centres; all members of academic staff belong to one of these Research Centres, listed below.

Astrophysics Research Centre (PhD/MPhil)
Find out more below, or email Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis (m.mathioudakis@qub.ac.uk)

Centre for Light-Matter Interactions (PhD/MPhil)
Find out more below, or email Professor Marco Borghesi (m.borghesi@qub.ac.uk)

Centre for Quantum Materials and Technologies (PhD/MPhil)
Find out more below, or email Dr Amit Kumar (a.kumar@qub.ac.uk)

Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).

Subject Summary

Physics research activity is focused into three specific Research Centres. Students will have the opportunity to work with academics who are world-leading researchers in their specialist fields. Students will enjoy the benefits of modern practical laboratories, extensive computer facilities and research space. The aim of our postgraduate research is to develop your capacity for scholarship and equip you with the necessary skills and opportunities to make an original contribution to knowledge. Training is primarily through your supervisory team and also through seminars and workshops organised by the School. You also will have opportunities for specialist training through the Graduate School and other professional departments.

Physics Highlights

Career Development
  • Queen's graduates from Physics have secured employment through a number of companies such as Allstate, AquaQ Analytics, Citigroup, Deloitte, First Derivatives, PwC, Randox, Seagate, Teach First and UCAS. In addition, Belfast has been ranked as the world’s most business friendly small-medium sized city (Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence, 2018)
World Class Facilities
  • Since 2014, the School has invested over £12 million in new world-class student and staff facilities. Maths and Physics students have their own teaching centre that opened in 2016, housing brand experimental physics laboratories, two large computer rooms plus a student interaction area with a new lecture theatre and study rooms. In addition to this, Belfast has one of the lowest student cost of living in the UK (Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2022).
Internationally Renowned Experts
  • Physics and Astronomy has been ranked joint 3rd in the UK for Graduate Prospects (Guardian University Guide 2023). The School has a continually growing international community of both undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff. Our research is conducted and recognised as excellent across the world. Staff are involved in cutting-edge research projects that span a multitude of fields.
    In addition, Belfast is ranked in the top 10 fastest growing tech cities in the UK (UK Digital Economy Council, 2021)

Key Facts

  • Students will have access to our facilities, resources and our dedicated staff. The School of Maths & Physics is one of the largest Schools in the University. Staff are involved in cutting-edge research that spans a multitude of fields.

Student Testimonials

Course content

Research Information

Research Themes
Astrophysics (PhD/MPhil)

You’ll be involved in the search for distant supernovae and where they came from; study the asteroid and comet population in the Solar system; look for planets orbiting other stars in our Galaxy; study flares and other dynamic processes in the atmosphere of the Sun. You’ll have the opportunity to spend extensive periods at world-leading research centres such as the European Southern Observatory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

At Queen’s we lead major European consortia and are supported by a multi-million pounds portfolio of research grants from a range of sources, including the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Royal Society, and European Union.

Research Themes
Centre for Quantum Materials and Technologies (PhD/MPhil)

Human history is defined by the materials we use to underpin our technology: stone, bronze, iron, silicon. As we enter the emerging Quantum era, this impetus on materials and their link to technologies becomes even stronger. As a PhD student in Centre for Quantum Materials Technologies, you will be playing a part in the development of materials systems which will, in some way, define our technology for the future. How can this not be exciting? You will seek to reveal the physics of material behaviour at the boundary of current global knowledge and quantum limits, at the same time, become proficient in techniques for Quantum computation, materials growth, patterning, characterisation and theoretical modelling.

These skills are highly valued in high-tech companies and commercial research institutions, as well as in academic research settings. Our laboratories and computational facilities are extremely well-equipped for international-level research and our links to other research teams throughout the world in both academia and industry are strong and you should expect to travel, should you wish to, as part of your PhD experience.

Research Themes
Centre for Light Matter Interactions (PhD/MPhil)

Your research will involve identifying, and responding to, major open problems in laser- and electrically-produced plasmas, ultra-fast atomic and molecular physics, the interaction of ionising radiation and plasmas with matter (including biological systems), the physics of antimatter interactions with atoms and molecules, and the description of strong field laser interactions with atoms and molecules.

You will address fundamental and/or practical questions related to the description of electronic excitations, optical properties of matter, and the interaction between electric currents, heat and light. Your theoretical activity will imply the development and programming of novel simulation methodologies to model such processes. Experimentally, you will employ local, national and international facilities, including some of the most powerful laser systems worldwide ,while benefiting from transferring your research findings into the industrial and medical sectors.

Academic Testimonials

Career Prospects

Alumni Success
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others have progressed into jobs such as Data Scientist, Software Engineer, Financial Software Developer, IT Graduate Associate, Technology Consultant, Research Physicist, Telescope Operator and R&D Engineer.
http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/CareersInformationbySchoolandSector/MathsandPhysics/MathsandPhysicsCareerOptions/

People teaching you

Dr Amit Kumar
Head of Research Centre - Centre for Quantum Materials and Technologies
School of Maths and Physics

Prof Brendan Dromey
Co-Head of Research Centre - Centre for Light-Matter Interactions
School of Maths and Physics

Prof Hugo Van Der Hart
Co-Head of Research Centre - Centre for Light-Matter Interactions
School of Maths and Physics

Prof Mihalis Mathioudakis
Head of Research Centre - Astrophysics Research Centre
School of Maths and Physics

Course structure

There is no specific course content as such. A PhD programme runs for 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time. Students can register for a writing up year should it be required.

The PhD is open to both full and part time candidates and is often a useful preparation for a career within academia or consultancy.

Application Process
Please review the eligibility criteria on the webpages. If you believe that you meet these criteria then follow the steps below:

Select ONE potential supervisor from our list of Academic Staff: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/find-a-phd-supervisor/ and send an email to that supervisor advising that you are interested in studying for a PhD, stating when you would start, and how you would plan to fund the research. It would be helpful to provide a a brief statement of the research question or interest, and how you think the question could be investigated. The potential supervisor may invite you to meet with them or they may invite you to apply formally.

Assessment

Assessment processes for the Research Degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present drafts of their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.

This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.

The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.

Feedback

Supervisors will offer feedback on draft work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.

Facilities

Our world-class facilities support research and teaching across a diverse range of areas designed to fulfil specific activities. The School contains 4,700m2 of purpose-built laboratory space which includes the ANSIN materials research hub, the Ewald Microscopy Facility (EMF) and the Taranis laser facility. The Teaching Centre (opened in 2016) includes experimental physics laboratories, two large computer rooms and plenty of student study and interaction space. Our laboratories and equipment are looked after by a dedicated team of technicians and are used by our researchers, students and industry.

Learning and Teaching

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Project name School Funding Subject Status Sort Timestamp
Efficient laser wakefield acceleration for high energy applications
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Matthew Streeter
Supervisor
Dr Matthew Streeter
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
The magnetic and thermodynamic properties of small-scale solar magnetic structures
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis
Supervisor
Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
9 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1707436800
Solar Feature Recognition with Deep Learning
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Peter Keys
Supervisor
Dr Peter Keys
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
9 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1707436800
Exploring the Solar System's Small Body Reservoirs with Rubin Observatory
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Megan Schwamb
Supervisor
Dr Megan Schwamb
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
9 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1707436800
A Dirac-Rmatrix approach to the determination of opacities
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Connor Ballance
Supervisor
Professor Connor Ballance
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
9 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1707436800
Instrumentation at the forefront of solar physics: sunspot dynamics at the highest resolutions
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor David Jess
Supervisor
Professor David Jess
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
9 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1707436800
The Coherent Harmonic Focus - High Harmonic Generation in the Multi-Petawatt Regime
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Brendan Dromey
Supervisor
Professor Brendan Dromey
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Professor Brendan Dromey
Funding
Funded
Collaborative funding with XFEL Hub of STFC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Synthesizing Twisted Light Field for Manipulating Chiral Matter
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Jason Greenwood
Supervisor
Dr Jason Greenwood
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Transport and characterization of advanced, laser-driven ion beams
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Marco Borghesi
Supervisor
Professor Marco Borghesi
Funding
Funded
CAST/Central Laser Facility
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Laser-driven Compton sources for material detection and nuclear photonics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Gianluca Sarri
Supervisor
Professor Gianluca Sarri
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Computational pump-probe spectroscopy involving X-ray laser fields
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Hugo Van Der Hart
Supervisor
Professor Hugo Van Der Hart
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Line identifications for heavy elements of importance in kilonova modelling
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor David Riley
Supervisor
Professor David Riley
Funding
Funded
STFC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Lorenzo Stella
Funding
Funded
Leverhulme Trust
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Automated exploration of off-Hugoniot states of matter at the EU XFEL
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Matthew Streeter
Supervisor
Dr Matthew Streeter
Funding
Funded
XFEL Physical Sciences Hub
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Mark Yeung
Funding
Funded
Collaborative funding with Helmholtz Institute
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Hunting (new) Rabbitts
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Andrew Brown
Supervisor
Dr Andrew Brown
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Amit Kumar
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Amit Kumar
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Molecular Magnetism investigations assisted by Machine Learning
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Solveig Felton
Supervisor
Dr Solveig Felton
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Molecular Magnetism and Machine Learning
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr David Wilkins
Supervisor
Dr David Wilkins
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Twistronics and Novel Functional Interfaces in Ferroelectrics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Marty Gregg
Supervisor
Professor Marty Gregg
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Microstructural control of thermal transport in oxide materials
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Ray McQuaid
Supervisor
Dr Ray McQuaid
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Electromagnetic Coupling Effects in Thin Film Ferroics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Marty Gregg
Supervisor
Professor Marty Gregg
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Joule heating in atomic wires
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Tchavdar Todorov
Supervisor
Dr Tchavdar Todorov
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Novel Synthetic Magnetic Structures for All-Optical Magnetic Recording
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Robert Bowman
Supervisor
Professor Robert Bowman
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Gareth Tribello
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Exploring surface-chemistry driven effects in ferroelectrics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Miryam Arredondo
Supervisor
Dr Miryam Arredondo
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Exploring domain continuity in polycrystalline ferroics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Miryam Arredondo
Supervisor
Dr Miryam Arredondo
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
“Hard” metals: Looking for alternative material for high temperature applications
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Lorenzo Stella
Supervisor
Dr Lorenzo Stella
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Quantifying Energetic Resources in Quantum Machine Learning: A Comprehensive Analysis
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Gabriele De Chiara
Supervisor
Dr Gabriele De Chiara
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Simulating Linear and Nonlinear Spectroscopies of Aqueous Systems
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr David Wilkins
Supervisor
Dr David Wilkins
Funding
Funded
EPSRC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Dermot Green
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Supervisor
Dr Charlotte Palmer
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Quantum Chaos in Multicharged Positive Ions
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Gleb Gribakin
Supervisor
Dr Gleb Gribakin
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
8 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1707350400
Photon-Mediated Collective Effects in Quantum Optics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Hamidreza Siampour Ashkavandi
Supervisor
Dr Hamidreza Siampour Ashkavandi
Funding
Funded
DfE
Application deadline
29 February 2024
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1709164800

Entrance requirements

Graduate
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School of Mathematics and Physics.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

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 two years

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.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 TBC
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 TBC
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 TBC
EU Other 3 £25,600
International £25,600

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. All fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Physics costs

Depending on the area of research chosen there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

Bench fees

Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.

How do I fund my study?

1.PhD Opportunities

Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.

3.PhD loans

The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.

4.International Scholarships

Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

Funding and Scholarships

The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Find a supervisor

If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.

To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.

You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.

Download Postgraduate Prospectus