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Postgraduate Research

Physics

School of Mathematics and Physics | PhD
Entry Year
Academic Year 2023/24
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 at Queen's is currently joint 6th in the UK for Research Intensity and has been voted 13th in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

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 Interaction (PhD/MPhil)
Find out more below, or email Professor Marco Borghesi (m.borghesi@qub.ac.uk)

Centre for Quantum Materials and Technology (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 (Which? University, 2018).
Internationally Renowned Experts
  • Queen's is joint 6th in the UK for Research Intensity for Physics and Astronomy (Complete University Guide 2021). 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.
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.
PhDs are invariably a marathon, so if you have the passion and drive to do a PhD, I would certainly recommend studying at the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB. While studying my PhD at Queen’s, I am fortunate to have had a very supportive supervisor. By providing guidance at each step of the process, he has enabled me to succeed and, further, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to connect with my wider field in the UK, Europe and the USA through travel and collaboration, which has certainly been the highlight of my experience thus far.

Ryan Campbell, PhD Physics student, 2020

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 Interaction (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.

Postgraduate research programmes within CQMT provide experience and training in state-of-the art academic research: many of our research strands are world-leading, as evidenced by performance in REF2021. In addition, most of our postgraduate researchers are exposed to functional materials and photonics in major multinational companies.

Prof Marty Gregg - School of Mathematics and Physics
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 Marco Borghesi
Head of Research Centre - Centre for Light-Matter Interaction
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
Ga2O3 & ferroelectric thin films for next generation electronics
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Robert Bowman
Supervisor
Professor Robert Bowman
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
28 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1677542400
Supervisor
Dr Amit Kumar
Funding
Funded
DfE
Application deadline
28 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1677542400
Artificial quantum reservoirs for time-series quantum computing
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Mauro Paternostro
Supervisor
Professor Mauro Paternostro
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
28 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1677542400
Characterising extrasolar planetary systems from the Next Generation Transit Survey
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Chris Watson
Supervisor
Professor Chris Watson
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Multi-Wavelength Observations of Geoeffective Solar Flares
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Ryan Milligan
Supervisor
Dr Ryan Milligan
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Theoretical modelling of neutron star mergers: Atomic Theory and Radiation Transport.
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Cathy Ramsbottom
Supervisor
Dr Cathy Ramsbottom
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Tungsten Collisional-Radiative Models in support of impurity-influx measurements
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Connor Ballance
Supervisor
Dr Connor Ballance
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Searching For Giant Rings Around Exoplanets
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Ernst de Mooij
Supervisor
Dr Ernst de Mooij
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Looking through the eyes of FRANCIS: sunspot dynamics at the highest resolutions
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor David Jess
Supervisor
Professor David Jess
Funding
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
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
Funded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Supervisor
Dr Lorenzo Stella
Funding
Funded
Leverhulme Trust
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Laser Driven Neutron Sources at High Repetition Rate
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Satyabrata Kar
Supervisor
Dr Satyabrata Kar
Funding
Funded
DfE Case
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Supervisor
Dr Charlotte Palmer
Funding
Funded
EPSRC Case
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Analysing ultrafast atomic and molecular dynamics through sequences of attosecond pulses
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Hugo Van Der Hart
Supervisor
Professor Hugo Van Der Hart
Funding
Funded
TBC
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
High-precision dosimetry for ultra-short, high dose-rate irradiation sources
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Gianluca Sarri
Supervisor
Professor Gianluca Sarri
Funding
Funded
EPSRC Case
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
High-energy, laser-driven ion sources for advanced applications
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Marco Borghesi
Supervisor
Professor Marco Borghesi
Funding
Funded
DfE & AWE plc
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Development of automated plasma accelerators with machine learning algorithms
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Dr Matthew Streeter
Supervisor
Dr Matthew Streeter
Funding
Funded
CAST (QUB & CLF)
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Supervisor
Dr Emma McBride
Funding
Unfunded
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Unfunded Physics Open 2 1675987200
Radiobiology with laser-driven ions at ultra-high dose rate
School of Mathematics and Physics | PHD Professor Marco Borghesi
Supervisor
Professor Marco Borghesi
Funding
Funded
ELI Beamlines
Application deadline
10 February 2023
School of Mathematics and Physics Funded Physics Open 2 1675987200

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 £4,596
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,596
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,596
EU Other 3 £23,850
International £23,850

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. The NI/ROI, GB and Isles fees relate to academic year 2022-23 and will be updated to 2023-24 rates once they have been confirmed. 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