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Postgraduate research degrees in Physics at Exeter

Physics PhD studentships available now for start in 2022

At Exeter, you can study for a PhD in Physics within the following academic groups: Astrophysics; Biomedical physics; Electromagnetic and acoustic materials (EMAG); Quantum systems and nanomaterials (QSN), or for a PhD in Physics/Engineering as part of the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation's doctoral training programme.

We also have a vibrant theoretical physics programme with research spanning multiple themes.

Most students studying for a PhD at Exeter are funded by research grants or industry sponsors, though we are also happy to consider applications by "self-funded" students (including those supported by external scholarships) as well.

You have 4 options to apply for a PhD project:

1. You can apply directly for a specific project listed in our directly funded projects list. Please note the individual deadlines for each project within the project descriptions.

2. You can apply for one of the studentships funded through the EPSRC DTP programme. In order to do so, you will need to submit a research proposal.

Applications to the EPSRC DTP for 2022 entry have now closed.

3. If you are interested in Astrophysics, please view current Astrophysics PhD opportunities.

4. If you have your own funding, you may also apply for admission to postgraduate degrees. When you apply, you must indicate potential supervisors and upload a description of the research you hope to carry out during your PhD/MbyRes/Mphil. We recommend that you contact potential supervisors to discuss your plans before submitting an application."


At Exeter, the PhD normally lasts for 3.5 years, and funded positions typically include a living stipend (and payment of tuition) for that time. The PhD must be completed within four years of the start of study (barring extenuating circumstances and assuming full-time study). International students are eligible (and encouraged) to apply, but may not be eligible for all potential sources of funding.


Our PhD environment in Physics at Exeter

Research degrees like our MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research Physics or the PhD in Physics/Engineering (CMRI) offer a challenging and exciting opportunity to work at the cutting-edge of research. At the University of Exeter, research students are supported by our Doctoral College.

The Physics and Astronomy Department offers a world-class environment for students interested in a diverse array of problems in the physical sciences. Our research seeks both to uncover the fundamental laws that govern natural phenomena on all scales, and to apply these to the understanding of real-world problems. 

A PhD here could involve an analytical investigation of quantum systems that are at the heart of modern technology, or the fabrication of nano-scale structures and metamaterials to exploit the unique properties of such systems; it could mean using cutting-edge laboratory equipment (bolstered by recent multi-million pound investments into ultra-fast lasers, a multi-photon microscopy and spectroscopy suite, and more), or carrying out simulations on the University’s dedicated supercomputer.  

In whatever you do, you will be guided by one of our 50-plus permanent academic staff, many of whom have been recognised internationally for their world-leading research, and you will benefit from a lively and supportive community of other students and researchers. 

We collaborate extensively with researchers in other departments, other universities (both in the UK and abroad), the private sector, and public/ governmental organisations, and our students are active, valued participants in these collaborations.  We welcome students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders.

Studying at Exeter is great, the campus is so central, the sports facilities are excellent and the student satisfaction in Physics is incredibly high. There’s really good lecturers and fantastic tutors, who help you through your work each week. It never feels like you’re alone as there’s such a good support system here. Also, you’re so close to the beach which is great!

My PhD has been challenging, but I had a lot of support from my supervisor. My funding allowed me to go to a lot of national and international meetings and conferences. I’ve learned some skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life, whether it be in academia or if I go into data science, the skills I’ve learned are heavily sought after in both industries.

My advice to future students would be, do not be afraid to sign up to something that’s going to be four years long, see it as investing time in your future. In the long run it’s worth it and the skills you learn will help you in your career path.

Lewis Ireland - PhD Physics, 2018

Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation (CMRI)

The doctoral training programme at the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation (CMRI) provides an immersive research environment with the expertise and support to develop your ideas and explore new innovative pathways in functional materials and metamaterials.

Our PhD students (Postgraduate Reseachers, PGRs) learn together in targeted courses, self-driven activity groups, and exposure to industry to gain scientific background knowledge beyond their areas of expertise, and to equip themselves with transferable professional skills such as entrepreneurship, project management, and professional presentation skills. We are now home to a diverse community of over 30 active PGRs who are training in a stimulating, challenging yet supportive cohort-based environment. Since 2018, over 65 of our graduates have either entered employment in industry or become postdocs in Higher education Institutions in and outside the UK.

Centre website »