The Department of Materials at Oxford offers an exciting environment in which to work for a DPhil degree. With approximately 30 academic staff, 150 research students and 50 postdoctoral research fellows, leading-edge research is carried out across the whole of materials science, ranging from atomic-scale characterization, through state-of-the-art materials modelling, to industrial-scale processing. The Department's high rating for research is evidence of its international excellence in a wide range of materials research.
In the UK Government’s most recent assessment of research excellence in UK universities, the 2008 RAE, Oxford Materials was one of the top-rated materials departments in the country. All eligible academic staff and 14 early career researchers (Royal Society URFs, RAEng Fellows and similar post-doctoral fellows) were submitted for assessment and 80% of our activity was judged to be in the highest categories of excellence (Grades 4* & 3*; respectively ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’).
Research Students of the Department of Materials are also members of the University's Mathematical Physical and Life Sciences Division Graduate School which provides a wide range of support and training.
The structure of a DPhil
This is a research degree, known as a PhD elsewhere, normally carried out in three and a half years under the supervision of an experienced staff member. There is a wide range of exciting DPhil projects available. In common with other U.K. universities the first year is a probationary year, after which students normally transfer to full D.Phil. status.
What about funding?
All UK (1) students with at least a strong upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject (primarily materials, chemistry, physics or engineering) are eligible to apply for our fully-funded EPSRC studentships; EU (2) students may receive a 'fees-only' grant from the EPSRC and in certain cases a fully funded studentship. For non-EU overseas students (3), funding is not necessarily available, but your attention is drawn to a number of special scholarships administered by the University's International Office. Full information about these schemes is available in the Graduate Studies Prospectus. Some of the individual projects described on the materials website carry earmarked funding and in these cases the eligibility of Home, EU and Overseas students is indicated.
(1) i.e. 'ordinarily resident' in the UK, or an EU national who has spent the previous three years in the UK undertaking undergraduate study and who therefore meets the residency requirements.
(2) i.e. 'ordinarily resident' in an EU country other than the UK.
(3) i.e. not 'ordinarily resident' in the UK or other EU country.
The definitions adopted by the University to classify students as ‘Home/EU’ or ‘Overseas’ for fees purposes are given in Appendix 2 of the Graduate Finance Guide found at http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/visa
On the graduate application form, you may choose to either (i) indicate that you have no college preference, in which case a college will be selected on your behalf, or (ii) state a college preference. You will not be able to amend your choice after submitting your application. Whether or not you state a college preference will not affect the Department's assessment of your application. For further information, please refer to the Application Guide at http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/application_guide/.
Why do a DPhil at Oxford?
See what some of our recent graduate students say about it:
Dave Armstrong (recent DPhil graduate student, now RAEng Fellow in the Department) ‘The Department of Materials has world class research facilities and friendly approachable academic staff. I have found this made for a lively and stimulating environment to work in. Graduates are well provided for, with regular social events and opportunities to gain teaching experience. While a graduate I had the opportunity to present my work at several major international conferences. The college system provides an excellent environment for social, cultural and sporting facilities.’
John Murphy (recent DPhil graduate, now Associate Professor at University of Warwick) describes the Department as 'an extremely stimulating place to work. The size of the Department and its research focus allows students, research fellows and academics with different backgrounds to interact frequently to solve problems in the wide range of fields of which materials science is comprised. The research facilities and opportunities available in Oxford make it an excellent place to study for a doctorate'.
Sarah Haigh (recent DPhil graduate, now Lecturer at University of Manchester) ‘The Department has some of the best training and facilities in the country and is a very friendly place to work. During my DPhil I have had the opportunity to teach undergraduates and help out on regular open days. The college system is also a bonus of studying at Oxford - as a graduate your college provides you with a great social life. Whilst at Linacre I tried knitting, attended courses in yoga and Pilates, and rowed for the college (despite not being especially 'sporty').’
Ling Ge (recent DPhil graduate, now at Imperial College) 'I came to the Department of Materials as a Clarendon scholar from China. The Department offers a wide range of cutting edge research projects. Working in an interdisciplinary field led me to collaborate with experimental physicists, chemists and other theoreticians as well as presenting at top international conferences. The college system and various societies provide wonderful facilities for our extracurricular activities at every level. For example, I danced for the university salsa team, played table tennis for the varsity, and rowed for my college.’
What happens after a DPhil?
Almost all of our DPhils find employment when they finish: an Oxford DPhil is keenly sought after by employers across the world. Some of our DPhil graduates enter industrial research, others go into university careers both in the UK and overseas, still others pursue challenging jobs as, for example, patent agents, management consultants etc. You will certainly enhance your chances of finding a good job if you are motivated to do a DPhil at Oxford Materials.