The Department of Materials at Oxford offers an exciting environment in which to work for a DPhil degree. With, at the time of writing, 26 academic staff, 15 Senior Research Fellows, and around 150 research students and 65 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. Further information about our current research.
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.
Research projects available
We offer a wide range of exciting research projects, details of which can be found at Projects Available in Materials Science.
Further information on our research degree programmes
The following research degree programmes are offered by the Department of Materials, further information being available through the weblinks provided:
DPhil in Materials. A three-year or three and a half-year Doctoral programme, known as a PhD elsewhere, for which approximately 30 places are available.
MSc(Research) in Materials. A two year research Masters programme, for which only a small number of places may be available.
A number of EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Programmes, each of four years duration, which involve a significant number of compulsory taught elements.
Members of academic staff in the Department of Materials also contribute to the following EPSRC CDT programmes:
- New & Sustainable Photovoltaics EPSRC CDT
- Science & Applications of Plastic Electronics EPSRC CDT
- Theory & Modelling in Chemical Sciences EPSRC CDT
- Biomedical Imaging EPSRC & MRC CDT
What about funding?
All UK (1) applicants with at least a strong upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject (primarily materials, chemistry, physics or engineering) are considered for our fully-funded EPSRC studentships.
Equivalently qualified 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) 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.
These classifications as ‘Home/EU’ or ‘Overseas’ are set by the University.
All research students are members of a college. 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. Further information on colleges.
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 (DPhil graduate in 2006, then RAEng/ EPSRC Research Fellow in the Department, now Assistant Professor at the 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 other opportunities available in Oxford make it an excellent place to study for a doctorate. I left Oxford in 2013, but I still collaborate with my former colleagues in the Department, and also many of my peers who now hold academic posts at other leading Universities. Studying for a DPhil at Oxford Materials can provide an excellent foundation for an academic career’.
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 world leading 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.
The Department of Materials Graduate Course Handbook
Courses available to members of the MPLSD Graduate School
Summary of Provision for Materials Research Students
A Guide to the Supervision of Research Students
An outline of the compulsory and progression requirements for the DPhil in Materials
(similar progression requirements apply to our other research degree programmes; for details please refer to our Graduate Course Handbook)