Postgraduate Studies






LEAP5000 - microanalysis one atom at a time

The Department of Materials at Oxford offers an exciting environment in which to work for a research degree. As a student on the DPhil in Materials or MSc (Research) in Materials programme you will be part of one of the top-ranked Materials departments in the world. Leading-edge research is carried out across a wide range of materials science, from atomic-scale characterization, through state-of-the-art materials modelling, to industrial-scale processing. Further information about our current research.

Our vibrant research school consists of around 30 academic staff, 16 Senior Research Fellows, and around 230 research students and 87 postdoctoral researchers. Our research students are of many nationalities and come to the department from diverse scientific backgrounds. They are graduates in the traditional subjects of Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering and also Mathematics, Earth Sciences and Biology.

The DPhil in Materials is normally carried out in three and a half to four years of full-time study under the supervision of an experienced member of staff. A wide range of exciting DPhil projects is available; including several on materials for nuclear fusion reactors some of which may be part of the Fusion CDT doctoral programme, and several on materials for solid state batteries some of which may be part of the Faraday Institution. Details of the DPhil programme, including training opportunities (academic courses, research-specific skills and generic transferable career skills) and progression requirements, can be found in the current version of the Materials Graduate Student Handbook (see link below, under 'Other Information').

Research interests of the Department extend over most branches of materials science, as well as some aspects of solid state physics and chemistry: they include the study of a wide range of materials of relevance in advanced technological applications, including metals and alloys, composites, semi- and super-conductors, polymers, biomaterials, ceramics and materials for quantum information processing. Much of the research is carried out in close collaboration with industry.

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 2014 REF, Oxford Materials was one of the top-rated materials departments in the country. 34.1 (FTE) academic staff, including several early career researchers (Royal Society URFs, RAEng Fellows and similar independent post-doctoral fellows), were submitted for assessment and 98% of our activity was judged to be in the highest categories of excellence [Grades 4* & 3*; respectively ‘world-leading’ (60%) and ‘internationally excellent’ (38%)]. 90% of our 'impact' was judged to be 'world-leading'.

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.

A brief look at some of our laboratories and an interview with one of our recent DPhil students, Sanmi Adekanye:


An introduction to Oxford Materials










In addition to the video above, you may find it helpful to view a 'Virtual Tour' of the Department, together with the other short videos and information available via the same webpage as the virtual tour.

Research projects available

We offer a wide range of exciting research projects, details of which can be found at Projects Available .

Further information about 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 to four-year Doctoral programme, known as a PhD elsewhere, for which approximately fifty-two places may be available.

MSc (Research) in Materials. A two year research Masters programme, for which only one or two places may be available.

What about funding?

All Home/ROI and Islands applicants with at least a strong upper second class UK honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject (primarily Materials, Chemistry, Physics or Engineering) are considered for our fully-funded Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) studentships. In addition you are eligible for a number of scholarships administered by the University. Full information about these schemes is available in the Graduate Studies Prospectus.

All International applicants (including EU applicants) with at least a strong upper second class UK honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject (primarily Materials, Chemistry, Physics or Engineering) are considered for our EPSRC studentships which provide a maintenance stipend and Course Fees at the Home student rate (normally the difference between the Course Fees at the Home and Overseas rates must be provided from a source such as industry, a scholarship from your government or self-funding). In addition you are eligible for a number of scholarships administered by the University. Full information about these schemes is available in the Graduate Studies Prospectus.

Some of the individual projects described on the Oxford Materials website carry earmarked funding and in these cases the eligibility of Home/ROI, Islands and International students is indicated. Typically these projects are funded by one or more of the following: EPSRC, EC, Industry, Private Donation, and UK Government.

[The classifications above, of ‘Home/ROI', 'Islands’ or ‘International’, are set by the University.]

College Choice

All research students are members of a college (further information on colleges). On the graduate application form, you may choose either (i) to indicate that you have no college preference, in which case a college will be selected on your behalf, or (ii) to 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. You can find out which colleges accept Materials research students at the 'College Preference' tab of the relevant course page (

Why become a DPhil student at Oxford Materials?

See what some of our recent graduate students say about this, and what they have gone on to do after their DPhil:


Grad Admissions Brittles

Greg Brittles (DPhil graduate in 2016, now a Superconducting Magnet Engineer at Tokamak Energy Ltd). ‘I studied Physics at Durham University and applied to Oxford Materials to pursue an exciting project supervised by very distinguished academics. I had a fantastic time! I was encouraged to pursue the research by following my own intuition, whilst being guided at every stage by dedicated supervisors. At my disposal was a well-integrated network of world experts to turn to for help, and the entire university’s array of measurement facilities, both of which allowed me to perform world class research. I had a different living arrangement to most, living outside of Oxford and commuting in by train. I treated the DPhil very much like a job in terms of my daily schedule, which was very manageable and gave me a good work/life balance. After graduating I joined one of Oxford’s many scientific start-up companies and have a stimulating engineering job out there in ‘the big wide world’. The analytic skills I learned at Oxford serve me well every day.’

Grad Admissions Chen

Qu Chen (DPhil Graduate in 2017, now at the Crick Institute) ‘The 3-year DPhil study in Oxford has been a fantastic experience for me. The Department of Materials has provided me the chance to access state-of-the-art research facilities, with the professional guidance and support from both academic and technical staff in the department. I have had great opportunities to work alongside brilliant colleagues and collaborators on various exciting projects, publish work in high-impact journals, and with the support of the department and college, present those work in international scientific conferences. All of these experiences have laid a strong foundation for my future academic career. Positioned right beside the beautiful University Park, my departmental office and lab offer a pleasing and comfortable working environment. Other than exploring in the world of science, the department and college have also provided me with a wonderful extracurricular life.’

Grad Admissions Armstrong

Dave Armstrong (DPhil graduate student in 2006, now Associate Professor 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.’

What happens after a DPhil?

A large majority of our DPhil graduates find employment when they finish: an Oxford DPhil is valued by employers across the world. Some of our DPhil graduates enter industrial research, some the business, finance and government sectors, others go into university careers both in the UK and overseas, and still others pursue challenging jobs as, for example, patent agents, or consultants.

Other Information

The Materials Graduate Student Handbook
Training available to members of the MPLSD Graduate School
Summary of Provision for Materials Research Students
A Guide to the Supervision of Research Students

Detailed Guidance and How to Apply

Home, Republic of Ireland, and Islands Applicants 


International Applicants (Includes EU applicants) 

Equality & Diversity

The Department of Materials is a diverse community that is fully committed to promoting equality in all activities, including in post-graduate recruitment. We encourage potential applicants to consider the supportive nature of the working environment that we offer.  Find out more about Equality and Diversity within the Department.

Admissions Criteria

Graduate Admissions Entry Requirements and Selection Criteria for the Department of Materials