skip to primary navigationskip to content

CDT Research Themes in Cambridge

The EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Cambridge are:

In the School of Physical Sciences:

  • Computational Methods for Materials Science
    The EPSRC CDT in Computational Methods for Materials Science delivers comprehensive training in both scientific programming and the underlying theoretical techniques to enable students to develop new software tools to tackle the next generation of challenges in materials design and optimisation. The first year comprises an MPhil in Scientific Computing, consisting of taught courses, written assignments and a research project, followed by a three year PhD in one of the partner Departments (listed on our website). There is a strong emphasis on industrially-related research, with nearly half of the available studentships linked to partner companies, together with master classes and seminars delivered by leading academics and industrialists associated with CDT. Transferable skills training, entrepreneurship and cohort-building exercises are incorporated throughout the four-year programme.

    Students usually follow one of three streams within the CDT: (i) atomistic modelling (including classical, statistical and quantum mechanical methods), (ii) machine learning (including neural networks and statistical sampling techniques) and (iii) continuum modelling (including numerical analysis and methods for solving ordinary and partial differential equations). A bespoke training programme is organized at the beginning of the first year, in consultation with Directors of Studies, to prepare students for their research project. The vision of the CDT is to create a large cohort of highly skilled computational scientists who will drive forward the existing strength of UK physical science to support and strengthen industry, creating new business opportunities over the next decade, and who will develop software codes that achieve transformational impact in both academic and economic terms.


  • Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
    Name:  EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC)

    Structure:  The PhD programme is based on courses, practicals and projects in Year 1 before selection of an interdisciplinary PhD topic for research in Years 2-4 in a Nano group within Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Materials or another department. A significant element will be the ETECH Projects component provided through the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the Judge Business School.

    Key Features: Design your own PhD with bespoke training and workshops across different disciplines, industrial interactions and collaborative research.



  • Cambridge Centre for Analysis

    The Cambridge Centre for Analysis (CCA) offers a four-year PhD in Mathematics, in an area of Analysis or it's Applications. The scope includes Partial Differential Equations, Geometric Analysis, Probability, Computational Analysis, High-Dimensional or Non-Parametric Statistics and Mathematics of Information. The CCA PhD follows EPSRC's cohort-based training model. A unique first year programme offers wide-ranging training in Analysis, emphasising teamwork and offering opportunities to work on two research projects, one supervised in the Faculty of Mathematics, the other by a user of mathematics in another department of the University or in industry. 

    Further information about this programme is available from the University Graduate Prospectus [] and the CCA website [].


In the School of Technology:

  • Future Infrastructure and Built Environment

    The doctoral training programme at the CDT FIBE is an integrated 4-year programme with a 1-year MRes (Masters) course followed by a 3-year PhD. Entry can either be direct to the academic programme or via the I+ scheme which provides a 1-year placement with an industry partner before starting the MRes.

    The first year of the programme is the broad cohort-based MRes course, which covers core Civil Engineering topics, related disciplines, and training in research and commercial skills. Students develop their transferable, professional practice and entrepreneurial skills through participation in relevant training sessions. Desktop study projects, group projects, and individual mini-projects provide opportunities to develop engineers who will lead major infrastructure and research projects. An important component of the MRes year is exposure to entrepreneurship and business course through the Cambridge Judge Business School that lead to a group project on a real business study with an industry partner. The subsequent specialist PhD training programme embraces topics ranging from future energy infrastructure to sustainable urbanisation and innovative construction materials. Research in core areas of Civil Engineering forms the major part of the three-year PhD study. Students are expected to publish high-quality journal papers and to present their work at international conferences.


  • Gas Turbine Aerodynamics
    The CDT in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics is an exciting partnership that brings together internationally-recognised universities and global industry partners to create a unique consortium for turbomachinery training and research. The training programme involves the Whittle Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, the Osney Laboratory at the University of Oxford and the Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering Department at Loughborough University. These three universities have been specifically chosen because of their track record of research excellence in the aerodynamics of the three major components of a gas turbine (compressor, combustor and turbine). The CDT has further assembled a group of companies which span the entire gas turbine products range including Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens UK and Dyson.

    The CDT in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics follows a "1+3" model. In year one, all students study for a University of Cambridge MRes degree in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics. However, while students are based in Cambridge, the MRes also makes full use of the unique partnership between academia and industry that is at the heart of the CDT. The MRes provides a springboard to the PhD phase in years two-to-four, where students undertake industrially-focussed PhD projects at one of the three partner universities. Each university provides an internationally recognised environment for turbomachinery research, but CDT students also benefit from the network of experts, and the portfolio of skills, that they have built up during the MRes phase.


  • Graphene Technology
    The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Graphene Technology aims to deliver a high-quality, student-centred, cohort approach to research training, focussed on the student experience. We wish to build a world-class cohort of young scientists who can become the next generation of high-tech entrepreneurs and technology leaders.

    In the first year, students will undertake a structured programme consisting of: (a) taught courses covering the science and technology of graphene, related layered materials and hybrid systems, as well as flexible and printable (opto)electronics, antennas and communications, energy storage and delivery; (b) laboratory sessions that are designed to provide training in a range of experimental skills such as lithography, printing, vacuum processing, solution processing, device testing and materials characterisation; (c) technical projects in two different research areas. Potential supervisors from Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Engineering; (d) enterprise skills, industrial experience in the partner companies, public engagement activities in schools or exhibitions, and periods of time spent in academic collaborator laboratories will be encouraged (and given the breath of worldwide collaborations having Cambridge at the core, the students will have the widest possible selection). At the end of this first year, assuming a suitable level of attainment, students will be granted an MRes degree and commence onto a PhD project chosen from a wide variety of projects.


  • Sensor Technologies and Application

    The CDT in Sensor Technologies and Applications covers the whole range of sensor research from developing advanced sensor devices to employing sensors in new applications. Teaching and research in the Sensor CDT spans across 20 departments in Cambridge University, covering engineering and technology, physical and biological sciences and medicine.

    The Sensor CDT is open to students from engineering, natural science and medicine with an interest in sensing and an aptitude for interdisciplinary sensor research. During the MRes year students attend lectures and practicals in the associated departments and carry out a number of projects of increasing complexity, culminating in the Sensor Team Challenge where the students work as a team on an industry relevant topic.

  • Ultra Precision
    The CDT in Ultra Precision offers a four year programme, with a one year taught Masters course at either Cranfield or Cambridge followed, assuming a suitable level of attainment in the Masters, by a three year PhD research programme at either institution, or another UK university through the National Centre Programme of the EPSRC Centre in Ultra Precision.

    The 11 month masters programme is designed to give a balance between taught courses, lab sessions and research projects to allow students to develop a range of skills. Upon successful completion of the masters component of the course, the students begin their PhD from a wide variety of topics including laser-based precision additive manufacturing, device fabrication, laser processing, focused ion beam machining, carbon nanotube processing, and liquid crystal display development among others. Many of these projects are supported by industry allowing the students to gain business experience and receive a stipend top up of up to £6.5k per year.


CDTs led by other institutions, in which Cambridge is a partner:

  • Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems (with University College London; MRes + PhD at either Cambridge or UCL; Cambridge contact = Prof R Penty)

    Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems UCL-Cambridge Centre for Doctoral Training offers a four year programme in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems which combines a one year Master of Research (MRes) followed by a three year doctorate (PhD). The one-year MRes course allows students time to absorb the context of photonics research and to learn tools and methods that can support powerful, influential research. Students will spend the first year of the programme being trained in a broad range of enabling skills at both Cambridge and UCL, which will equip them to become leading edge researchers in the field. A Master's degree will be awarded on completion of the first year programme. Students will then register at either Cambridge or UCL for a PhD degree, working on projects defined by research groups active in photonics from across both universities.

    The first year MRes programme is taught jointly and has modules delivered at both UCL and Cambridge, with the participation of industry. This will provide understanding of the applications, systems and business drivers as well as the underpinning scientific and engineering material required for photonic systems research at the highest level. The course includes mini-projects at both institutions in contrasting areas of photonics. The Masters programme comprises a bespoke set of graduate-level courses from UCL and Cambridge and allows a high level of flexibility in its structure, with the involvement of departments across both partner universities.

    The aim of PhD programme is to facilitate high quality PhD research and in doing so provide a platform for a new generation of multi-disciplinary thinkers and innovators. PhD research project proposals are developed in collaboration with industry, through a competitive bidding process involving all departments, institutes and centres associated with the Centre. Selection of PhD research projects takes place toward the end of the first year of the course. Participation in relevant technical courses, road mapping and business electives takes place throughout the PhD training.  There are opportunities to collaborate with external partners and to align the research with larger multi-disciplinary consortium projects with which the groups are involved. This will offer an immediate audience for one’s research and improve the prospects for publishing and employment. This applied research is agreed between the student and the Centre. Contact is maintained between the student and their supervisor, flexible to their needs and progress. The PhD in Photonics enables students to gain the skills required for jobs in the rapidly expanding photonics industry. The course provides unrivalled contacts, with access to top photonics industry professionals and the best academic and career development resources.



  • Nuclear Energy (with Imperial College and the Open University; MRes in first year at Imperial + PhD in one of the partner universities; Cambridge contact = Dr I Farnan)

    The ICO CDT is a collaboration between Imperial College in London, University of Cambridge and the Open University (ICO) for doctoral training in nuclear energy that will provide students with a world-class background in nuclear technology with funding from EPSRC and industrial partners.

    Nuclear Energy is an exciting field which needs a new generation of future leaders. Our CDT programme will provides a firm footing in the industry, with a solid academic training programme, as well as providing new innovation and research new technologies to maintain capability, explore new opportunities for growth and expansion of the global nuclear landscape.

    For more information go to

Studentships available for doctoral training at Cambridge for entry in October 2017

Read more

Information about EPSRC's studentship programmes

Read more

Other Research Councils

Explore other Research Councils' studentships available in Cambridge

NERC Doctoral Training Partnership: Earth Systems Science

ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training

University of Cambridge doctoral training portal - your way into information on the range of doctoral training opportunities funded by the Research Councils and Wellcome Trust at the University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions office (general information about applying to Cambridge)