Chemistry PhD

Chemistry PhD

A PhD is a chance to make an original contribution to science as an individual. You will have a chance to learn about the basic principles underlying your science, and put into practice all that theory you learnt as an undergraduate.

The 3-year Chemistry PhD programme is focused on a major piece of original research. You will study under the direct supervision of a member of staff, who is an expert in his or her area of specialisation. 

For more information, please see the tabs below.


Studying for a PhD in Chemistry is one of the most exciting things you will do in your scientific career, as you will have the opportunity to pursue novel research on an individual basis. UCL offers PhD studies in all branches of Chemistry. To find an area of research that interests you, look at the individual academic staff pages. You can also look at the full list of available projects in the available projects tab.

Programme Structure

Most students will start in late September, although studentships become available at other times during the year. 

Students are monitored at regular intervals throughout the period of their PhD. Towards the end of their first year (June) each student writes a short report. The student's second supervisor reads the report and conducts a mini-viva (interview) with the student. This provides the student with valuable insights into how to work towards their thesis, as well as establishing whether the student has the motivation and ability to complete a thesis.

In their second year, all students produce and present a poster outlining the research work already completed. In addition students write a more in-depth report detailing their progress to date. This report is assessed by a small panel who decide whether the students progress is suitable to progress to completion of their PhD.

In the final year, it is hoped that students will be able to design, initiate and pursue their own investigations without extensive supervision. Students are expected to have begun writing their thesis before the end of the third year of study.

A thesis must be submitted four years from the start date of the PhD, and will be examined in a viva voce examination shortly after submission.

Although working for a higher degree involves considerable specialization on the part of the student, it is a policy of the department to ensure that a student's broader chemical background and general transferable skills are developed. In addition to work associated directly with the research project, students are also expected to attend an appropriate set of courses to develop their knowledge and skills based on the UCL Graduate School Research Student Log.

How To Apply

Information on the application procedure is included below.



Eligibility requirements vary depending on the source of funding for the PhD. A large number of PhD studentships in the UCL Chemistry Department are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Countil or Natural Environment Research Council and full details are available on the EPSRCBBSRC and NERC websites.


Candidates should have or expect to gain a 2(i) or first class MSci or MChem degree (or an equivalent qualification), or a 2(i) or first class BSc degree and 12 months relevant experience.

Fees and Funding

Project funding includes a stipend of approximately £15000 (tax free) per annum and covers the University fees at the standard UK rate. EPSRC, BBSRC and NERC funding is only available to home students. 

Funding may also be provided through the European Union, by charitable awards and scholarships or via an industrial sponsor and will be provided at similar rates to those provided via the research councils. 

UCL offers some scholarships for graduate studies, the details of which can be found on the UCL graduate scholarships pages.

Application Procedure

All applicants must apply online.

You will first be required to register and create an account. Once registered please follow on the on-screen instructions.

When searching for the correct programme please select “MPhil/PhD Chemistry”.

Under “Name(s) of Proposed Supervisors” please enter “PhD Programme”

You will need to provide details of your referees as part of the online application. The system will contact your referees using these details. Please note: your application will not be processed until both your referees have submitted their references. You can use the on-line system to check whether your references have been submitted or to send your referees a reminder.

Deadline for Application

Application for PhD studentships can be made at any time of the year. Currently available projects can be found in the Available Projects tab.

Available Projects

PhD vacancies currently available in the department are shown below:

Synthesis of biocompatible catalytic nanomotors

Publication date:

PhD supervisor: Dr. Tung Chun Lee

Application deadline: 31 July 2016

Real-time chemical imaging of promoted Fischer-Tropsch catalysts

Publication date:

Fischer Tropsch (FT) is an important ‘synthetic’ chemical process that uses heterogeneous catalysts based on metallic cobalt or iron active sites to convert syngas to hydrocarbons for the purpose of producing fuel. Whilst it is well known that factors such as the synthesis methodology, the presence of additives or else the pre-treatment process can have a major impact on their performance, the way in which these factors influence this performance is only partially understood. This is primarily due to incomplete characterisation of the samples since the full structure of the catalyst as employed in real conditions is rarely considered when trying to extract meaningful structure activity relationships. This project will therefore investigate, using real-time imaging methods, a variety of structured catalyst samples containing a range of promoters to understand their effect on FT selectivity. For this purpose we will primarily use the recently developed technique of time-resolved X-ray Diffraction Computed Tomography (and variations thereof) so as to study these catalysts under realistic conditions (T, P, space velocity) to yield 2/3-D images with micro-nano spatial resolution allowing for a more thorough understanding of the salient components that lead to an active catalyst. This exciting venture takes advantage of the expertise of the respective groups at UCL (catalyst characterisation) and BP Plc (catalysts development) so as to result in a project in which new, fundamental knowledge can actually be used to improve on a short time-scale, the development of new catalytic materials with enhanced performance.

A 4-year EngD studentship on modelling defects in SiC

Publication date:

A 4-year EngD studentship on modelling defects in SiC

Semiconductor comprised of silicon (Si) and carbon (C). It is widely used for producing microelectronic devices and growing graphene layers. Other applications include car brakes, car clutches and ceramic plates in bulletproof vests. Defects in SiC and its interfaces with SiO2 determine the performance and reliability of microelectronic devices and can be used for quantum computation.

‘Potassium Alkoxides in Transition Metal Free Synthesis and Catalysis’

Publication date:

PhD Project

A PhD position is available working with Dr. J. D. Wilden on the development of organic reactions promoted by group 1 alkoxides.

2 x PhD projects in the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Chemistry Department of University College London

Publication date:

Two PhD positions are available in Prof. Angelos Michaelides’ ICE research group in the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Department of Chemistry. The theoretical/simulation projects are aimed at applying and developing computer simulation approaches to better understand the formation of ice.

Atomic scale imaging and local spectroscopy of CeO2 - Prof Geoff Thornton

Publication date:

PhD Studentship
London Centre for Nanotechnology
University College London
Summary: Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship. The aim of this project is to provide an understanding of the chemical physics of single-crystalline CeO2 in relation to hydrogen production.

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Further Information

Information on all aspects of studying at UCL as a postgraduate can be found on the UCL graduate study page.

For any further information regarding the Chemistry PhD please contact the postgraduate tutor by completing the following form, outlining your request using the Additional Information box.

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