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:

Two PhD positions in Liquid Phase Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy

Publication date:

 In collaboration with EPSRC, JEOL and DENSsolutions, We are setting up the Centre for Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy Imaging. This will be equipped with state-of-the-art electron microscopy facilities to image liquid samples with sub-nanometer spatial resolution and with temporal resolution of milliseconds.
We are looking for two enthusiastic students for the following projects:

Antibacterial Compounds

Publication date:

There is a strong demand to develop new powerful bacteria-killing agents because antibiotic resistance is rising and the existing repertoire of active compounds is dwindling. This PhD project will take advantage of recent research in chemical biology to produce new antibacterial compounds that target and lyse bacterial membrane.

Solar hydrogen generation over rutile/anatase TiO2

Publication date:

A 4 year Eng Doc studentship is available in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science, UCL ( The studentship will commence in September 2016. 

Magnetism and spin-orbit coupling in thin-film topological materials

Publication date:

In this four years EngD studentship project, which will be based in Centre for Doctoral Training Molecular Modelling and Materials Science, UCL, we will combine the thin film growth and structural characterisation expertise of the group of Chris Nicklin (CN) at the Diamond Light Source with the atomic-scale electronic and magnetic characterisation capabilities of the group of Cyrus F. Hirjibehedin (CFH) at UCL to study the properties of bare topological insulators as well as those doped with atomic and molecular magnetic adsorbates.

Adsorption, Self-Assembly, and Magnetism of Molecules at Surfaces

Publication date:

A 4 year EngD studentship is available in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science, UCL ( under supervision of Professor Alex Shluger. The studentship will commence in September 2016.

Publication date:

A 3-year PhD studentship on the competition between static order and excitations in new quantum states

Understanding the Mechanochemical Synthesis of Mixed Oxides using Synchrotron and Neutron Techniques

Publication date:

We are looking to recruit a PhD student for a high-profile EPSRC funded CASE award in partnership with Johnson Matthey Technology Centre. The position will be based at the UK Catalysis Hub, Harwell, Oxfordshire. The UK Catalysis Hub is a new EPSRC initiative aimed at coordinating UK efforts in catalytic science, with the laboratories at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) providing the physical base for this network. This is a unique opportunity to engage with leading UK academics in catalytic science, alongside exposure to the advanced characterisation techniques made possible by the synchrotron and neutron source on the Harwell Campus.

The mechanochemical synthesis of mixed oxides is of interest within Johnson Matthey as a potential new route to the manufacture of materials. The mechanism of the transformation of reagents to active phases under mechanical action will be explored using model and real materials and reference synthesis routes giving an understanding of how key phases are formed and what the key parameters are for synthesis.  

Applicants should have a good honours degree (at least 2.1) or equivalent in Chemistry, or a related discipline. Due to funding restrictions only UK/EU students are eligible to apply. The project will be under the supervision of Dr Peter Wells (, who is the Associate Director of the Harwell component of the UK Catalysis Hub. Although based at Harwell full-time, the student will be registered at University College London and will have access to the excellent postgraduate courses available within the University. 

Synthesis of biocompatible catalytic nanomotors

Publication date:

PhD supervisor: Dr. Tung Chun Lee

Application deadline: 31 July 2016

Search UCL News

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.

Information Request

Please fill in the information below; (*) are required fields.

First Name (*)
Last Name (*)
Address (*)
Postcode (*)
Country (*)
Email (*)
Additional Information