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).

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:

Fully-funded 3 Year PhD Studentship: Hydrogen Production for Clean Energy

Publication date:

Supervisors: Prof. Geoff Thornton (Department of Chemistry and London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, UCL), Prof. Masahiko Tomitori, Dr. Akira Sasahara (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, JAIST)

Molecular scaffolds for determining protein function

Publication date:

Professors Helen Fielding and Helen Hailes

This is a multidisciplinary PhD project employing molecular modelling, chemical synthesis and photoelectron spectroscopy to gain new insight into photoactive protein function.

Polymer synthesis, modelling and electrochemistry for the understanding of electrostatic charging of insulating materials

Publication date:

Dr Katherine B Holt, Dr Hugo Bronstein and Dr Dewi W Lewis

Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD studentship based in the Department of Chemistry, University College London. This multidisciplinary project is focussed on understanding radical formation on polymer surfaces and relating this chemistry to the well-known phenomenon of electrostatic charging that takes place when two materials are rubbed together. 

PhD project in Materials Chemistry at University College London

Publication date:

A PhD position is available in Prof. Paul F. McMillan's group in the Chemistry Department at UCL. The project will focus on the synthesis and properties characterisation of single- to few-layered carbon nitride materials.

Porous complexes for the unambiguous structural determination of non-crystalline compounds - use in protein function determination

Publication date:

Professor Claire Carmalt and Professor Derek Tocher

A 4-year BBSRC Industrial CASE studentship with Novartis is available to investigate the use of crystalline metal organic frameworks (MOFs) as a porous matrix into which compounds in solution can be soaked, allowing the molecular structure determination of non-crystalline complexes via single crystal X-ray diffraction. A technology allowing the precise molecular structure determination of any compound (crystalline or not) in low quantities would be one of the holy grails of chemistry; single crystal X-ray diffraction is the ultimate tool to determine the structure of chemical compounds. It allows the chemist to define the stereochemistry of molecules isolated from natural products greatly reducing the time taken to reproduce or mimic compounds used as molecular probes of protein function. However, well-ordered single crystals of suitable quality for X-ray analysis are required, yet many compounds are either not crystalline or only available in minute quantities. The unambiguous structural determination of compounds not amenable to conventional study would provide identification of unknown compounds quickly and with absolute accuracy, as well as gaining information about the adopted conformation of molecules.

A 3.5 Year Ph.D. Studentship in New Smart Materials for Energy Efficiency

Publication date:

Supervisors: Dr Robert Palgrave (UCL), Prof Ivan Parkin (UCL) and Dr Gregory Goh (IMRE, A*Star)

Applications are invited for 3.5-year PhD studentship in a collaborative programme between UCL Chemistry and A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) of Singapore.

Sustainable Manufacturing of Transparent Conducting Oxide Thin Films

Publication date:

Professor Claire J. Carmalt, Professor Ivan P. Parkin, Professor E. Fraga

Integrating organic Crystal Structure Prediction with Cambridge Structural Database informatics

Publication date:

A 4 year Eng Doc studentship in Engineering Doctorate Centre in Molecular Modelling and Materials Simulation, UCL, www.m3s.ucl.ac.uk starting September 2014.

New Approaches to Direct Amidation Reactions

Publication date:

Dr Tom Sheppard


Applications are invited for PhD studentship commencing in October 2014. The proposed project will be a new collaboration between Dr Sheppard’ group and GlaxoSmithKline and the student will carry out a research placement for a minimum of 3 months at the industrial site at an appropriate stage of the project. The project will involve the development of new and more efficient methods for direct amidation reactions using pharmaceutically relevant compounds (For the importance of amidation reactions in pharmaceutical synthesis, see: Org. Biomol. Chem. 2006, 4, 2337). This project will build upon previous work in the group on boron-mediated amidation reactions (J. Org. Chem. 2013, 78, 4512). The PhD candidate will receive training within a research group and via the PhD training programme.

Phosphoro-Strecker Multicomponent Reaction: Amino Acid Synthesis and Phosphoryl Activation

Publication date:

Dr Matthew W. Powner, Organic and Biological Chemistry (matthew.powner@ucl.ac.uk)

‘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.

Design of Novel Delivery Systems for Airways Administration

Publication date:

A 3.5-year PhD studentship is available in the UCL Chemistry Department to work with Prof Giuseppe Battaglia (www.battagliaresearchgroup.com) on the design of novel delivery systems for airways administration. The project will be in collaboration with an industrial partner.

Scanning Probe Microscopy Studies of a Model Au–Ceria Catalyst

Publication date:

3 Year PhD Studentship: Scanning Probe Microscopy Studies of a Model Au–Ceria Catalyst

Supervisors: Prof. Geoff Thornton (UCL), Prof. Masahiko Tomitori, Dr. Akira Sasahara (JAIST, Japan)

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.

Regeneration of Hydrogen Storage Materials

Publication date:

Title: EPSRC CASE PhD Studentship

Reference: 1373649

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.

Computational Studies of Chemical Bonding in the Actinides

Publication date:

A position is available to study chemical bonding in the actinide series, with particular emphasis on the role of covalency in uranium compounds, using computational quantum chemistry.

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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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