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:

Modelling the structures, stabilities, properties and chemistry of nitrocellulose

Publication date:

A 3-year PhD studentship is available in the UCL Chemistry Department to work with Professor Nora de Leeuw and project partners AWE on a computer simulation project to gain atomic-level insight into the physico-chemical properties of the complex energetic polymer nitrocellulose. The project will focus in particular on the chemical reactions involved in the initial polymerisation of the monomeric structure, the (partial) nitration of the cellulose, and the degradation processes. The project will require the application of both electronic structure techniques and classical molecular dynamics simulations to model the reaction pathways and mechanisms as well as the 3-dimensional material.

Reactions of H, O, N atoms with molecules on astrochemically relevant surfaces

Publication date:

PhD Studentship in Laboratory Astrochemistry at UCL

A fully-funded STFC PhD studentship in Laboratory Astrochemistry is available at UCL in the group of Professor Stephen Price. The proposal was funded as part of a successful consortium proposal in Laboratory Astrochemistry with the University of Sussex (Professor Wendy Brown) and Heriot-Watt University (Professor Martin McCoustra).

PhD in Material Nanoscience at University College London

Publication date:

PhD in Material Nanoscience at University College London

 A fully funded PhD studentship is available within the UCL Department of Chemistry to work under the supervision of Dr. Giorgio Volpe and Prof. Ivan Parkin on the experimental study of evaporation processes of biologically active liquids on novel materials with controllable wetting properties and performances. This project is fundamentally relevant for the design of novel materials for many biological, medical and technological applications.

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.

A 3.5-year PhD Studentship in modelling the effect of pathogenic mutations on the behaviour of regulatory domains

Publication date:

Supervisors: Professor Francesco Gervasio (UCL), Prof. Marius Sudol (NUS and ASTAR, Singapore)

A 4-year EngD studentship in Synthesis and Surface Characterisations of Novel 2D Layered Materials

Publication date:

Supervisor: Professor Z. Xiao Guo Department of Chemistry, UCL

A 4-year EngD studentship is available within the Centre for Doctoral training in Molecular Modelling and Materials Simulation, UCL to work with Professor Z. Xiao Guo on synthesis and surface characterisations of novel 2D layered materials. The studentship is co-sponsored by Keysight Technologies UK Ltd. The start date is September 2015.

A 3.5-year PhD studentship in Low-Dimensional Nanostructures for Energy Storage

Publication date:

Supervisors: Professor Z. Xiao Guo (UCL, UK) and Dr. Yun Zong (ASTAR IMRE, Singapore)

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year PhD studentship offered jointly by the M3S CDT in the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, UCL and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. The studentship will commence in September 2015.

A 3.5-year PhD Studentship in Self-assemble Multifunctional Nanomotors for Intelligent Active Delivery of Drugs

Publication date:

Supervisors: Dr. Tung Chun Lee Department of Chemistry, UCL, Dr. Xian Jun Loh (A*STAR IMRE, Singapore)

A 3-year PhD Studentship in Statistical Regularisation

Publication date:

Start Date: September 2015

Applications are invited for a PhD funding opportunity offered jointly by the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, UCL and the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST). The studentship will commence in September 2015 and is based both at JAIST and the UCL Department of Statistical Science.

Selective side-chain activation in native peptides and proteins

Publication date:

23 January 2015

PhD Project

A PhD position is available working with Dr. D. Macmillan in the area of site-selective peptide side-chain activation.

Modelling Drug-resistance mutations and patient specific drug treatment for anti-cancer targets

Publication date:

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for this three-year EPSRC funded position. The PhD studentship will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL, supervised by Professor Peter Coveney from the Centre for Computational Science, and co-supervised by Prof Francesco Gervasio from the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology.

The emergence of drug resistance is a major problem in developing targeted therapies for cancer as we move toward the era of personalised medicine. The main goal of our research is to use state-of-the-art modelling and simulation to understand the effect of drug-resistance caused by mutations at the molecular level in protein kinases, a protein family involved in cancer onset and progression. The in-depth knowledge acquired by the student will be used to help developing better kinase inhibitors and patient specific anti-cancer treatments. The groups of Prof Coveney and Prof Gervasio specialize in the development and application of atomistic molecular dynamics simulations and free energy calculations to bio-molecular systems. Our work will be facilitated by access we have to supercomputers within UK, throughout Europe and USA, providing the student with experience of distributed, high performance computating.

This is a very exciting opportunity for a student with a strong chemistry, bio-physics, physics, engineering or computer science background to tackle the complexity arising in this fascinating area of biology and biomedicine. The minimum requirement is a first class or upper second class honours degree (MSci, MEng) or equivalent. Prior experience of experimental biology is not necessary.

Applications, including a full and up to date CV, together with the names and addresses (email and physical) of two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Prof P V Coveney, email to whom informal inquiries may also be made.

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Wednesday December 10th. Only UK resident students are eligible to apply.

‘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.

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.

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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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