UCL Energy Institute



PhD students at UCL must first register for the MPhil qualification before upgrading to a PhD.

The MPhil/PhD normally extends over 3 years full time, or 5 years part time. You can also register for just an MPhil degree.


The PhD is assessed through a written thesis of no more than 100,000 words. It must:

  • demonstrate the candidate's capacity to pursue original research in the field of study
  • represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject, whether through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views
  • show the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both the candidate's own work and that of other scholars in the field.


The MPhil is assessed by a written thesis of no more than 60,000 words.

It must represent a contribution to the subject either through a record of the candidate's original work or a critical and ordered exposition of existing knowledge.

A typical timetable for a full-time PhD student: 


Research themes

Most energy problems are multidisciplinary in nature, spanning science, engineering and the social sciences. Our research works to develop a range of tools, models and methods to address the energy challenges facing the world over the next two decades. 

Choosing a suitable research topic is a crucial decision that will be influenced by:

  • your interests and capabilities
  • the availability of appropriate supervisors (and other support)
  • the relevance, significance and originality of the topic within the field and its suitability to form the basis of a feasible doctoral research programme

It’s up to you to identify an appropriate topic to research, although you’re encouraged to do so in consultation with potential supervisors.

Your research proposal will be crucial to the decision on your application, as it demonstrates your ability to identify and articulate an independent line of research inquiry.

In 1,000 to 2,000 words, you should explain:

  • the subject of your proposed research
  • the questions you hope to answer
  • why you think this knowledge will be of value
  • your intended method
  • the sources you’ll use

You should also show that you have the ability and experience to carry out the research, and are familiar with the literature and appropriate methods of research.