UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute


CDT and Skills Hub

UCLQ hosts the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Delivering Quantum Technologies.

CDT and Skills Hub

EPSRC CDT’s are funded on a five-year cycle, and in common with all current EPSRC-funded CDTs, our final cohort was admitted in Autumn 2018. We have applied for funding for a new Centre with students entering the programme from 2019-2024. We will learn the outcome of this application in early 2019. If this application is successful, applications for 2019 entry will be opened shortly afterwards.

UCL's CDT in quantum technologies, together with the £3.5m skills hub award, allows UCLQ to address the supply of people to the emerging quantum technologies industry, including significant expansion of its postgraduate training and research programme in quantum technologies. A total of at least 15 funded research studentships in quantum technologies will be available each year, with an increased provision for students whose research interests focus on targeted engineering of quantum technologies.

Students in the programme will take a broadly based training year before undertaking a PhD research project in one of the centre’s research groups; some of the Skills Hub students will take their PhD projects elsewhere in the national Quantum Technologies programme, including the four Quantum Technology Hubs. All students will also be trained in entrepreneurship, outreach and scientific communication.

As breakthroughs in quantum technologies begin to move out of the lab and into industrial applications, these students will be uniquely placed to benefit. Staff at UCL have strong links with enterprise and industry, giving students a short-cut directly into the heart of business. UCL’s location in central London means unparalleled access to partner institutions around the world, from multinational companies to top universities, as well as to UCL’s own world-class laboratory facilities.

About the CDT

Research and Training

About the Doctoral Training Programme
Summary of the CDT Programme

Quantum technologies involve the control and manipulation of quantum states to achieve results not possible with classical matter; they promise a transformation of measurement, communication and computation.

The highly-skilled researchers who will be the future leaders in this field must be equipped to function in a complex research and engineering landscape where quantum physics meets cryptography, complexity and information theory, devices, materials, software and hardware engineering. UCL’s Doctoral Programme in Delivering Quantum Technologies brings together a team of almost forty academic experts with key players from commerce and government and a network of international partner institutes to train those research leaders.


What will my path through the centre look like?

Timeline of the CDT
This diagram summarises the key elements of the 4-year program.

The first year will be spent in high-level professional training, covering the research skills needed for future quantum technologies from fundamental physics to information sciences and device engineering. It also includes a group project and a longer individual project performed in one of the centre’s research groups. This training year leads to the award of the Master of Research (MRes) degree. Students who are successful in the MRes will then move on to a three-year research project with one of the centre’s research groups, leading to the award of a PhD.

What are the advantages of research training in the centre?

First, the training year provides a broad background in all the disciplines relevant for quantum technologies. We find that very few students emerge from their undergraduate study with this background, and those entering the field of quantum technologies often have to shop around to assemble the research skills they need; the MRes year is designed to provide all of these up-front.

Second, your choice of PhD research project is not made until you have had a chance to learn more about the field and see individual groups and supervisors in action; you don’t have to make a decision based on very limited information at the point you start the programme.

Finally, because you will be trained as part of a cohort of students you will have a supportive network of colleagues around you to help you through the highs and lows of starting out in your research career.

Who are the partner organisations and what are their roles?

The scientific partners of the centre are commercial and government laboratories with strong interests in quantum technologies:

Industry partners of the CDT

DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)
D-Wave Systems
Hitachi Cambridge Research Laboratory
Lockheed Martin
NPL (National Physical Laboratory)
Toshiba Research Europe

They will contribute to the general training and also collaborate with UCL supervisors and CDT students on particular research projects.

There are two further partners who have joined the centre specifically to provide training in particular aspects. We believe that skills in entrepreneurship and in scientific writing will be essential for future quantum technologists, and that those skills are best learned from the experts.

Publishing partners of the CDT

DFJ Esprit Venture Capital
Nature Publishing Group

Finally we have a network of international partners, with whom the centre will exchange students working in areas of common interest:

Academic Partners

IQC Waterloo, Canada
CQT Singapore
CQC2T Sydney, Australia
QuPa Paris, France
QSIT Switzerland

How big is the centre?

We aim to admit up to fifteen students per year. There is a pool of around forty potential supervisors at UCL, with additional supervisors in the partner laboratories.

What funding is available?

UCL’s fees will be fully paid, at the rate applicable to UK/EU students, and additionally a stipend will be paid at the standard UCL rate (currently ~£16,300 per annum) to cover living costs. Funding is initially offered for one year and will be extended for a further three years (i.e. to a total of four years) for students who progress to the research component of the programme.

A limited number of funded places are available for non-EU candidates which will additionally cover the higher fees charged for those students.

We can also consider applications to join the CDT from students who already have funding from other sources, e.g. from external graduate scholarships.

In addition the centre has funding for student conference travel, for placements with partner organizations, and for research expenses.

Who will be directing the centre?

Dr. Dan Browne, (Physics and Astronomy) is the director of the CDT. He is assisted by co-directors, Prof. Sougato Bose (Physics and Astronomy), Dr. Mark Buitelaar (LCN), Prof. John Morton (LCN / Electrical Engineering), Prof. Paul Warburton (LCN / Electrical Engineering).

Research and Training

What will the first year of training be like?

We are expecting applicants with a range of backgrounds relevant to quantum technologies, so you will not all be experts in the same things. The first two weeks will be spent getting everyone to a level in physics, information sciences and device principles where they can all benefit from the rest of the course.

Outline of lectures in the first year
What kind of transferable skills will I learn?

Things that will stand you in good stead for a life in research: things like time management, how to write and present well for a range of audiences, programming and good lab practice. Everyone – even those who think of themselves as theorists – will be conducting some basic experiments. You will also benefit from a bespoke training by the UCL public engagement unit and the opportunity to perform in public events such as UCL’s renowned ‘Bright Club’ stand-up series, which regularly sells out venues in the Bloomsbury area.

What will I Need to do to progress in the research part of the training?

It will be up to you to propose your own research project to the Doctoral Programme. Towards the end of the training year potential supervisors from UCL and the partner organizations will pitch possible research topics to you. It will be up to you to select a supervisor and with him/her work up a research proposal, which you will need to present to us in order to convince us that the project is sound, viable and within the remit of the Centre. If we think there are problems with your proposal we will work with you to improve it, and if necessary help you to identify a different topic.

What research topics will be available?

This will depend on what the supervisors suggest in a given year, and also on the particular interests expressed by the students. The topics can be expected to span the full range of interests of the UCL quantum community. Some examples of topics we would pitch to you if the exercise were going on now can be found here; please bear in mind that these are just a few examples, and don’t reflect the full range of work in the consortium. If you think you know already that you are interested in the work of a particular group or a particular supervisor, feel free to contact them to find out what topics they might pitch.

What is the range of potential research supervisors?

The primary supervisor could be any of the academic staff within the broad UCL quantum community or partners in the UK National Quantum Technologies programme. Projects supervised and co-supervised by partners within the UK National Quantum Technologies programme may be hosted at the partner, UCL or both. Students will be registered at the university where they will spend the majority of their time. You will graduate with a PhD (or DPhil at certain universities, such as Oxford and Sussex) from the university at which you are registered.

Do I need to choose a potential supervisor when I apply?

No. Research projects and supervisors are selected only after the initial training year. Your initial application is for a place on the MRes programme, not to work with a particular research supervisor.