What we are researching
We are undertaking groundbreaking research tackling real world challenges such as disease diagnosis and weather forecasting. The topic of a PhD dissertation may be chosen from a wide range of research topics within the Department:
Dynamical Systems and Partial Differential Equations Group
- Quasiconvexity, elasticity and the calculus of variations
- Interaction of patterns
- Qualitative analysis of dissipative partial differential equations
- Pinning, capture and release of fronts by localised inhomogeneities
- Positivity of solutions to dissipative fourth-order PDEs
- Hamiltonian systems with symmetry
- Time semi-discretizations of semilinear PDEs.
Fields, Strings and Geometry Group
Fluids, Meteorology and Symmetry Group
Mathematics of Life and Social Sciences Group
You will work as part of a vibrant and supportive community of early career researchers who collaborate and exchange ideas with each other and the wider mathematical community. You will be extensively trained for a career as a professional mathematician, which will set you on the right track for a future in academia, industry or government.
You will work closely with one or two supervisors, who you will meet with on a frequent basis, to discuss your research and your career development and they will oversee your progress and offer advice throughout your PhD studies.
Many of our research projects are funded by large-scale grants from the public and private sectors including:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- London Mathematical Society
- Leverhulme Trust
- Science and Technology Facilities Council
- European Union
- Natural Environment Research Council
- Met Office.
Mathematics, fluids, meteorology and symmetry
Funding information:Competitive departmental funding.
Mathematics of life and social sciences
Funding information:Competitive departmental funding
Mathematics, fields, strings and geometry
Funding information:Competitive departmental funding.
Your PhD journey
Being a PhD student is a full-time occupation and you will spend the majority of each working day undertaking your research or engaging in training. PhD students are professional Early Career Researchers and as a PhD student, you will be fully engaged with the research culture in our Department.
The following sketches a typical journey for a PhD student at Surrey and highlights some key landmarks on route. The time scales apply to full-time PhD students. Those who are part-time should adjust these times as appropriate.
During your the few months of your PhD you will enrol and attend a series of induction events organised by us and the wider university, including a welcome to your PhD workshop. In your first week you will also meet with supervisor/s and agree an initial work schedule. They will normally suggest a series of research articles for you to read, ideas to work on, and you will begin to think about research questions that you hope to answer during the PhD.
During your PhD you must complete 100 hours of taught courses, including assessment, to broaden your mathematical knowledge. The majority of these hours will be done in the first year with the remainder in year two. These taught courses are a combination of MAGIC taught courses, courses from the London Taught Course Centre, courses from the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics or departmental master’s level courses.
Training will also come by attending department research seminars which are aimed at both staff and PhD students. On average, you will be attending approximately one or two research seminars a week.
Other year one activities include:
- Meeting regularly with your supervisor/s (usually about once a week) and undertaking your research as required
- Producing a review of the current literature
- Completing bi-annual reviews at six and 12 months
- Attending the Surrey Postgraduate Conference
- Identify and attend appropriate workshops or conferences such as the British Applied Mathematics Colloquium (BAMC) or the British Mathematics Colloquium (BMC). It is not expected that you present your work at this time, but it is an opportunity to network with other PhD students and academics
- Undertaking a few hours of supporting undergraduate teaching to enhance your transferable skills. This is not compulsory, but many PhD students appreciate the opportunity to get involved in the teaching in the Department.
In year two you should find that your research begins to advance more rapidly, and you begin to take ownership of your PhD. Training will still occur via regular supervisory meetings and regular attendance of department research seminars, but you will begin to formulate your own ideas and begin to `train’ your supervisor/s on your research topic.
An important landmark in year two for all PhD students is that they have to complete a confirmation report, and pass an internal viva examination. The postgraduate Skills Development Programme runs a confirmation workshop to help you prepare for both aspects of this process. Confirmation has to occur before 15 months and consists of a report of approximately 30-40 pages which demonstrates that you have reached an appropriate level and that you are expected to be able to produce a final PhD thesis. The confirmation report is often expanded into one or two draft thesis chapters. In the unlikely event of a failure at this stage students are encouraged to complete an MPhil qualification.
Other year two activities include:
- Giving a presentation in your research group seminar series
- Produce a research poster for display in the Department
- Present a talk or a poster at the Surrey Postgraduate Conference
- Present a talk or poster at a national conference such as the BAMC, BMC or an international specialist conference and network with other PhD students and academics
- Aim to produce at least one research publication (note this is an aim and depends upon the progress of your research). Usually this is also associated with a further chapter in your thesis
- Complete bi-annual reviews at 18 and 24 months
- Finish the compulsory 100 hours of broadening mathematical training
- Use this opportunity to get involved in public engagement or take some further courses from the Research Development Programme
- Discuss future career path with supervisor/s and/or Careers Centre
- Undertake a few hours of undergraduate teaching.
The final one or two years of your PhD is focused on advancing your research and completing your PhD thesis. This can be a challenging aspect of the PhD and as such regular meetings with your supervisor/s are paramount in helping you to stay on top of the writing. Your supervisor/s will give feedback on your draft thesis chapters to help you to critically reflect on the research you have undertaken.
Within one to three months of submitting your thesis you will undertake a viva examination in which you will be examined on your thesis.
Other year three and four activities include:
- Continue to attend department research seminars
- Aim to produce at least one more research publication
- Complete the extended bi-annual review at 30 months, which includes a timeline for the completion of your thesis, and continue with reviews every six months after this
- Present a talk or poster at an international conference and network with other PhD students and academics
- Discuss your next careers steps with your supervisor, the Careers Office and other people. Our network of industrial and academic contacts might be useful in this
- Undertake a few hours of undergraduate teaching
- Attend the Viva Preparation workshop
- Submit your thesis within four years
- Give a pre-viva presentation
- Celebrate the completion of your PhD.
Most PhD funding is for three years (sometimes extensions for a few more months can be obtained). However, it is possible to go beyond this date on an unfunded basis, but all PhDs must be submitted before the end of four years. Extensions beyond four years will only be given by the University in exceptional circumstances.
What our students say
Read our student profiles to discover first-hand what it's like to study with us.