Biodegradable polymers: New directions in controlled radical ring-opening polymerisation

This project involves the development of novel biodegradable polymers for applications in biomedicine and materials science.

Start date

1 January 2023


48 months

Application deadline

Funding information

This call is for self-funded students. Funding for exceptional candidates may be available through doctoral college studentships; please enquire.


Accepted candidates will join the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey and work in the Roth research group in the renovated Joseph Kenyon laboratory.

Our group has recently developed a new method to prepare degradable polymers. It involves the addition of a tailor-made thionolactone (a cycle featuring a C=S bond) to a common vinyl polymerization. Importantly, the resulting copolymers carry thioesters in their backbone which can be selectively cleaved. These polymers have unprecedented promise in the development of novel smart materials for biomedical applications (e.g. release of drugs directly to cancer cells, or dissolvable implants that encourage the repair of damaged tissue) but also for the development of next-generation biodegradable plastics. Several PhD projects are available with specific focuses on organic chemistry, polymer synthesis, smart polymers, biomedical applications, and polymer nanoparticles.

The department and university are well-equipped for these studies and candidates will be trained in all relevant methods. PhD students will be mentored in the preparation of manuscripts, posters, and presentations and will be encouraged to use faculty funding to attend (international) conferences. The University of Surrey is a short walk from Guildford town centre which lies within the Surrey Hills Area and is 40 min by train from central London.

This opportunity is available for a July 2022 or October 2022 start.

Related links

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Eligibility criteria

First class or upper second class BSc or Master’s level degree (or international equivalent) in chemistry, biochemistry, or a closely related subject.

This competition is open to all applicants. Please note that higher tuition fees apply for non-UK students. View information about classification of fee status.

Language requirements

For non-native English speakers: An average score of 6.5 with each individual category at least 6.0 in an Academic IELTS test not older than two years.

How to apply

Applications can be made through the Chemistry PhD page. Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on the “research proposal” part of the application.

Applicants should include a copy of their CV with marks of completed academic degrees expressed as “x out of y”, i.e. “60%” or “12/20”. Applicants are encouraged to email Dr Peter Roth ( first to discuss their application.

Chemistry PhD

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Peter Roth
34 AZ 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686396


Research group: Functional Polymer Research Group


Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.