Advanced Technology Institute PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start date:
July 2023

Why choose this programme

The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) is one of the University’s world-leading research centres. As a PhD student, you’ll work alongside other ATI researchers in the areas of quantum information, nanotechnology, energy, microwave engineering and advanced materials. 

The ATI houses 160 researchers, including engineers, physicists, materials scientists, biologists and chemists. Approximately half of these are PhD students, allowing you to pursue truly multidisciplinary research. 

It’s likely you’ll also have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists around the world, which will enhance your international outlook. As part of the larger Faculty Graduate School community, you’ll receive the training you need to become a fully fledged researcher, and drive the next generation of technology and innovation. 

You’ll have access to ATI’s extensive facilities and equipment, which has benefitted from more than £40million of investment, to fabricate, characterise, analyse and simulate. This means you can push the frontiers of physics and engineering, while also working closely with local, national and international companies. 

Additionally, you’ll be able to join the most appropriate professional institution based on your degree. This is nominally the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and/or the Institute of Physics (IOP) as an Associate Member, and you’ll be entitled to apply for full membership after three years of postgraduate studies.  

The University of Surrey ranked 15th in the UK for research power for engineering by the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. We are now also ranked in the top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs – research papers and other published works.

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

Your research will sit in one of the ATI’s four research groups: NanoelectronicsPhotonicsIon Beams, and Theory and Computation. These are united by cross-cutting themes, such as science and technology on the nanoscale, technological applications of quantum science and engineering, and conversion of energy. 

Your proposal for a new PhD topic will be examined with a holistic view on the field and its technical content, the excellence in the proposed research, its potential to provide new and fundamental insight to technical problems, and the ability of the Institute to be able to provide the best environment to facilitate the research. 

You’ll be registered for a maximum four-year period of full-time study. After 12 months, you’ll write a Confirmation Report, which will be assessed by independent examiners. A detailed evaluation of progress and future research plans will be made every six months to ensure that progress towards completion of the PhD remains satisfactory. 

A PhD normally lasts for three and a half years. During this time, you’ll be supported by two academics, who you’ll meet with on a regular basis. Postdoctoral researchers in the group also help with project steering, especially when the PhD work is part of a multinational or industry-focused programme. 

The location of your research will depend on the needs of your project. You’ll be allocated office space in the ATI building, typically alongside researchers with related research interests. Depending on the specifics of your project, your time will be spent differently around the facility. Modelling projects are predominantly computer-based, while experimental ones involve work in the Clean Room and an assortment of labs. Like many PhD projects, yours may be collaborative and require travel for meetings with associates and to access specialised facilities. 

You’ll submit a written PhD thesis after a minimum three years of full-time study, which will be examined in a viva by a combination of external and internal examiners, selected for their knowledge of the research field. The criteria for award of a PhD are the description of research whose content, rigour, originality and relevance are sufficient for publication in peer-reviewed journals. 


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Research themes

  • Photonics 
  • Quantum science and technology 
  • Nanomaterials 
  • Nanoscience and nanotechnology 
  • Advanced energy materials 
  • Flexible and printed electronics 
  • Sensors and smart environments 
  • Ion beams 
  • RF and microwave devices 
  • Micro and nanofabrication 
  • Microscopy and surface science 
  • Modelling and simulation 
  • Semiconductor devices 
  • Renewable energy systems 

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Advanced Technology Institute.

Research facilities

Nanoelectronics Centre

Including dedicated laboratories for plasma, energy and printed electronics all supported by a dedicated Clean Room. 

Ion Beam Centre

The Nanofabrication Laboratory contains two electron microscopes and a dual-beam electron/ion microscope. 

Hydrostatic Pressure Laboratory

The Hydrostatic Pressure Laboratory is used to vary the lattice constant of crystals in a controlled manner, mimicking the effect of changing composition. 

Laser Laboratories

Including pulsed lasers for material deposition, patterning and characterisation of materials. 

Multiphysics characterisation

For thermal, electromagnetic and device characterisation for microwave transistors. 

Extensive computational facilities

For electronic, quantum and photonic device simulations. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Start date: July 2023



For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

More information on the application process.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2022/2023 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions

Contact Admissions Team


University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH