Chemical and Process Engineering Research PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates:
April 2024
July 2024
October 2024
January 2025

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates:
April 2024
July 2024
October 2024
January 2025

Why choose this programme

With the oldest continuing chemical engineering programme in England, our School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is highly respected and our academics possess a wealth of experience and expertise in the subject.

Our interdisciplinary research work involves activities with cross-cutting themes, investigating materials and devices with the Advanced Technology Institute while addressing challenges in information technology.

The Centre for Advanced Process Intensification offers a research platform for sustainable manufacturing, leading to the development of new and improved concepts of processing methods, and equipment for chemical and energy conversion systems.

Research in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is highly multidisciplinary and we enjoy excellent collaborations with materials science, the Ion Beam Centre, the Surrey Space Centre, the Centre for Environment and Sustainability and the 5G/6G Innovation Centre, as well as access to their facilities.

You’ll benefit from comprehensive training and transferable skills development offered through the Doctoral College, which serves to support your future career and create a friendly social environment. You’ll have opportunities to present and exchange your research, as well as socialise and network at various events and forums. We have an excellent graduate employability record: 100 per cent of our chemical and process engineering postgraduate research students go on to employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2023, HESA).

The University’s strengths in chemical engineering include membrane filtration and ultrasound processing. Key members in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering have extensive expertise in these areas and strong industry links, with projects looking into the implementation of water processing technology.

The University of Surrey ranks 4th in the UK and 16th in the world for petroleum engineering in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, we rank 15th in the UK for research power for engineering and 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

On this PhD, you’ll have the opportunity to investigate topics ranging from fuel cell systems, biorefining and reverse osmosis to positron emission particle tracking.

You’ll go through a confirmation process in which you’ll produce a report to demonstrate your understanding of the research field and your project results. Your ability to carry out critical literature reviews, demonstrate scientific writing skills, and research and produce meaningful results will be evaluated by your supervisor and two examiners. Once you’ve passed the confirmation stage, your PhD research project can begin.

At the end of the second year, you’ll submit a scientific manuscript draft containing your most important results, as well as a solid plan for writing your PhD thesis.

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering offers a dynamic and friendly environment for research. You’ll be provided with the necessary support to carry out your research projects and have access to expertise and facilities across the University, and externally when necessary.

There will be a review with your supervisors every six months to discuss progress, research directions, challenges and any necessary support.

Depending on the nature of your project, you’ll work in labs, offices and/or in external institutions if your project involves collaborations of this kind.

Assessment

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

There are five main research themes:

  • Energy and materials
  • Formulations and products
  • Health and food
  • Digital and process innovation
  • Water processing technology.

Within these themes, our research looks at:

  • Development and modelling of novel nanomaterials for solid oxide fuel cells, electrolysers, batteries and super-capacitors
  • New generation of solar cells and membranes technology, custom-made catalysts for environmental and photocatalytic applications
  • Biorefining, design and optimisation of the bioenergy supply chain
  • Particulate materials manufacturing for pharmaceutical, food and minerals industry
  • Multiphase flow, process modelling and optimisation using coupled DEM-CFD and FEM
  • Particle mechanical property characterisation, powder flow and compaction, granulation and mechanistic modelling
  • In vitro and in silico models for biological systems at molecular, cellular and organ levels
  • Computation oncology and modelling radiotherapy
  • Oral processes of food and pharmaceutical products
  • Product structure and properties interplay with bio-substrate response
  • Industrial symbiosis, optimisation and decision-making
  • Whole systems hierarchical modelling based on massive spatial-temporal data and time points
  • Innovative waste-water processing and recycling, including forward osmosis
  • Use of ultrasonics to promote chemical and physical processing
  • Membrane filtration and synthesis.

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Research facilities

  • Bench and pilot plant filtration systems
  • Ultrasound processing equipment
  • Water testing facilities
  • Specialist laboratories for microbial systems, water and particle technology.

The technology developed as part of your research project will be demonstrated in an existing modular-built pilot mini plant in Surrey, which contains three sections: feed preparation, reaction and downstreaming (purification/separation) processes, with a throughput of 50 litres/min and a reactor vessel operating volume of 300d/m3. It includes a heat exchanger network, pressure relief system and alarm management, and is fully automated with over 60 sensors and a DCS system.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper second-class (2:1) UK degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower-second (2:2) UK degree plus a good UK masters degree - distinction normally required (or equivalent overseas qualification).

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

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

These are the English language qualifications and levels that we can 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.

Application requirements

Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.

After registration

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

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants:

  • Meeting the expected entry requirements
  • Being shortlisted through the application screening process
  • Completing a successful interview
  • Providing suitable references.

Fees

Start date: April 2024

Full-time

UK
£4,712
Overseas
£24,100

Part-time

UK
£2,356
Overseas
£12,100

Start date: July 2024

Full-time

UK
£4,712
Overseas
£24,100

Part-time

UK
£2,356
Overseas
£12,100

Start date: October 2024

Full-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£26,200

Part-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£13,100

Start date: January 2025

Full-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£26,200

Part-time

UK
To be confirmed
Overseas
£13,100
  • Annual fees will increase by 4% for each year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100 (subject to legal requirements).
  • Any start date other than September 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).

View the list of fees for all postgraduate research courses.

Additional costs

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

Funding

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

Apply online

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, please provide details of the project instead of a research proposal.

Read our application guidance for further information on applying.

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 to study at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to follow our policies and procedures, student regulations, and terms and conditions.

We provide these terms and conditions in two stages:

  • First when we make an offer.
  • Second when students accept their offer and register to study with us (registration terms and conditions will vary depending on your course and academic year).

View our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide on what to expect.

Disclaimer

This online prospectus has been published in advance of the academic year to which it applies.

Whilst we have done everything possible to ensure this information is accurate, some changes may happen between publishing and the start of the course.

It is 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

Address

University of Surrey
Guildford
Surrey GU2 7XH