Mathematics PhD

Key information

Part-time - 8 years

Start date

October 2020

Full-time - 4 years

Start date

October 2020

Why choose this course

From geometry, partial differential equations to fluid dynamics, meteorology, statistics and modelling in the life sciences, mathematics at Surrey offers an extraordinary range of research opportunities that lie at the heart of the critical scientific questions of our age.

Our staff are at the forefront of their field, and offer support for innovative research courses in a lively, inspiring and intellectually stimulating environment. Our research cuts a broad swathe through both pure and applied areas of mathematics, and we’re unique in the strong emphasis we place on research at the interface between pure and applied mathematics.

As well as developing new cutting-edge mathematics, our research also involves innovative applications in areas such as data analytics, wave energy, drug development, ecology, biological systems, theoretical physics, climate change and meteorology, crime forecasting and prevention, and machine learning.

We work closely with other academics, industries and research groups, ranging from internal collaborations with the Surrey Sleep Centre, the 5G Innovation Centre, and the School of Veterinary Medicine to partnerships with other institutions from around the globe. Our national and international collaborators include Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, and the ETH Zurich as well as leading businesses such as AstraZenica, Offshore Wave Energy Limited, and government agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

We’re part of the MAGIC network, which provides a large selection of PhD courses in pure and applied mathematics, so you will be able to explore these fields during your time with us. We’re also a host department for the SCENARIO NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

We also have a joint Mathematics PhD course in partnership with the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

Read more

What you will study

Our PhD in Mathematics will give you extensive training for a career as a professional mathematician, ready for a future in academia, industry, or government.

You’ll work closely with one or two supervisors, who you will meet on a frequent basis to discuss your research and your career development. They will oversee your progress and offer advice throughout your PhD studies. 

During your first few months of your PhD you’ll enrol and attend a series of induction events, and work with your supervisor to design a personal development plan which you’ll update throughout your PhD.

You’ll complete a number of taught modules, including assessments, to broaden your mathematical knowledge. Most of these will be completed in your first year, with some completed in your second year. These are a mix of MAGIC taught courses, courses from the London Taught Course Centre, courses from the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics or our own masters-level modules. You’ll also get training in department research seminars aimed at both staff and PhD students. On average, you’ll be attending approximately one or two research seminars a week.

In your second year, you’ll complete a PhD confirmation report and pass an internal viva examination. You’ll present your research in your research group seminar, and design a research poster. You’ll usually start working on your first research paper together with your supervisors in your second year.

The last year or two of your PhD is all about advancing your research and completing your thesis. You’ll have regular meetings with your supervisor, who will work closely with you to help you manage your writing and critically reflect on the research you’ve done. Often, you’ll write and submit more research papers in this time too.

We encourage PhD students to take part in research summer and winter schools, and present your work at national and international conferences. We can support your travel to these events.


You’ll be assessed in the first 15 months of your PhD through a confirmation report and a viva with two internal examiners. Your PhD overall will be assessed through your thesis and a viva, normally with one internal and one external examiner. You’ll also do short take-home examinations for online MAGIC courses and the assessments for MSc modules, if you take any.

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

  • Epidemiology and ecology
  • Mathematical criminology
  • Cellular systems and quantitative systems pharmacology
  • Data science and statistical analysis
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Dynamical systems
  • Analysis of Hamiltonian, dissipative and delayed PDEs
  • Perturbation theory (regular and singular) and bifurcation analysis of Hamiltonian and near-Hamiltonian systems
  • Numerics of differential equations, numerical bifurcation analysis
  • Calculus of variations and nonlinear elasticity theory
  • Ergodic theory
  • Multi-scale fluid flow analysis
  • Geometric mechanics
  • Ferro fluids
  • Hydrodynamic stability
  • Nonlinear water waves and wave energy harvesting
  • Data assimilation and data science for large geophysical and social systems
  • Quantum field theory, string/m-theory and supergravity
  • Gauge/gravity, field theory and string theory dualities
  • Topological field and string theory
  • Classical and quantum integrability
  • Twistor geometry and geometric analysis
  • Data Analytics
  • Machine Learning.

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Mathematics.

Research facilities

As a PhD student, you’ll have your own desk and computer, and be based in the department close to your supervisor.

We have dedicated space for taking knowledge enhancing MAGIC courses, and any department MSc modules you take will take place in small classrooms, normally with about five to 15 students.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a good first class degree in an MMath, MPhys or MSc qualification, or a first class honours degree in mathematics, physical sciences or engineering.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

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

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.

Your application

Before completing your application, please get in touch with the relevant supervisor to discuss your proposed area of research. See a full list of our academic staff within the Department of Mathematics.


Start date: October 2020


UK/EU To be confirmed

Overseas £9,700


UK/EU To be confirmed

Overseas £19,300

For fees payable in 2018/19, 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 2018 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. 

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) 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 more.

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

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH