Mathematics PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Why choose this programme

From geometry and partial differential equations to fluid dynamics (including meteorology), data science (including statistics) and modelling within 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 leaders in their fields, and they offer support for innovative research 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 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/6G 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, plus leading businesses, such as AstraZenica and Offshore Wave Energy Limited, and government agencies, such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the MET Office and Surrey Police.

We’re part of the MAGIC network, which provides a large selection of PhD courses in pure and applied mathematics, so you’ll 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.

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

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’ll meet on a frequent basis to discuss your research and your career development. They’ll oversee your progress, guide your critical thinking and offer advice throughout your studies.

During the 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 mathematics knowledge. Most of these will be completed in your first year, with some completed in your second year. These include taught courses from MAGIC, the London Taught Course Centre and the Academy for PhD Training in Statistics, plus 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 be encouraged to 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’ll work closely with you to help you manage your writing and make you critically reflect on the research you’ve done. Often, you’ll write and submit more research papers in this time, too.

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


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.

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 any MSc modules you take.



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 
  • 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 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 you’ll be based in the Department close to your supervisor.

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.

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.

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 2022


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300

Start date: January 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300

Start date: April 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £20,500


UK £2,298

Overseas £10,300

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) 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 Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH