Why choose this programme
From geometry and partial differential equations to fluid dynamics, data science 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 teaching 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, mathematical 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 Research Centre, the Surrey Institute for People-Centred Artificial Intelligence and the School of Veterinary Medicine, to partnerships with other institutions from around the globe. Our national and international collaborators include: Harvard, Los Alamos, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and the ETH Zurich; 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 also have a joint Mathematics PhD course in partnership with the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.
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, government, or a wide variety of other fields.
You’ll work closely with one or two supervisors, who you’ll meet frequently 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 mathematical 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 when attending 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 be required to complete a 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 part 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.
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.
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. You’ll also do short take-home examinations for online MAGIC courses and the assessments for any MSc modules you take.
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.
PhD studentships in mathematics
Each PhD studentship is fully-funded, including fees and a tax-free stipend, at UKRI studentship rates covered for the duration of 3 to 4 years for UK candidates. International candidates are welcome to apply but will need to cover the difference between the UK and overseas fees.
- 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.
As a PhD student, you’ll have your own desk and computer, and you’ll be based near to your supervisor.
MSc modules will be taught in small classrooms, normally with five to 15 students.
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.
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.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Start date: January 2024
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: October 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. 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).
Overseas students applying for 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
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.
Read our application guidance for further 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 procedures, 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 registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 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.