The Department of Physics is home to PhD students from around the world, supported by 34 full-time, research-active academic staff. Our PhD research programmes provide opportunities for experimental, theoretical and computational research in both fundamental and applied physics, in subjects such as nuclear and radiation physics, astrophysics, photonics, soft matter, quantum technologies and medical physics. We’re a friendly and engaging academic community, and can offer a wide variety of support, training and social activities.
You’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists around the world, and take advantage of our strategic partnerships with organisations such as the National Physical Laboratory and the Royal Surrey County Hospital. We’re part of the South-East Physics network of nine leading university physics departments (SEPnet), and you’ll become part of its graduate network (GRADnet), the largest postgraduate research school in England.
We have an excellent graduate employability record, and the collaborative, interdisciplinary and industry-relevant nature of our research means you’ll make contacts, gain skills and get practical experience that will give you an edge with employers.
Our research ranges from fundamental nuclear theory to applied research in semiconductor devices. Our nuclear physics group is the largest combined experimental and theoretical group in its field in the UK. Our research in astrophysics is dynamic and rapidly growing, and our latest research in quantum technology has resulted in publications in top international journals. Our research often has strong practical applications, such as the strained layer laser that is today ubiquitous in information technology.
The most recent (2014) Research Excellence Framework (REF) rated 84 per cent of our research output as world-leading or internationally excellent, and our undergraduate programmes were ranked 8th nationally by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016, and 10th by the Complete University Guide 2017.
It normally takes between three and four years of full-time study to complete our PhD in Physics.
You’ll be assigned two supervisors, both based at the University of Surrey. Your principal supervisor will be an expert in your area of research, and will guide you through your PhD. Together, your supervisors will help you define the objectives and scope of your research, and help you learn the experimental, theoretical and computing skills that you need to complete your research. Normally, you’ll meet with your supervisors every week or every other week.
As a doctoral student in the Department of Physics, you’ll be assigned to a research group with a team of academics, postdoctoral researchers, guest scientists and fellows. Each group has its own seminar programme, giving you the opportunity to learn from colleagues and from guest scientists.
You’ll have regular opportunities to meet other PhD students, academics and other staff at our informal postgraduate research forum meetings, and to get involved in organising social or other events.
You’ll complete a confirmation report after 12 months that’s assessed by independent examiners. Your PhD will be assessed overall by a written thesis after studying for at least three years.
In addition to the award of a PhD, as a doctoral student you’ll be able to join the Institute of Physics as an Associate Member, and entitled to apply for full membership after three years of postgraduate study.
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There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
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).