Graphite under water droplet (David Horsell)

Postgraduate PhD Research in Physics and Astronomy

The research interests of Physics at the University of Exeter range from quantum behaviour in nanomaterials to the formation of stars and the age of the universe. Our internationally excellent research, as recognised in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, spans condensed-matter and materials physics, biomedical physics, photonics and astrophysics. About 100 researchers including academic staff, research fellows and postgraduate students are supported by some 20 technical and administrative staff. 

We are well funded from a range of sources such as EPSRC, MRC, STFC and the European Union, and we host the EPSRC's Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2), which recruits up to 18 students on fully-funded studentships per year.  In addition, we have links with many hi-tech commercial companies including DSTL, QinetiQ, BAE Systems, Hitachi GST and Sharp UK.

Read more about our PhD Research programmes here.

Why study for a PhD in Physics and Astronomy at Exeter?

  • 8th in the UK for world leading and internationally excellent research1
  • Multimillion pound investment in ultra fast lasers, nano-fabrication, bio-imaging, clean-rooms and computing facilities
  • Excellent research facilities include an astronomical observatory, a £1 million supercomputer and a helium liquefier
  • Host of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials, recruiting to 18 fully-funded studentships per year
  • Over 90 per cent submit their theses within the EPSRC deadline period, with most publishing several scientific papers during their period of study
  • Collaborative biomedical research opportunities with Sport and Health Sciences and University of Exeter Medical School

1 Research Assessment Exercise 2008 based on percentage of research categorised as 4* and 3*

James Milton

I only really looked at staying here for my PhD, the area of research I am doing actually carries on from my Masters project, and I knew this was the best place for my research, and the department is great, so I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. I am working on a slight variation of graphene, known as GraphExeter, which we came up with ourselves here at Exeter. This is more conductive without losing its flexibility or transparency, so it can be used in items such as TVs and hand-held computers. I find the PhD so much more focused that my undergraduate course, you are immersed in your field day after day. My supervisor is also fairly hands on, and is always ready to answer any questions, while there is also a good network of other PhD students who collaborate and help each other out, which also really helps. I have always enjoyed experimental research and I find it fascinating to be able to use the equipment – some of the things we can do is quite amazing. I would recommend Exeter as a good place to do a PhD, the department I am in is a graphene centre so it is quite specialised for my field, and the academics are well respected and we have some very notable people researching here. I wouldn’t look anywhere else.

James Milton, Physics postgraduate