PhD - Engineering and Physical Sciences

Aston's College of Engineering and Physical Sciences offers an exciting environment for advanced research and training. Please note we offer start dates in October, January, April and July.

Course type

Full-time

Course format

No placements

Duration

3 years

UCAS code(s)

N/A

Start date

About

About the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences focuses on research that is significant to the current and future needs of our society. This is your chance to contribute to this course and help improve communities.

Our research is recognised internationally: over half our research funding comes from international sources. We also receive support from UK Government, research councils and charities. Our research projects tackle strategic priorities such as energy, information and communication technologies (ICT), and healthcare technologies. All our staff are engaged in research and with an unusually large proportion of them operating research projects linked to industry.

Find out more about the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences here. 

Studying a research degree with us means you will be a member of the College Student Research Society, enjoying a range of events (seminars by external distinguish speakers, annual poster competition, inter-school collaboration, social gathering and outing) organised by the society to enrich your academic and social life experience.

Find out more about the research taking place within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences here. 

School research areas

If you want to pursue a rewarding postgraduate research degree leading to a PhD qualification that matches not only your interests but prepares you with high level knowledge and skills in one of the fields below then Aston is the right choice.

In addition, the College has a number of multidisciplinary Research Groups, drawing together skills from across the school:

Current Studentship Opportunities 2021/22

We offer a range of fully or partially funded studentships covering a range of specialities. The adverts including full project details, can be found on our vacancy management page. If there are no available studentships open, please check back regularly, or you can set up a job alert email via the vacancy management page.

Fees

UK students (2021/22)

Annual tuition fees: £4,500

International students (2021/22)

Annual tuition fees: £17,600


Home students, including EU students with settled or pre-settled status, living in England may be eligible for a non-means tested, low interest, loan towards tuition costs and living expenses. Find out more about the Doctoral Loans Scheme.

Entry requirements

Academic Entry Requirements

Applicants should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution).

Some school funded projects may have specific academic requirements, and details of these will be included in the project advert details listed on this page.

Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application.  If your qualification is suitable and your grades are good, we would normally accepted this as providing evidence of your research potential.

We may also consider applicants who have substantial and significant work experience outside of their degree(s) in a relevant field, but who do not currently meet our academic entry requirements; this can include unpaid internships, volunteering for charities and NGO’s or self-funded activities.

English Language Entry Requirements 

For applicants who are not from majority English speaking countries, it is necessary to meet our English language requirements. For details of the language requirements please visit the English language requirements page.

How to apply

Research students can commence their studies on one of four dates each year:

  • 1 October
  • 1 January
  • 1 April
  • 1 July

Please apply as early as possible before your preferred start date to enable us to process your application in good time for your start date. This is particularly important for international students who need extra time to apply for their Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) and visa.

If you are applying for an advertised studentship opportunity, there may be a specified closing date; please refer to the relevant advert for more information.

Supporting Documents

If you are bringing your own research project proposal you can apply for a place at any time of the year you will need to submit a research project proposal and accompanying supporting documents.

It is important that you clearly describe your area of research interest. This enables us to match you with potential supervisors or research groups more easily. You will be required to submit a research proposal for the project you are interested in, however your final research activity will be defined in consultation with your supervisors.

A good research proposal is one of the most important aspects of your application. This should confirm the quality of your ideas, your ability to think originally and critically, to ensure that you really have understood the depth of investigation that your doctoral research will entail, and that you have a good understanding of the key theories and relevant literature. When writing your proposal you should consider the following points:

  • A proposed title of the research topic
  • Overview of the research area -You should provide a brief abstract of your intended research topic.
  • Aim and development of the research problem –Demonstrate the practical importance of your research design and provide a brief but focused review of relevant research. In your review, highlight current thinking and research relating to the project and the gaps within this research.
  • Methodology -This section should demonstrate preliminary ideas about the project and how you intend to implement your research. You should specify and justify the approach you feel will be most appropriate.
  • Research planning and timelines -demonstrate your understanding of the need for planning and provide rough timelines detailing how you intended to structure your research.

You are welcome to contact one of our academics to discuss your proposed project before making an application. The research interests of all our academic staff can be found with each Research Group.

Without a clear project proposal, we will not be able to proceed with your application, so please ensure you take time to provide a clearly defined project idea.

Please note that a personal statement is not acceptable as a project proposal.

It is important that you fully understand the requirements of a PhD. Information is available to help you plan your research and choose the right institution and supervisor.

In addition to your project proposal, please include the following supporting documents with your application form:

  • A copy of your current CV detailing all previous academic study, and full details of work experience. Please do not leave any gaps in your CV as this may delay the processing of your application.
  • Transcripts and certificates for your Bachelor degree and Masters Degree (if applicable). Please note: For overseas qualifications a translated copy of the transcript will be required.
  • Two academic references from your most recent academic institution, or details of two referees that you are happy for us to contact.
  • If English is not your first language, your English language test score (or test date if you have yet to sit the examinations). For details of the language requirements please visit the English language requirements page.

Making your application

Making an application can be split into the following steps:

  1. Use the 'Select Online Application Form' below to access the online application form. Then click "Apply for selected Degree Programme" (this will open in a new window)
  2. Complete the online application form, uploading the necessary documents
  3. We'll review your application and contact you if we require any additional information/documents
  4. If you have applied for one of our research projects, and your application is successful, the supervisor will contact you to arrange an interview.
  5. If you have submitted your own project, and your application is successful, a supervisor who is interested in your project will contact to arrange an interview.

Select online application form

 


 

Application guidance notes

The following guidance notes will aid you in completing the online application form. We advise keeping this page open while you apply as a useful point of reference.

Making your online application

When progressing through the application form please use the hyperlinks/buttons at the bottom of each page and not your web browser back and forward buttons.

Existing Aston Students: Please note: You will need to Create a New Account to start a new application please do not log in with your student username and password.

When creating your new account please ensure that you provide us with a valid and accurate email address as most of the correspondence from Aston will be sent via email.

You will be automatically logged in after this and be able to start your application immediately.

You can elect to 'Save and Return Later' at any point of the process, at which point you will be emailed details on how to return to your application later.

Sponsored Students

You are "sponsored student" if all or part of your tuition fee will be paid by an external organisation (not a family member). This may be an employer, a government/embassy or scholarship funding organisation. Aston University will send an invoice directly to your sponsor.

What to do

As part of your application please ensure to provide details of your sponsorship.

Once you have accepted a place at Aston, ask your Sponsor to write a letter on their company headed paper, which clearly states the following:

  • Your full name
  • Full details of where the invoice should be sent, including Sponsor contact name, details, address and e-mail address.
  • Any reference or name that needs to be quoted on the invoice.
  • What fees are to be paid by the sponsor (tuition, accommodation or both).
  • Amount of money the Sponsor is contributing to tuition or accommodation costs (the value in GBP or percentage of the fees).
  • How long the sponsorship will last. For example, whether you are being sponsored for one academic year only or for every year of your course. If this changes, your Sponsor will need to send us another letter. For example, if you are being sponsored for one academic year only, but your Sponsor later decides to sponsor you for every year of your course.

Two copies of the letter will need to be sent to Aston University. One copy should be sent to Credit Control, Finance Department, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, United Kingdom, B4 7ET. The second copy should be sent to the PGR Admissions Office (as detailed on your offer letter).

If you tell us you are a sponsored student, but we don't receive a letter from your Sponsor you won't be able to enrol until we receive it. Please note that we reserve the right to reject a sponsor letter and if your sponsor does not pay, you will be personally responsible for payment of the debt.

Completing the online form

There are guidance notes available through out the application to assist you in completing the form.

Names
Please input your first names and family name as stated in your passport or other official documentation. 

E-mail addresses
E-mail address. This is your personal email address - the email address used to register an online application account with Aston University.

Alternative contact E-mail address. If you are an Educational Agent, working on behalf of an applicant, please insert the Educational Agent email address in this box.

Addresses
Please provide information on your address. The permanent address is usually your home address. This is the address we will use to contact you unless you specify a correspondence address. 

If the correspondence address given is temporary, please ensure that you notify the relevant Admissions Office of any changes.

Disability/additional support needs
This section is included for the purposes of monitoring equal opportunities and to ensure that students with a disability know about and have access to appropriate facilities and services. Applications are judged solely on academic merit. The University is committed to equal opportunities in its admissions policy and considers applications from candidates with disabilities on the same academic grounds as apply to all candidates.

Find out more information about the facilities and support available contact:

The Enabling Team
Aston University
Aston Triangle
Birmingham
B4 7ET
UK

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 4700
E-mail: enablingteam@aston.ac.uk


If appropriate, please choose the code most relevant to you from the drop down menu, when completing the online application form. Please also give any details of any special requirements or additional support needs you might have.

Educational details
Please include all qualifications obtained or anticipated (post compulsory education only).

Please make sure that the names of the educational institutions are written in full and not abbreviated to initials – also state the country in which the institution is located. Please indicate the type of award for which you have studied e.g. BA, BSc or MA and the title used on the degree certificate/transcript. Give the grades you obtained e.g. degree classification, Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) score and state what it is out of i.e. 80/100.

Please note that the authenticity of your qualifications will be checked by Aston with the awarding institution/examination board and that submission of fraudulent documents will disqualify you from studying in the UK.

Professional Qualifications
Please enter any professional qualifications received or memberships of professional institutions that are relevant to your application e.g. the Chartered Institute of Marketing Professional Diploma or any other non-academic qualification e.g. GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test).

Your Academic Qualifications, to a maximum of 14
The most important qualification to include is the qualification you are currently studying, or if you have completed all qualifications, the highest qualification that you have achieved.

English
All applicants are required to provide evidence of their ability in English. The minimum English language requirement varies between schools - please refer to the English Language Requirements page for the individual programme requirements.

Relevant Work Experience
Please include any relevant work experience to support your application by ticking the box and completing all the mandatory fields.

Please note that relevant work experience is a requirement for some programmes; please refer to the course entry requirements for further information.

Finance Details
Please provide as much information as possible about how you will be funding your postgraduate studies. If you have been awarded a grant/scholarship for all or part of your costs please send us a copy of the letter of the award you have received from the grant-awarding body. This can be uploaded at the beginning of your application.

Personal Statement
You are required to complete a personal statement.

The statement should add any further information which you think is relevant to your application e.g. personal suitability for research, career aspirations, possible future research interests, further description of relevant employment experience etc. Also include information about your leisure activities and interests.

Please do not include symbols in your text as the system may not recognise them.

Research proposal
A good research proposal is one of the most important aspects of your application to the Research Degrees Programme. When the University receives your research proposal, we use it to confirm the quality of your ideas, your ability to think originally and critically, to ensure that you really have understood the depth of investigation that your doctoral research will entail, and that you have a good understanding of the key theories and literature. Research Proposals should be in sufficient detail to enable the relevant research group or supervisor to decide if your experience is appropriate and if your proposed topic is relevant to existing research themes at Aston. The outline should be a substantial document, typically 6 to 12 pages in length. Please refer to ‘How to Apply’ section on the programme page for programme-specific requirements. If applying for an advertised project or studentship, please refer to the advert for research proposal requirements.

References
You must provide two official references. Members of your family or friends cannot provide references. At least one of your referees should be from the institution where you studied your last University degree. References must be provided on headed-paper and/or stamped by the institution and must be signed by the referee.

If you choose to enter an email address for either of your referees they will be automatically e-mailed to ask them to provide you with a reference if the ‘Email this referee on application submission?’ box is ticked. The referee’s email address must originate from the referee’s official university/professional e-mail address. Private e-mail references will not be accepted.

The referees will receive full instructions on how to complete the references and where to send once they have completed the reference. PLEASE NOTE: If you apply for more than one course at Aston but are using the same referee you do not need to tick the ‘Email this referee on application submission?’ box, for your second or any subsequent applications.

Those applicants who have chosen not to have their referees automatically emailed will need to contact the relevant PGR Admissions Office for more information on manually sending the references for your application. Please include the Application Reference Number, emailed to you separately, on all correspondence.

If you are applying for an advertised Studentship please state the reference code. This can be found on the advertisement.

Please note that the authenticity of your qualifications will be checked by Aston with the awarding institution/examination board and that submission of fraudulent documents will disqualify you from studying in the UK.

Professional qualifications
Please enter any professional qualifications received or memberships of professional institutions that are relevant to your application e.g. the Chartered Institute of Marketing Professional Diploma or any other non-academic qualification e.g. GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). 

Your academic qualifications, to a maximum of 14
The most important qualification to include is the qualification you are currently studying, or if you have completed all qualifications, the highest qualification that you have achieved.

English
All applicants are required to provide evidence of their ability in English. The minimum English language requirement varies between schools - please refer to the Postgraduate prospectus for the individual programme requirements.  These usually include:  GCSE / ‘O’ Level English language, IELTS, Pearson Test of English (PTE) or TOEFL, although there are other acceptable qualifications.  Please note that IELTS and TOEFL results are only valid for 2 years. Applicants who have already successfully completed, or are successfully completing, a full time university degree in the UK and other English-speaking countries may be exempt from these requirements. Applicants with less than the minimum English Language requirement may be rejected or asked to retake the relevant examinations. Alternatively, they may need to successfully complete one of the English language courses at Aston University before starting their programme of study. Applicants will be notified at the point of offer of any such conditions.

Relevant work experience
Please include any relevant work experience to support your application by ticking the box and completing all the mandatory fields.

Please note that relevant work experience is a requirement for some programmes; please refer to the programme listed in the prospectus or the website for further information.

Finance details
Please provide as much information as possible about how you will be funding your postgraduate studies.  If you have been awarded a grant/scholarship for all or part of your costs please send us a copy of the letter of the award you have received from the grant-awarding body. This can be uploaded at the beginning of your application.

Personal statement
You are required to complete a personal statement.
 
The statement should add any further information which you think is relevant to your application e.g. personal suitability for research, career aspirations, possible future research interests, further description of relevant employment experience etc. Also include information about your leisure activities and interests.

Please do not include symbols in your text as the system may not recognise them.

Research proposal
A good research proposal is one of the most important aspects of your application to the Research Degrees Programme. When the University receives your research proposal, we use it to confirm the quality of your ideas, your ability to think originally and critically, to ensure that you really have understood the depth of investigation that your doctoral research will entail, and that you have a good understanding of the key theories and literature. Research Proposals should be in sufficient detail to enable the relevant research group or supervisor to decide if your experience is appropriate and if your proposed topic is relevant to existing research themes at Aston. The outline should be a substantial document, typically 6 to 12 pages in length. Please refer to ‘How to Apply’ section on the programme page for programme-specific requirements. If applying for an advertised project or studentship, please refer to the advert for research proposal requirements.

References
You must provide two official references.  Members of your family or friends cannot provide references.  At least one of your referees should be from the institution where you studied your last University degree. For Research Applicants: If you have completed your first Degree at a different University to your Masters Degree please provide a reference from both Institutions. References must be provided on headed-paper and/or stamped by the institution and must be signed by the referee.

If you choose to enter an email address for either of your referees they will be automatically e-mailed to ask them to provide you with a reference if the ‘Email this referee on application submission?’ box is ticked. The referee’s email address must originate from the referee’s official university/professional e-mail address. Private e-mail references will not be accepted.

The referees will receive full instructions on how to complete the references and where to send once they have completed the reference. PLEASE NOTE: If you apply for more than one course at Aston but are using the same referee you do not need to tick the ‘Email this referee on application submission?’ box, for your second or any subsequent applications.

Those applicants who have chosen not to have their referees automatically emailed will need to contact the relevant Admissions Office for more information on manually sending the references for your application. Please include the Application Reference Number, emailed to you separately, on all correspondence.

If you are applying for an advertised Studentship please state the reference code. This can be found on the advertisement.

What happens next?

Once you have completed your application you will be automatically logged out from the system and emailed with confirmation that your application has been received.

After this point, admissions staff at Aston will communicate with you via the email address you have provided regarding the outcome of your application and you will not need to log in to the Online Application form again.

If you have any supporting documents which you need to send to us please send these to pgr_admissions@aston.ac.uk.
 

Notification of decision
The University will make a decision based on the information you have provided and you will be advised of the decision within a few weeks. (If you do not hear anything after 6 weeks and you have completed your online application and provided all required supporting documentation, you can email the PGR Admissions Office as stated on your receipt of application email. Your query can be processed quicker if you can provide your Reference Number, as provided on the email sent you when you submitted your application form).

You will be contacted by the university with a decision to invite you to an interview, or that your application has been unsuccessful.

Following a successful interview, the offer of a place will be made. This may be subject to certain conditions which you have to meet before your admissions can be confirmed (conditional offer). You must satisfy these conditions by sending further evidence or completing additional documentation to the University.

If you have any more questions about the application process or the information you will need to provide the University, please contact us.

Technical problems

This section provides you with some simple solutions to technical problems that you might have whilst completing the online Application Form.

I can’t create a new account, what should I do?
If you are unable to create a new account, please ensure that you are using a supported web browser (listed below) and that you are completing all of the required fields on the new account page.

You are unable to create an account twice with the same email address. If you need to apply for a second Degree Programme at Aston, you can use your existing account details to log in. If you have forgotten your original password, please follow the instructions below to receive a reminder of your password.

If (after verifying that you are using a supported web browser and that you do not already have an account in the system) you are still unable to create an account please contact our technical support staff at it_helpdesk@aston.ac.uk.

I haven’t received any emails from the application form, why is this?
Normally, you will receive an email once you choose to ‘save and return Later’ to your current application or when you complete an application form. You may not receive these emails if:
Your email software or provider has marked the emails as Junk or Spam. Please check your Junk / Spam folder to see if any emails have been directed there.  Additionally, please ensure that you add ‘aston.ac.uk’ to your email account safe list so that any further emails sent to you by the Admissions team are received quickly and safely. You may also have entered your email address incorrectly when creating your account. If this is the case, please contact our technical support staff at isa_helpdesk@aston.ac.uk with your name, date of birth and email address. How do I get a reminder of or reset my password?
To have your password reset visit this webpage on MAP. You will be asked to provide the email address, surname and date of birth that you entered when you originally created your account. If these are accepted by the system, your password will be reset to a random value and emailed to you.

If you are unable to retrieve your password this way, please contact our technical support staff at isa_helpdesk@aston.ac.uk

The application form doesn’t look right or doesn’t work properly on my computer, what can I do?
The Aston application form has been tested to work with the following web browsers:
Internet Explorer 8 Firefox Google Chrome Safari You will also need to ensure that Javascript is enabled on your internet browsing software. This is usually enabled by default.
If you are using one of these web browsers and are still experiencing issues, please contact our technical support staff at isa_helpdesk@aston.ac.uk

I’ve made some mistakes on my application form or supporting documentation, what do I do?
If you haven’t submitted your application form, you can change any of the documents you have uploaded and any of the information you have entered simply by logging into your application and making the necessary changes.

If you have submitted your application form, please contact the relevant Admissions Office as stated on your receipt of application email  with details of any changes you wish to make, along with any supporting documentation if applicable

How do I log back into an uncompleted application form once I have chosen to ‘Save and Return Later’?
You can access any existing application form by simply logging back into your application.

You can log in using the email address and password you used to create your account. However you cannot use this to start a new application.

Additional advice for international students

If you are an overseas student and require a student visa to come to the UK, you must also allow sufficient time to submit your visa application form to your local British Embassy/High Commission.

For some of our courses you may also be required to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, which can take up to 4 weeks to be issued, please allow sufficient time for this.

If you are applying as a non-EU International student, you should note that the terms and conditions of entry into the UK usually prevent you registering for a part-time programme. For more information, please refer to www.ukvisas.gov.uk or www.ukcisa.org.uk

Contact us

If you require any additional advice before you wish to submit your application, please contact us at pgr_admissions@aston.ac.uk

Contact us

For queries regarding research degrees and scholarships please contact:

Research Admissions Officer
School Centre
School of Engineering & Applied Science
Aston Triangle
Aston University
Birmingham B4 7ET
United Kingdom

Tel:  +44 0121 204 5246
Email:  seasres@aston.ac.uk


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