Centre for Doctoral Training

Two world-leading universities have joined forces to develop the next generation of researchers working on connected electronic and photonic systems that will change the way we live and work.

"If you really want to change the world, then why not study with us"
Prof Cyril Renaud, Programme Director

PhD Evdokia Pilavaki UCL-web.jpg

IMAGE: PhD student Evdokia Pilavaki in the lab.

The Centre

The University of Cambridge and University College London (UCL) have combined their expertise in photonics to establish a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems (CEPS), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

We train postgraduate students using innovative teaching and learning techniques at two leading higher education institutions. 

We work with over thirty companies and research organisations worldwide who support student projects and contribute to our doctoral training and research programme.

The programme

We offer an advanced four-year programme in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems which combines a one year Master of Research (MRes) followed by a three year doctorate (PhD).

The programme is designed to provide students with a solid grounding in the area of photonics and to develop the advanced skills to enable high quality PhD research.

Read more at: Programme summary

Funded studentships are available. 
See the APPLY page for details.

How to apply

We welcome pre-applications from November to May each year.

The Centre operates a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Pre-application and interview 
  • Prospective students should submit a Pre-Application form. 
  • We process pre-applications on an ongoing basis from November.
  • Shortlisted candidates are invited to interview, which take place monthly. 
  • Successful candidates are invited to make a full application (stage 2).

Stage 2: Full application
  • Candidates who are successful at Stage 1 are invited to make a full application to either UCL or University of Cambridge.

Closing dates

We are no longer accepting pre-applications for September 2021 intake. 
Pre-applications open in November 2021 for the 2022-23 academic year.

Competition for places is high so students are advised to submit a pre-application as early as possible for pre-screening.

Stage 1: Pre-applications (for interview) close
  • Cambridge: 30 May each year
  • UCL: 30 June each year

Stage 2: Full application* (university direct) close
  • Cambridge: 30 June each year
  • UCL: 30 July each year

*Applicants who make a full application without first submitting a pre-application may not be considered for the CEPS programme.

Who should apply

We welcome applications from:

  • UK graduates with a good first degree (1st or good 2:1) in a relevant science and/or engineering. 
  • EU and overseas students with equivalent qualifications. 
  • Applicants with relevant qualifications or industry experience who can demonstrate scientific or engineering research capability.

Funding and financial support

UK/Home applicants

Fully funded places (stipend and fees) are available for UK/Home students who meet residency requirements. See the APPLY page for details.

EU/Overseas applicants (2021/21)

UKRI funded studentships

EU and International students starting in 2021/22 academic year are eligible to be considered for UKRI funded studentships. (Note: This does not apply to students who commenced prior to 2021/22. Eligibility is established at the start of the UKRI studentship and does not change throughout the duration of the award.).

A limited number of funded studentships are available, so students are advised to apply to the programme as early as possible. If not successful in gaining a UKRI funded studentship you will need to seek alternative funding, a scholarship or be self-funded.


Scholarships are available to EU and overseas students on the basis of academic achievements and potential. Deadlines and eligibility criteria differ depending on the funder and institution.

Further details:

Funding for OS students - University of Cambridge

Funding for OS students - UCL

EU/EEA students fee status (2021/22)

The UK’s exit from the EU took place on 31 January 2020. A transition period following the UK’s exit from the EU ends on 31 December 2020. Free movement of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and UK nationals will continue until the end of the transition period. From 1 January 2021, post-EU exit immigration rules will apply.

EU and EEA students starting the CEPS programme in 2021/22 academic year will become international students and liable for international fees.

To be classed as a UK/Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirement) or,
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens currently studying in the UK and living in the UK as of 31 December, 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If successful, applicants will get either settled or pre-settled status. Please note, you must apply for this status by 30 June, 2021.

Further information:

UCL visa advice service

Cambridge visa advice service

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

Equality and diversity

Both UCL and University of Cambridge are committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the recruitment, selection, education and assessment of students. We welcome applicants regardless of age, disability, gender identity, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Further information:

Diversity policy - University of Cambridge 

Diversity policy - UCL