Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic and Electronic Systems

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


IMAGE: PhD student Evdokia Pilavaki in the lab.

"If you really want to change the world, then study with us"
Prof Cyril Renaud, Programme Director

The Centre

University College London (UCL) and the University of Cambridge and have combined their expertise to establish a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Photonic and Electronic Systems (PES).

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 Photonic and Electronic 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

How to apply

The Centre operates a three-stage application process.

Stage 1: Pre-application (any time)
  • Prospective students should submit a Pre-Application form. 
  • Pre-applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis from November to May.
  • Shortlisted candidates are invited to interview (stage 2).

Stage 2: Interview
  • Suitable candidates are invited to interview, which take place monthly from November to May.
  • Successful interviewees are invited to make a full application direct to the university (stage 3).
Stage 3: Full application
  • Candidates who are successful at interview are invited to make a full application to either UCL or University of Cambridge.
  • Full applications are processed by the respective university.

Application closing dates

We are no longer accepting pre-applications for 2024 entry. 

Pre-applications will re-open in November for entry in 2025.

Pre-application screening: November to May
Full applications close: June
Course start date: end of September

We recommend submitting a pre-application as early as possible. The application portals may close early if all places are filled.

Stage 1 and 2: Pre-applications* (for screening and interview):
  • open November 2024
  • close May 2025

Stage 3: Full formal application to university*:

  • Cambridge: November to June
  • UCL: November to June

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

EPSRC funded studentships

The Centre has applied for a new funding award from September 2024. We expect to learn the outcome of the bid by May 2024. Funding for studentships starting in September 2024 are subject to confirmation.


Scholarships (independent of the Centre) are available. Deadlines and eligibility criteria differ depending on the funding body. Further details:

Funding for Overseas students - UCL

Funding for Overseas students - University of Cambridge

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 - UCL

Diversity policy - University of Cambridge