Apply for the programme

Application process

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

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

Deadlines for 2025 entry:
Step 1:
Pre-applications (November to May)
Step 2: Interview
Step 3: Full application direct to university:
              Cambridge deadline - November 2024 to June 2025
              UCL deadline - November 2024 to June 2025

About the programme

We offer a 4-year post-graduate programme in Photonic and Electronic Systems which comprises a 1-year Master of Research (MRes) followed by a 3-year doctorate (PhD).

Visit the Programme page for more information about the programme. 

Why apply to this programme?

  • You will join a vibrant and diverse community of academics and graduate students.
  • Prepare for a career in photonics though this challenging, multi-disciplinary PhD training programme.
  • Gain expert knowledge in the area of photonic and electronic systems and the ability to seek optimal solutions to complex or multifaceted problems.
  • Develop project management, teamwork, communication and leadership skills.
  • Work with world-leading academics and industry partners in a rapidly expanding field of photonics research.
  • Diverse study, research and training opportunities including: industry networking events, outreach,  conferences, seminars and cross-departmental and cross-institutional research projects.
  • Funded students: receive a generous stipend, tax free, plus UK/EU fees paid for up to four years (conditions apply).

Who we are looking for

  • UK graduates who hold a first (1st) or upper-second class (good 2:1) Bachelor’s degree in a relevant science (e.g. physics, mathematics, natural sciences, geology, geographical science, social sciences, materials science) and/or engineering (e.g. chemical, civil, electronic, electrical, mechanical).
  • EU and overseas students with qualifications of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution.
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications or industry experience who can show evidence of a scientific and engineering research capability.

English language requirements

All students who are not nationals of a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration, must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programme.

How to apply

Step 1: Pre-application

Pre-application closing date: 31 May 2024

We recommend all candidates complete the Pre-Application Screening Form before submitting a full application.

This enables us to assess your suitability early in the recruitment process, before making a formal, full application. Candidates may express a preference for either university at this stage. 

Pre-applications are processed on an ongoing basis between November and the closing date.

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

APPLY HERE: Pre-Application Form

Step 2: Interview

Candidates who are shortlisted at pre-application stage are invited to interview. If successful at interview, you will be invited to make a full application to either UCL or University of Cambridge.

Step 3: Full formal application

Candidates who are successful at interview are invited to make a full application to either UCL or University of Cambridge. Consideration is given to the candidate's preferred university but the decision on which institution issues the invitation is decided by the Centre Directors. The course is identical at both institutions.

An application fee may be charged for formal applications.

APPLY HERE: UCL - formal application

APPLY HERE: University of Cambridge - formal application

Full application closing dates for 2024 entry: 
Cambridge - June 2024
UCL - June 2024

Step 4: formal offer & enrolment

For applicants who have submitted a pre-application, been successful at interview and are subsequently invited to make a full application, a formal offer decision will be made soon after the full application is submitted. Full applications that did not go through the pre-application may take longer to process. 

If successful applicants will receive an offer letter from the supervisor and a studentship offer letter from the Centre.

Applicants should sign and return both letters to accept the offer.

Once accepted, an official offer letter is sent by their university at which the student will be registered. 

The enrolment process usually begins at the end of September.

The programme starts with an induction week in late September or early October, held in both Cambridge and London.


The Centre has applied for a new funding award from 2024/25. We expect to learn the outcome of the bid in May 2024. Funding for studentships starting in 2024 are subject to the outcome of the bid.