Apply to become a student

Study at the cutting edge of photonic systems research.

EPSRC funding is available for eligible students.
See the FUNDING section below for details.

About the programme

We offer a 4-year PhD programme in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems. Before starting their 3-year PhD, students undertake a 1-year MRes course that allows them time to absorb the context of photonics research and to learn tools and methods that can support powerful, influential research.

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 extensive relevant 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

We welcome pre-applications between November and May for September intake.
Pre-applications have now closed for 2021 intake.

Before applying

We encourage prospective students to look at our research pages to identify the areas of research that interest them.

Step 1: Pre-application & interview

We recommend prospective students complete the Pre-Application Screening Form. This enables us to assess your suitability early in the recruitment process, before making a formal, full application. Candidates may express a preference for their preferred institution at this stage. 

Shortlisted candidates are invited to interview at either UCL or Cambridge. Overseas student may be interviewed via video call or telephone.

If successful at interview, candidates will be invited to make a full application. 

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

APPLY: Pre-Application Form

Pre-application closing dates: 
30 May - Cambridge   |   30 June - UCL

Step 2: Full application

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

Candidates may choose to go direct to a full application. Application fees may apply.

UCL - full application

Use the following UCL programme codes:
MRes programme: TMREENCEPE19 
PhD programme: RRDEENSING01

University of Cambridge - full application

Cambridge MRes only

Cambridge MRes+ PhD

Full application closing dates: 
30 June - Cambridge   |   30 July - UCL

Step 3: formal offer & enrolment

For applicants who are invited to make a full application a formal offer decision is made soon after the application is submitted. Direct 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.


EPSRC funded studentships are available for candidates who meet the eligibility criteria. Funding will cover UK/Home fees and provide a stipend (which is variable depending on location).  Funding will normally be for four years (MRes+PhD) but will be dependent upon the successful completion of the MRes programme, identifying suitable PhD supervision and upgrade from MPhil to PhD.

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

Eligibility for EPSRC funding:

  • UK home student - To be classed as a home student, candidates must be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or have settled status, or have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or have indefinite leave to remain. Home students are eligible for funding of home fees and stipend. Candidates who do not meet this criteria would be classed as an International student.
  • International applicants - starting in 2021/22 academic year applicants from EU, EEA and overseas are eligible to be considered for EPSRC funding of home fees and stipend. Note: this does not cover the difference between home and overseas fee rates and does not apply to students who commenced prior to 2021/22 academic year.

Note for EU/EEA students

The UK’s exit from the EU took place on 31 January 2020. EU and EEA students starting this course in 2021/22 academic year will become international students and liable for international fees. 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.

For further information on eligibility please see the EPSRC website.