Apply to become a student

Study at the cutting edge of photonic systems research.

Funded studentships are available for UK residents.
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 or upper-second class (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

Before applying

We encourage prospective students to identify the areas of research that interest them and contact potential supervisors directly to discuss this before applying.

Ahead of submitting an application prospective students should:

  • look at our research pages to identify areas of interest.
  • contact potential supervisors to discuss their interests.

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.

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. Please note, fees apply to full applications (£65 administration fee to make a full application to University of Cambridge, no application fee for UCL).

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.


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

We have funding available for UK and EU students eligible for EPSRC awards for students to start in September each year.

Eligibility for EPSRC funding:

  • UK Nationals - UK applicants that have settled status(i) in the UK and have studied or worked in the UK for the past 3 years are eligible for full fees and stipend.
  • EU Nationals - Non-UK EU applicants that have settled status(i) in the UK and have studied or worked in the UK for the past 3 years are eligible for full fees and stipend.(ii)
  • Non-EU Nationals - Non-EU applicants that have settled status* in the UK and have worked in the UK (this does not include full time education) for the past 3 years are eligible for full fees and stipend.(iii)

(i) This means you have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
(ii) EU applicants that do not meet the 3 year residency criteria are eligible for fees only support.
(iii) Applicants that do not have settled status may in some cases apply for general UCL/Cambridge overseas scholarships or self-fund their PhD. For more information see links to search for funding on the homepage.

Please note we are unable to answer queries on academic suitability or funding eligibility prior to application due to the high volume of queries we receive. For further information on eligibility please see the EPSRC website.