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PhD in Engineering

Explore your passion for research within engineering through creativity and innovation.

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A PhD in Engineering allows you to delve deep into research which combines creativity, innovation and sustainability.

In the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology, we focus on diverse research themes, from groundbreaking discoveries to translational research. Collaborating with leading academics, you can hone your skills and gain an understanding of modern industrial practices.

Your research

As a postgraduate researcher, the focus of your work will be an independent research project. You will work with leading researchers, while gaining valuable skills through an integrated training programme in research methods.

You'll have access to advanced taught courses to help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to conduct your research.

Your research will culminate in a thesis and oral examination. Your thesis should effectively, clearly and concisely communicate the research question, methodology, results, analysis, and conclusions, with quality and depth appropriate for your PhD in Engineering degree.

Research projects

Our academics are working on a wide range of projects suitable for research students to join.



You will be supervised on a one-to-one basis by a member of academic staff. We also offer opportunities for co-supervision, within the School and across the wider University, to support interdisciplinary projects. Your supervisor will help guide your progress, supported by a thesis advisory panel.

Before applying, we encourage you to find out about our academics and get to know how their work and expertise fit your interests. Our academic staff are happy to answer any questions on their research interests or discuss a project you might have in mind.

Training and support

You'll collaborate with fellow researchers through seminars, workshops, and research group meetings where you can present your work, gaining insights and feedback from peers and staff. Collaborative opportunities exist both within and beyond the university, including partnerships with industry, broadening your research scope and perspectives.

You'll participate in our annual PhD conference typically held during the summer. This event provides hands-on experience in presenting your research, helping you develop effective communication skills crucial in today's engineering landscape.

You can enrol in researcher development courses and professional development courses to further enhance your skills and expertise. These opportunities aim to equip you with a well-rounded skill set to thrive in both academic and professional areas.

Previous students have had the opportunity to showcase their work at conferences both in the UK and internationally, as well as to publish in esteemed global journals.

Course location

Your primary base will be on Campus West. Most of your training and supervision meetings will take place here, though your research may take you further afield.

Full-time students are provided with dedicated desk spaces within the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology for the entirety of their programme.

We offer a distance learning (DL) option for the PhD programme if you cannot live in York full- or part-time. As part of the application process, we will ask for justification for taking the DL option and will then assess the feasibility of the work programme. The latter will be embodied in a plan of study outlining resources and facilities needed, training requirements and an associated timeline, which will need to be in place before being accepted onto the programme. Unless special arrangements can be agreed in advance, a research topic that requires specialised equipment and facilities may not be possible with the DL option.

Entry requirements

You should have, or be about to complete, the equivalent of a 2:1 honours degree or above in engineering, physics, computer science, mathematics or a closely related subject.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must provide evidence of your ability.

English language requirements


Apply for the PhD

Apply for the PhD (Distance Learning)

Advertised research projects

If you are applying for an advertised research project, please include the project name in your application. You should contact the project leader in advance, who may also ask you to submit a full research proposal.  Advertised research projects may be funded or self-funded, as indicated in the advert.

Find a project

Research proposals

Your research proposal needs to describe the nature of your proposed study and give some indication of how you will conduct your research. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that you and your potential supervisor(s) have matching research interests. The proposal should be 250 to 350 words in length. It must be in English, and be your own words.

If you are not applying for a particular research project, you should contact the member of the academic staff you wish to work with, who may provide you with a research/project outline.

Find a supervisor

Careers and skills

Your PhD opens doors to a multitude of career avenues, spanning academia, industry, and charitable sectors. The essential transferable skills cultivated during your research such as problem-solving, presentation, collaboration, and project management are highly sought after across various fields. 

Our dedicated career support team offers tailored assistance, including professional researcher development programs, career workshops, and personalised 1:1 sessions. Their guidance will aid in building your employability portfolio and engaging in activities that augment your skills, both within and beyond your research domain.

If you're interested in working with industries, talk to your supervisor about ways to explore collaborations. It can be beneficial to get involved in ongoing collaborations, short-term work placements, or internships while you're pursuing your PhD. Also, check with your research group about possible new industry partners.

Our support extends after graduation: alumni have access to careers advice, job vacancies, networking events and more.

Next steps

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Why York

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Graduate Research School

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.