Physics research projects

We have many exciting PhD projects on offer. New opportunities come up all the time.

Some projects are funded by research councils, charities and industry. Others are suitable for self-funding students, or those with other sources of funding.

If you are applying for an advertised research project which gives full details of the project, you do not need to submit a research proposal. You may wish to contact the supervisor directly to discuss your interest in the project. You should indicate which research project(s) you are interested in when you apply.

Find out more about our Physics of Life group.


Professor Mark Leake 

Current group structure

The group comprises ~10 research teams across a broad remit of both experimental and theoretical Physics of Life spanning multiple length and time scales. We have ~40 researchers spanning graduate students postdocs, fellows and faculty.

PhD opportunities

Our group is one of only a handful in the UK that has a critical mass of researchers in “Physics-led biophysics”. We also form the focus of the Physics of Life network PoLNET in the UK that coordinates activities nationally for over 800 researchers in the area of the Physics of Life.

PhD projects are available in both experiment and theory, spanning areas of basic science through to technological development and impact on society. They span the following key areas:

  • Biological Nanosystems
  • Nano and Biomaterials
  • Theoretical soft-matter biological physics
  • Single-molecule biophysics
  • Next generation biosensing
  • Next generation optical microscopy
  • Molecular dynamics simulations

Our research activities are supported by a dedicated building “Genesis 3” refurbished with £2M University investment that houses offices and laboratories enabling constructive co-location of all of our researchers. We also have strong ties to several other departments in the University, including access to valuable laboratory resources in Biology. Our work is enormously collegiate and collaborative, unpinned by regular group networking activities such as our weekly seminar series and termly engagement with symposia of the Biological Physical Interdisciplinary Sciences network (BPSInet) that comprises over 200 researchers from multiple departments across the University of York. These wealth of community activities add enormous value to your PhD.

Find out more about our Nuclear Physics group.


Professor David Jenkins 

Current group structure

The group currently has over 30 PhD students, with a significant fraction of international students.

PhD opportunities

The largest Nuclear Physics group in the UK, offering PhD programmes under a wide range of different topics.

PhD projects are available in nuclear structure both experiment and theory, nuclear astrophysics - the origin of the chemical elements and hadron physics - the substructure of the nucleon.

Our experimental programme is carried out at leading laboratories worldwide including CERN, Jefferson Lab and FRIB in the United States, TRIUMF in Canada, RIKEN in Japan and many other laboratories across Europe and the wider world.

In addition to our pure science programme, the group is active in nuclear applications with a strong emphasis on detector development. The applications range from industrial/societal areas such as nuclear decommissioning and nuclear security, to medical imaging.

Find out more about our Condensed Matter Physics group and The Quantum Hub.


Professor Keith McKenna 

Current group structure

The group consists of approximately 70 academics, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students and is organised around four key research themes: Spintronics and magnetism, Quantum science, Nanomaterials and Photonics.

PhD opportunities

PhD projects are available in each of our four key research areas: Spintronics and magnetism, Quantum science, Nanomaterials and Photonics. We also lead the UK’s Quantum Communications Hub with further opportunities for postgraduate study.

Our research spans experimental, theoretical and computational techniques and is supported by state-of-the-art facilities, both at York and internationally.

The scope of our work is broad - from materials design and theoretical modelling to materials synthesis and device fabrication - with a special focus on nanoscale characterisation.

Much of our research is highly collaborative, bringing together expertise from across the university and the world to tackle challenging research problems of both fundamental interest as well as societal and technological importance.

Find out more about the York Plasma Institute.


Dr David Dickinson 

Current group structure

The group consists of over 70 academics, post-doctoral researchers and PhD students. Our work is broadly arranged around three strands; Magnetic confinement fusion, Matter at the extremes and Low temperature plasmas. Research projects can often span more than one strand.

PhD opportunities

The plasma science and technology research activities at the York Plasma Institute fall primarily into three main areas; Magnetic confinement fusion, Matter at the extremes and Low-temperature plasmas, and is underpinned by the three pillars of plasma research - experiment, numerical computation and theory. PhD Projects are offered directly through the Department of Physics (3 year programme) as well as through the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training (4 year programme).

We have close relationships with a number of international facilities and industry partners. We also support our projects through local state-of-the-art facilities that have been purpose-built for our research and teaching.

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