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, Coordinator of the Physics of Life group 

Current group structure

The group is one of the major Discovery Research Themes in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology, and comprises ~10 research teams across a broad remit of both experimental and theoretical Physics of Life research spanning multiple length and time scales. We have ~50 researchers spanning graduate students postdocs, fellows and faculty, with a broad range of expertise spanning the physical-life sciences interface, whose research involves both using physical science tools and concepts to address challenging biological questions and probing biological matter, and developing new physics and technologies inspired by biology. We are also the lead institution of the UK's URKI-funded Physics of Life network PoLNET chaired by Prof Mark Leake, comprising >1,000 members, and have a pivotal strategic influence over the development of the national Physics of Life community.

PhD opportunities

Our group is one of only a handful in the UK that has a critical mass of researchers in “Physics-led biophysics”. Exciting, challenging and fundamentally ground-breaking 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
  • Bio-inspired technologies
  • Biomedical engineering

Our research activities are supported from a core, dedicated building “Genesis 3” refurbished with £2M University investment that houses offices and laboratories enabling constructive co-location of all of our researchers, with satellite labs that extend into York's Nanocentre and Plasma Institute. We also have very strong ties to several other departments in the University, including access to invaluable advanced "wet" laboratory resources in Biology. Our work is enormously collegiate and collaborative, unpinned by regular group networking activities such as our weekly seminar series, journal and cake club, and termly engagement with cross-dept 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 - a truly unique and empowering graduate training experience with world-leading expert researchers.

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 the CMMP group.


Dr Stuart Cavill

Current group structure

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

PhD opportunities

PhD projects are available in each of our three key research areas: Spintronics and magnetism, Nanomaterials and Photonics. Our research spans experimental, theoretical and computational techniques and is supported by advanced facilities, both at York and internationally.

The scope of our work is broad. It ranges 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. Together we 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 School of Physics, Engineering, and Technology as well as through the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training.

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.

Powered By