Applying for a PhD in Design Engineering
All applications to the Design Engineering PhD Programme are made online via the Imperial College Application System. Please see below for a step-by-step guide on what you need to do to apply.
- Check the entry requirements below to ensure you meet the minimum entry criteria for research.
- You need to determine a potential supervisor before submitting an application. Please see here for our current academic and teaching staff to identify topics of interest and an appropriate supervisor in the department.
- Contact your proposed supervisor to devise and discuss your potential PhD project. You can find their contact email address in their profile on the academic and teaching staff page.
- Consider how you will fund your PhD - both tuition fees and living costs. You can find information on the College's tuition fees here, and information on scholarships available here. Please also consult the 'Funding your PhD page' here for more information.
- Make your official PhD application via the Application system. Make sure you state your chosen topic and supervisor(s) on the form and details of any department/College funding you may be applying for, as well as attaching all necessary documents. Please note that we do not accept applications that do not detail a proposed supervisor or a research topic. Once submitted, you can monitor the status of your application in the portal.
- If successful, your proposed supervisor will contact you to arrange an interview. Following the interview, your proposed supervisor will inform you whether they would like to offer you a PhD position and/or nominate you for funding (if appropriate).
PhD applications can be made all year-round. However, we encourage you to apply as early as possible. Specific application deadlines apply if applicants would like to be considered for certain scholarships. Such deadlines are driven by the funding requirements. Please refer to the application deadlines highlighted on the Imperial College Scholarship page for full details.
For general information about joining us to do PhD research, please refer to the online postgraduate prospectus.
Additional Information for the Application Process
Design Engineering requires higher than the minimum Imperial College entry requirements; our PhD applicants are expected to have a First Class (Distinction) Degree or equivalent at Masters level in a relevant engineering, design or scientific discipline. In exceptional cases where extensive research/industry experience can be demonstrated, candidates with a UK-equivalent of 2:1 (Merit) at Masters level can be considered.
As part of the application process applicants will need to show that they have met the College’s English-language requirements. Details can be found here.
Candidates with study up to Bachelors degree level will not normally be considered without evidence of significant industrial, research, or field experience. However, they are welcome to apply for our Master's Degrees, Innovation Design Engineering and Global Innovation Design.
If your undergraduate and/or master's qualifications are from overseas institutions, please see here for information on international grade equivalencies and how they relate to the Imperial College entry requirements.
If you are applying to the PhD Programme as an overseas student, there are a number of additional requirements you may need to fulfil as part of the application process:
- Meeting the College's English language requirements.
- Securing a tier 4 student visa to study in the UK.
- Most nationals who require immigration permission to be in the UK and intend to study an Engineering PhD will require ATAS clearance. Further information on this is available here. Please note that nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are NOT required to have ATAS clearance (as of 5th October 2020).
Submitting your Application
You should apply online using the College's application portal. Please keep in mind the following:
- Enter ‘Design Engineering Research’ in the programme title field on the application form
- Start your application as early as possible
- Many studentships have application deadlines well ahead of your planned start date
- Sponsors will be more impressed if you can show you already meet our requirements
As part of the application, you will need to upload the following supporting documents:
- Degree transcripts
- 2 references
- Evidence of your English language qualifications (where applicable)
- Your CV
- A short personal statement and/or a research proposal (maximum 1-2 pages)
The main thing to keep in mind is to answer the following questions:
- What is your motivation to undertake a PhD and why now?
- Why Imperial and why Design Engineering? Why this particular research team?
- What is your research question or what is the area you are interested in? What is the need/gap for this research?
Preparing for Interviews
All applicants must be interviewed before a formal offer of admission can be made. This interview will be conducted by at least 2 members of academic staff; on occasions the Director of Postgraduate Research or the Head of Department may be present. The interview should be carried out in English.
Normally, interviews are carried out face-to-face. If it is not feasible for the candidate to meet with the potential supervisor – for instance if they are an overseas applicant – candidates may be interviewed by phone or via Teams/Zoom. Due to Covid-19, all interviews are currently being held remotely.
You are requested to prepare an appox 20-minute (maximum) PowerPoint presentation that should include the following items.
- Highlights of your CV: Academic performance, skills, achievements, etc.
- Description of your undergraduate project.
- Description of your MSc project or equivalent.
- Description of any advanced project (for candidates with industrial experience).
- Highlight skills of particular relevance to your PhD topic.
Funding your PhD
The application form will request information on how you plan to fund your PhD, and this will be considered in appraising the strength of your application. Applications to the College's President's Scholarship Scheme are made in the form.
It is important to consider the deadline dates of scholarship schemes when applying for to the PhD programme. Scholarship applications can take some time, and it is therefore best to apply in good time in order to secure funding.