Postgraduate research (PhD)
We are renowned for our research excellence. We were ranked top for research in the electrical and electronic engineering REF 2014 where 97% of our research was rated either 'world leading' or 'excellent'. We were required to demonstrate how our research since 1993 has produced impact in society, economy, industry, commerce and other domains. We submitted five case studies and our entire impact submission received the top rating of 4*; the only submission for electrical and electronic engineering to do so.
Our community has a strong commitment to conducting innovative research. Our primary scientific interest is fundamental research with numerous applications to the environment, healthcare, information and communications technology, industry and energy.
The Department's research is focused around seven thematic areas:
- high performance embedded systems
- defence and security
- intelligent and autonomous systems
- MEMS, sensors and devices
- big data
PhD students belong to one of five research groups. Each group is comprised of academic staff, post-doctoral researchers, and PhD students, and is supported by an administrator. Each research group has its own dedicated space within the Department.
A PhD typically takes 3-4 years to complete and gives you the opportunity to undertake a period of in-depth research in a specific topic, to uncover its background, and contribute new insights or develop innovative applications of known science.
Every year between 35-45 successful applicants are accepted for the PhD programme in our department from around 300 applicants.
We offer a wide variety of financial support to PhD students, including funding from research councils, research projects, industry, and teaching scholarships. More than 60% of our PhD students receive funding from either Imperial College scholarships, or Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering / EPSRC awards.
How can I apply for a PhD?
All PhD students must hold both a Bachelors and a Master's degree.
If you are studying in the UK our requirement is either an integrated masters (MEng) honours degree in electrical engineering or a related subject, passed at 2.1 or 1st, OR a bachelors (BEng) honours degree in electrical engineering or a related subject passed at 2.1 or 1st and a master's degree passed at Merit or higher.
If you are studying overseas the Department's minimum entry requirement is the equivalent of a UK 2.1 in both Bachelor's and Master's degrees. All applicants must have or be studying for Master's degree.
The guidance on international qualifications provides information on Imperial College's minimum entry requirements and on what grade is considered to be equivalent to an Upper Second class (2.1) UK degree.
You will need to meet the College's English language requirement.
You can apply for the course before your final degree result is known, and before you have met the English language requirement. Most applicants apply during the final year of their UK MEng degree, or while they are studying for their Master's degree.
Making an application
You are advised to familiarise yourself with the Department's areas of research. You might like to contact a potential supervisor before making your application to informally discuss research topics.
However, it is not neccessary to contact a supervisor before applying. Keep in mind that formal admissions decisions can only be made after the application has been processed by the College Registry and the Department.
Submitting your application
When you submit your application please:
- include a convincing research statement (2-3 pages) as a separate self-contained document. The research statement should describe a research problem or area that you are interested in, and your initial ideas on the research work towards solving the problem, referring to existing scientific literature where appropriate. You should highlight any relevant experience you have in this area or any relevant publications that can be downloaded. The research statement will be evaluated as part of the application process; it does not constitute a commitment to carry out the exact research you have described.
- make sure you have indicated the research group and/or potential supervisors under whom you would like to carry out PhD work.
- include a transcript showing the module marks for your studies so far.
- give your referee's university or company email address and not their personal one.
There is no application fee.
If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved by additional education, research and/or relevant work experience.
When to apply
Research studies can start at any time of year, although the majority of students start in either October or January. Applications for PhD can be made at any time of year.
If you are applying for a scholarship please check the deadlines and make sure that your application is submitted in time. The Departmental Awards Panel meets to consider EPSRC DTA and departmental funding from February onwards.
If you are do not want to be considered for Imperial College funding our recommended application dates are:
- for an October start - apply by 30 June
- for a January start - apply by 30 September
Once you have submitted your application for postgraduate study, you will be able to monitor the progress of your application via our Student e-Service. Within 10 working days of submitting your application you will receive an email containing a unique identify number called a CID. Please include this number in any emails you send us, and have it available if you ring us with any queries.
Your application is initially sent to the Engineering Admissions team in our Registry. They will assess your qualifications and then send your application to the Department. When the Department's admissions team receives your application we pass it on to the relevant research group, and send you an acknowledgement email.
Your application will be considered by the academic staff in the research group working in the area specified on your application. If you have given the name of a potential supervisor, it will be sent to them first; although other members of staff working in that area will also review your application. If you are short-listed for a place you will have an interview with your potential supervisor and one of their colleagues. This interview will take place either in person (if you are in London), by phone, or Skype.
Once the decision on your application has been made it is returned to the Department's admissions team. We check the decision and send it to the Registry admissions team. We will send you an email letting you know the decision. The Registry team make a final check and process the decision. Once this is done you will be able to check the decision on Student e-Service.
You should expect to receive a decision on your application within 8-10 weeks of the application arriving in the Department.
If you have have applied for PhD in two different departments your application is processed in parallel. It will be sent to both your first and second choices for consideration at the same time.
Circuits and Systems: VLSI circuits; FPGA and reconfigurable systems; high level synthesis; computer arithmetic; integrated neural microsystems; diabetes technology; lab-on-chip diagnostics; embedded/wearable medical devices; radio frequency electronics; sensor systems; memristor circuits.
Communications and Signal Processing: communication theory; wireless communications; super-resolution in sensor networks; biomedical imaging; signal processing on graphs; encryption for security over the cloud; statistical signal processing; big data; array signal processing; arrayed wireless communications; localization; tracking; MIMO radar.
Control and Power: vehicle control; power electronics; smart grids; power networks; renewable energy integration; wireless power transfer.
Intelligent Systems and Networks: assistive robotics; in-vehicle intelligent systems; smart routing; wireless communications for 5G; machine learning; extreme learning machines for big data; models of neural computation; neural simulation and data analysis for big data; deep learning for computer vision and natural language processing.
Optical and Semiconductor Devices: space micro-instruments; theory of terahertz micro- and nano-electronic devices; microwave, mm-wave (5G Mobile), terahertz and infrared technologies; acoustic power delivery; motion energy harvesting; flow energy harvesting.