Postgraduate research (PhD)
Our community has a strong commitment to conducting world-leading, innovative and interdisciplinary research, with numerous applications to the environment, healthcare, information and communications technology, industry and energy.
Our PhD students belong to one of five research groups. Each group is comprised of academic staff, post-doctoral researchers, and PhD students. Every 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 students are accepted for the PhD programme in our department from around 300 applicants.
Funding your PhD study
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 to apply for PhD study
All PhD students must hold both a Bachelors and a Master's degree.
If you are studying in the UK our requirement is:
- An integrated Master's (MEng) honours degree in electrical engineering or a related subject, passed at 2.1 or 1st,
- OR a Bachelor's (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, a Master's degree.
The guidance on international qualifications provides information on Imperial College's minimum entry requirements and grade equivalents.
You will need to meet the College's Higher 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 your application
General information on the application process is available on the College application guidance notes. As part of the application you will be asked to provide a Research statement, including an indication of potential supervisors.
Finding a potential supervisor
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.
It is not necessary 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.
Preparing your Research Statement and 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.
Please note: you will need to meet the College's Higher 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.
When to apply
Research studies can start four times a year:
- the start of Autumn term,
- the start of Spring term,
- April 1st,
- July 1st
Students who wish to be considered for scholarships:
- We recommend you apply for scholarships a year in advance of your start date. Applications are considered throughout the year, but as funding is competitive it is better to apply early.
- Applicants will be considered for all of the potential Imperial College funding opportunities available. If you are applying to be considered for a specific scholarship please check the deadlines and make sure that your application is submitted in time.
- Please note it may take up to 12 weeks to process your funding application before you will be notified of the outcome.
Students who do NOT not wish 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
- For an April start - apply by 30 November
- For July start - apply by 30 March
If you require a visa in order to study in the UK, you should give yourself extra time to receive ATAS clearance and the student visa.
If you have 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.
Submitting your application
Please submit your application through the College online application system. There is no application fee.
After you have applied
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. 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 Zoom.
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. The Registry team make a final check and process the decision and communicate the decision to you. Once this is done you will be able to check the decision on the admissions system.
You should expect to receive a decision on your application within 12 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.