Research (PhD) in Mathematics
The Department of Mathematics has a large and active body of PhD students, with a rich and extensive culture of collaboration between other departments and institutions.
We offer a dynamic research environment, with a varied and active program of seminars, workshops and courses. The research environment in the Department received the top score in the most recent government Research Excellence Framework (REF).
We have excellent computing facilities in the Department; all PhD students are offered a subsidised laptop for their work, together with the appropriate software.
The College’s central Library, housed 5 minutes walk from the Department, provides access to over 34,000 online journal titles (accessible both on and off campus) as well as a number of print journal titles. There is also an extensive collection of research monographs and textbooks (both in print and e-book format).
We offer a diverse social programme for PhD students. The Department and external partners subsidise various social events organised by the students: monthly social events (ranging from movie nights, to outdoors trips), the annual student party in December, the summer BBQ and competitions at the annual PG Forum, with generous cash prizes.
PhD students also have the opportunity to assist lecturers with teaching and marking in our undergraduate programme.
Mathematics PhD Opportunities
The Department offers a wide range of PhD opportunities which cover the full range of Mathematics-related fields. Research in the Department of Mathematics is managed in four Sections:
We work in close partnership with EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training; many of these students get incorporated into the Department of Mathematics from their second year onwards. Please visit the CDTs pages for information about their application processes:
- CDT in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (No new applicants for academic year 2019/20)
- CDT in London School of Geometry and Number Theory
- CDT in Fluid Dynamics across Scales
- CDT in Financial Computing & Analytics (No new applicants for academic year 2019/20)
- CDT in Modern Statistics and Statistical Machine Learning at Imperial and Oxford
- CDT in Mathematics of Random Systems
The Department also supports the CDT for Theory and Simulation of Materials.
Modern materials often require modern techniques, such as density functional theory, field theory and renormalisation group methods applied to differential equations, to describe and predict their properties. Many applied problems can be very challenging, even at the lowest level of approximation, and need a significant amount of computational and numerical effort.
PhD Programme Structure
The standard route of our PhD programme is full time (3-4 years).
PhD research may also be done on a part time basis in exceptional cases (5-6 years). Upon admission, part-time PhD students should commit to attending the College (typically one day per week) and meeting their supervisor regularly (once or twice a month).
The structure of the PhD programme in the Department is designed to give students a smooth transition from course-based study towards independent research. Students need to complete the following ‘milestones’ to demonstrate that their work is progressing well:
Submit a short research plan within 3 months of starting, summarising the problem they have been set, and their proposed plan to work on it.
- Within 9 months of starting (18 for part-time), students must write a report summarising their first year’s work, and the courses they have taken. There is a short oral examination to assess this.
- Between 18 and 24 months of starting (36-48 for part-time), students must write a report describing the progress they have made so far, and their work plan for completing the thesis. Again this is assessed with a short oral examination.
The aim is to catch problems early, to confirm that students are able to write about and explain their work clearly and concisely, and to build up students’ writing and presentation skills, ensuring that on completion of their research, they will be able to write up and defend their thesis.
In the first two years students should also satisfy 100 hours of postgraduate courses requirement in their research topic and related areas. These courses can be workshops and conferences, as well as postgraduate-level lectures in many areas of Mathematics:
- Lectures in Pure and Applied Mathematics from the Taught Course Centre, accessed live through the Department grid node, shared with other nodes of in Oxford, Warwick, Bath and Bristol
- The Statistics section similarly participates in the London Taught Course Centre, given at De Morgan House in central London
- Advanced courses in mathematical finance, primarily but not exclusively for first-year PhD students in the various groups. These courses are managed by the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance, a consortium of the mathematical finance groups of Birkbeck College, Brunel University, Cass Business School, Imperial College, King's College, LSE and UCL
- Courses from MAGIC group, a partnership of 20 UK universities, which runs a wide range of postgraduate-level lecture courses in mathematics, using IOCOM's Visimeet Video Conferencing technology
As well as Mathematics courses, students should also take a selection of Professional Skills courses, offered by the Graduate School. This wide-ranging programme covers topics such as scientific writing, presentation skills, and presentation skills as well as an extensive programme of lectures on careers.
Please visit the PhD Progression Milestones guidelines for a complete picture of the programme.
PhD Admissions Co-ordinators
- 190 students
- 94% on scholarships
- 97% full time
- 20% women
- 220 applications
- 30-40 admitted