Slides presented at our PHOT Open Day 2022.

Each year the Photonics Group recruits up to ten new PhD students.  Most are funded by studentships from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences ResearchCouncil (EPSRC) and these are normally restricted to UK residents.  Students from the EU and overseas students will normally be required to pay annual tuition fees as well as to fund their own living costs. We suggest a minimum of £15,000 per annum for food, accommodation etc. National governments and international scholarship organisations may provide assistance with tuition fees and living costs. For further information about possible sources of funding please visit our Scholarships page.

All PhD students who do not already have a relevant Masters level degree are required to complete the MRes in Photonics before progressing to the PhD degree, such that the MRes constitutes the first year of a four year postgraduate training programme (i.e. 1 year MRes + 3 years PhD).  The MRes course lasts 12 months and entails a term of lectures in optics and photonics (alongside the MSc in Optics and Photonics) followed by selected specialist lecture courses and a 9 month research project (January-September) with the prospective PhD supervisors. This project is intended to provide an introduction to the proposed PhD project, providing the student with the research skills and background knowledge required for the PhD project. 

Students are required to pass the MRes degree course before being eligible to proceed to the PhD. Progression to the PhD is expected but not automatic. Students are then expected to submit their PhD thesis within this three year period. EPSRC-sponsored students will be funded for all four years of this postgraduate training.  Self-funded and externally funded students are also required to study for the MRes+PhD degrees and should budget accordingly for four years of study.  Only if an applicant has already been awarded a relevant MSc or MRes degree in optics or photonics, is it possible to enter the PhD programme directly.

Please clearly specify on your application form whether you are applying for:

F3U6B Photonics: 1 year MRes + 3 years PhD course
F3ZP Physics Research: This is the basic code for the Physics PhD courses, so please specify Photonics as the Proposed Research Group in the application form)

Centres of Doctoral Training (CDT)

In addition to the Photonics MRes+PhD programme, Photonics Group staff also supervise interdisciplinary MRes+PhD students under the auspices of several Centres of Doctoral Training funded by the EPSRC. This type of programme trains students in cohorts addressing a particular field of reserach and also comprises a one year Masters course followed by a 3 year PhD.  EPSRC CDT have proved very successful, providing an excellent opportunity for physical science graduates to develop their potential for research, including at the physical/life sciences interface. Studet5nships are normally awarded to UK residents although a small number of studentships may be awarded to EU students.  Photonics Group staff are involved with the following CDT and potential applicants are encouraged to go to the specific CDT websites to find more information.

Imperial is also co-ordinating NexGenAgriChem, an EU funded Innovative Doctoral Programme (IDP) for which 3 year PhD studentships are available for non-UK residents (i.e. students from the EU or overseas).  This IDP aims to train a cohort of multidisciplinary scientists who will underpin the development of novel tools and technologies to provide molecular
insight into the mode of action of agrichemicals.


Further information

Entry qualifications

The majority of our PhD students have an honours Bachelor degree and a Masters’ level degree or equivalent.  To be eligible for a Research Council studentship, you should have at least an upper second class honours (2:1) or equivalent degree, typically in Physics although degrees in other physical sciences or engineering disciplines would be considered.  We broadly apply this requirement to all PhD applicants including self-funded students.  In exceptional cases, if you have an MSc or similar qualification, or if you can demonstrate several years’ relevant work experience and provide strong references, then we may consider applications from candidates who have not achieved a 2:1 degree.

When to apply

A PhD can start at any time of year although the majority of PhD students will first study for the MRes degree, which will begin in October at the start of the academic year.  For DTP studentships, we aim to make offers to suitable candidates by March and most successful PhD applications are received before then.  We therefore recommend that interested applicants apply to study for a PhD with us as soon as possible in the academic year.  We note, however, that funding opportunities do arise later in the year when many applicants have settled their PhD arrangements and we encourage anyone interested at any time in the year to submit a prompt application. Click here for further information.

Please clearly specify on your application form whether you are applying for:

F3U6B Photonics: 1 year MRes + 3 years PhD course
F3ZP Physics Research: This is the basic code for the Physics PhD courses, so please specify Photonics as the Proposed Research Group in the application form)

How to Apply

General information relating to applying to Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research programmes can be found here. For information relating to applying as a visiting (non-degree) student or to one of our summer school programmes please visit our specific webpages on these schemes.

All enquiries should be initially directed to Marcia Salviato, our Deputy Optics Administrator, who can also help you with the application process.

Before candidates can be considered, a formal application must be made via the Imperial College London website.  Applicants may find it useful, however, to contact potential PhD supervisors directly to find out more about these opportunities or to explore other possible projects.

Fees and Funding

Current tuition fees.

Each year the Photonics group expects to offer several Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) DTP studentships. Other possible funded studentships include project studentships supported by a Research Council or a Technology Strategy Board (TSB) grant, by a company or by an EU project. More information on scholarships.

RCUK Studentships

For UK students, these pay the tuition fees and provide a stipend. EU students may also be supported by these studentships but usually only on a fees-only basis, i.e. they will not receive a stipend. For more information, please the relevant guidance on each research council website, most commonly EPSRC and BBSRC.

CASE PhD Studentships

In some cases a UK Research Council studentship may be converted to a CASE studentship or a company can offer an Industrial CASE studentship in partnership with a university. A CASE PhD student is expected to spend up to 6 weeks per year working at the sponsoring company’s site and their project will be in an area of interest to the company. In some cases the CASE student’s stipend can be increased compared to the normal award. For more information, please check the BBSRC or EPSRC websites ( or

Company-Sponsored Studentships

The conditions associated with these studentships will vary with each case but, in general, they are not necessarily restricted to UK or EU students.  Accepting overseas students to these studentships will incur the overseas student fees rate and so increase the cost of sponsoring the PhD student.

Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship in Optical Design

The Scholarship is to be awarded to a student of optical design, where the term 'optical design' is meant to include both lens design and illumination design. For more information, please see

Other Studentships and Scholarships

There are a small number of PhD scholarships available to overseas applicants from Imperial College London and other UK sources.  In addition, many national governments have their own programmes to support PhD students studying abroad. Further information about other possible sources of funding can be found using our Scholarships search tool or at Non-Imperial Scholarships.