Applications for October 2023 entry are now open. They should be made online via the Postgraduate Prospectus. Answers to frequently asked questions about the application process can also be found via this link. You are strongly encouraged to contact our staff members to discuss potential projects before making your application.

Notes for Postgraduate Applicants

The Group

Academics: Professor Sergey Lebedev, Professor Simon Bland, Professor Jerry Chittenden, Dr Robert Kingham, Professor Roland Smith, Professor Stuart Mangles, Professor Zulfikar Najmudin, Professor Steve Rose, Dr William Proud, Dr Grigory Kagan, Dr Ellie Tubman.

Where we work

Our offices are in the Blackett Laboratory, Prince Consort Road (behind the Albert Hall), and Z pinch experiments are housed in the basement whilst much of our laser experimental work takes place at the Central Laser Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (in Oxfordshire). Many students also travel abroad for conferences, workshops, collaborations and experiments.


We accept several postgraduate students per year.  Normally the start date is in October, to coincide with the PG lecture course which runs throughout the first year. However, under special circumstances entry can be delayed.

What you need

Qualification: (normally) Good physics degree (1st or 2(i) of 65% or over) or MSc.

Useful background:

  • Experimenters - electronics, optics, mechanical design, data analysis, research laboratory experience.
  • Theorists - maths, computer modelling and simulation.


The group has a variety of funding sources available for new postgraduates, including the following:

EPSRC quota studentships: fees and maintenance EPSRC eligibility criteria apply*. 

EPSRC CASE studentships: fees and maintenance with support from an outside sponsor. EPSRC eligibility criteria apply*. 

STFC quota studentships (JAI Accelerator portions only): fees and maintenance *UKRI eligibility criteria apply*

*UK/home students (i.e. resident in the UK for the previous >3 years) - fully funded.
EU students - fees only.
Overseas students - not eligible.

Contracts: We can sometimes negotiate full or partial funding via a contract with outside institutions. 

Overseas applicants: Non-EU citizens considering self-funding should be aware that their fees will be much higher than those for UK/EU students, which in general the group cannot cover.
Exceptional foreign students (typically those in the top three of their academic year group), however, may be eligible for scholarships such as the President's PhD Scholarship Scheme.  Please contact us if you think this could apply to you.

The Course

The PhD course lasts for three years or three and a half years.

The first year involves undertaking a compulsory course in Plasma Physics, which include weekly Postgraduate Plasma Physics lectures.  (Previous years have also taken part in a week long residential course, but the format of this is uncertain for 2020 due to Covid-19)  You will transfer from a MPhil to a DPhil after 9 months by completing a transfer report, and giving a group presentation.  Further progress review meetings are helf after 18 and 36 months.

Students are expected to submit the thesis after 36 months and in a maximum of four years.

Oxford-Imperial-Warwick Centre for Postgraduate Training in Plasma Physics and High Energy Density Science

Started 2014, we have teamed up with partner research groups at Warwick University (Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics (CFSA)) and Oxford University to provide an enhanced training programme for our PhD students that covers the full breadth of Plasma Physics, including astrophysical plasmas, computational plasma physics, dusty plasmas, high energy density plasmas, inertial confinement fusion, laser-plasma accelerators, laser-plasma interactions, magnetic confinement fusion, space plasmas, and Z-pinches.  The Postgraduate course taken in the 1st year will be run in conjunction with our partners.  The programme will enhance access to international experts in each group and open up possibilities for collaborative research later on in your PhD.

Links to our partner research groups:

Note that due to the coronavirus situation, it is unclear if the School will be run in 2020.

What you gain

Job prospects: Our ex-students have been employed in universities and research laboratories worldwide, including:

  • UK - Culham, JET, RAL, AWE, Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, York, Queen's Belfast, St. Andrews.
  • Europe - DESY, ELI, Jena, IPP Garching, Pisa, Ecole Polytechnique, CERN, Lisbon.
  • USA - Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Labs, LLE Rochester, Princeton, Cornell, MIT.
  • Other research facilities around the world - PUC (Chile), Singapore, Japan, Pakistan, India.

Students who move on from physics have taken employment in the oil industry, instrument manufacture, Meteorological Office, financial service industry, data analysis, etc.


How to apply pages for Physics at Imperial.

For general postgraduate enquiries in the Physics Department: Ms Loli Sanchez (Tel: +44 (0)207 594 7512)

For further information about PhD places in the Plasma Physics Group contact the Group administration office