We are now accepting applications for 2016-2017 entry.

Click here for details of how to apply.

Postgraduate study discount

Ten per cent discount on postgraduate courses for University of Southampton final-year students and alumni.

Find out more... 

Alternatively view our photonics PhD programme on-line.

Admissions Tutor

Dr Pier Sazio

Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3144


If you have any questions, or would like to receive a course information pack, please enquire here.

PhD Programme

Photonics has changed the world in many extraordinary ways, from powering the internet, navigating airliners, correcting vision and protecting the environment. 

Our world-leading research centre is a hive of activity with over 200 staff and students working on cutting-edge research to provide innovative solutions for real life problems in manufacturing, communication technology, defence, health care, renewable energy and the environment 

We are looking for the photonics pioneers of the future to join our vibrant research team and work alongside our world-class researchers to create some history. Our physics and materials science PhD programme offers a solid start to any career in optics and photonics, whether you are planning to stay in academia or work in industry. 

PhD degree in Photonics

Working alongside some of the world’s leading photonics, physics and advanced materials scientists, you will spend your time conducting novel research in our state-of-the-art facilities, keeping up to date with current research trends in photonics, physics, optics and advanced materials, writing journal papers and attending conferences.

Our students gain a solid grounding for their future careers in photonics, the key enabling technology for a host of industry sectors including: 

  • oil and gas
  • imaging
  • automotive
  • ICT
  • medicine and healthcare
  • metrology
  • defence and secruity
  • aerospace
  • energy
  • manufacturing and
  • telecommunications 

Our extensive training programme provides knowledge and skills through photonics lectures, skills training for report writing and presentation skills and full safety training for your research area. 

Download a copy of our training programme - Session 1

Download a copy of our training programme - Session 2

Download a copy of our training programme - Cleanroom

In addition we also offer plenty of opportunities for networking with fellow researchers and potential employers through attendance at national and international conferences throughout the PhD as well as internal industry and academic events. 

Structure of the PhD

All research students enrol initially for an MPhil, with conditional transfer to PhD on the successful completion of their transfer report and viva 16 months after the start of their studies. 

Duration of MPhil/PhD studies:  Full time: 2.5 - 4 years  /  Part time: 3 - 8 years



Our success as a research centre is closely linked to the success of our PhD programme. Consequently we take the welfare of our students very seriously and are willing to put aside time for every student. Your supervisor will meet you on a regular basis to see how your research is going and our dedicated student mentor will help to ensure that you are settling in.


PhD research projects

We have over 30 research groups working on a wide variety of physical science, optics and advanced materials research projects. Our supervisors are always on the lookout for new students to join their teams. A full list of the PhD projects available with our research groups can be found in the PhD project section of the website.


Entry Requirements

Students are required to have either a first or upper second class degree or equivalent in a relevant subject area from a recognised University - and a basic background in Mathematics.

Our work is multidisciplinary, so we are keen to get a diverse spread of students with science and engineering backgrounds. This includes the obvious subjects like Physics, Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Chemistry, with the less obvious such as Biology and Materials Development. The requirements may vary depending on your background and the projects that you may be working on.

Students whose first language is not English will need to complete an IELTS test. We require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0, with 5.5 in each component. For information on other accepted English language tests, please visit:



We want to invest in the photonics pioneers of the future by providing enhanced funding and paid tuition fees for our UK students.

All our fully funded places include paid tuition fees and a tax-free bursary to cover your living expenses. 

UK enhanced stipend: £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years

EU and international bursary: based on research council set stipend level.  In 2015 this was £14,057 tax free per annum for up to 3.5 years

For full details please visit the Funding your PhD section. 


How to apply

Applications for 2016-2017 entry are open from 1st October 2015; early application is advisable to avoid disappointment.

Due to the allocation of funding, applications from international candidates should be made by 31st March 2016. Please bear in mind that the competition and the funding for overseas ( i.e. non UK/EU) students in particular is extremely intense and scarce. Therefore it would be highly advantageous for you to seek external funding such as from your own government or other external funds, while you prepare your application.

UK applications are accepted throughout the year. Please apply online ensuring that you select Optoelectronics Research Centre under the Academic unit.


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