Department of Engineering

Research study

Research study

Research programmes

There are two research programmes available within the Department of Engineering; the MPhil in Engineering and the PhD in Engineering.

MPhil in Engineering

This is a one-year full-time (or two years part-time) research course designed to provide further study and training in research. As a student registered for the MPhil in Engineering programme, you will spend the majority of your time undertaking research in one of the areas of current interest in the Department, under the supervision of an academic member of staff. In addition, you will study two taught modules chosen from over sixty offered in the Department. Modules consist of lectures and practical work, and each module involves about 80 hours of work. You will also participate in a researcher development programme. During the year, you will write your research up into a 15,000 word thesis, and then have an oral examination.

This general MPhil is very flexible, and can be tailored to suit your particular interests. You can browse current topics of research in the department and identify potential supervisors via the research pages of our website.You should state the name of the supervisor(s) that you wish to work with on your application form, and should also give at least an indication of the topic you wish to undertake research on, so that we can direct your application appropriately

Please note that we admit very few students each year onto the MPhil in Engineering. The MPhil is not a prerequisite for the PhD Degree so students wishing to undertake a PhD should apply directly for admission to the PhD programme. Applicants are strongly advised to identify a supervisor that they wish to work with and to contact them directly to discuss their research interests, in advance of submitting an application. Not all of our supervisors are able to accommodate MPhil projects, and applicants who have not already established contact with a supervisor before applying are unlikely to be admitted. Please note that successful applicants may be allocated to a different supervisor than the one(s) named on the application form.

Further information, including entrance requirements and how to apply, can be found on the online Course Directory.


PhD in Engineering

To obtain a PhD degree you must complete three years full-time training (or five years part-time) and carry out an original piece of research which makes a significant contribution to learning in one of the many research areas in the Department. At the same time, the Department expects that students will leave with the wider skills necessary to be successful in either an academic or a non-academic career. Research students are therefore expected to obtain an effective training in research and to broaden their background knowledge, as well as to undertake a novel research project. In their first year, students take a minimum of two taught modules from a wide range of courses offered by the Department. Modules consist of lectures and practical work, and each module involves about 80 hours of work. You will also participate in a researcher development programme during your first year, and you are expected engage in personal development opportunities throughout the PhD in order to develop important transferable skills.

As a research student working in the Department of Engineering, you will work most closely with your Supervisor, who is responsible for guiding your research and training. You can expect at least eight one hour-long individual meetings with your supervisor every calendar year, although it may be much more frequent. You will also have daily contact with the research group you are working within. In addition, you will be assigned an Adviser, who will take an active interest in your progress and be available to provide additional support and advice when needed.

All doctoral research takes place in University of Cambridge facilities. However, the Department and its supervisors have strong links to other institutions both in the UK and around the world. After their first year, students may therefore apply for permission to undertake research in other institutions for extended periods of time. There may also be opportunities to teach small groups of engineering undergraduates to widen your experience and gain valuable expertise in explaining engineering concepts.

At the end of your first year, you will write a 15,000 progress report on your research to date, and discuss your work with two assessors. Passing this assessment is a requirement to continue with the PhD beyond the first year. After completing three years of research, you will submit a 60,000 word thesis on your research and have an oral examination. The final deadline for submission of the thesis is four years after the start date (or seven years for part-time students), but we advise students to aim to submit by either the end of their tenth term, or the end of their funding, whichever is soonest.

The PhD in Engineering can be tailored to suit your particular interests. Applicants are strongly advised to identify a supervisor that they wish to work with and to contact them directly to discuss their research interests, in advance of submitting an application. You can browse current topics of research in the department and identify potential supervisors via the research pages of our website. You should state the name of the supervisor(s) that you wish to work with on your application form, and should also give at least an indication of the topic you wish to undertake research on, so that we can direct your application appropriately. Please note that successful applicants may be allocated to a different supervisor than the one(s) named on the application form.

Further information, including entrance requirements and how to apply, can be found on the online Course Directory.