Postgraduate study

Condensed Matter PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Condensed Matter

This group incorporates molecular and optical physics, and covers a world of applications, from computational materials physics to quantum ordering to soft matter physics.

Condensed matter physics overlaps considerably with materials science, as well as biological and earth sciences, and relies on fundamental developments in statistical physics and novel simulation methodologies.

Our research is concerned with the study of liquids and solids, and ‘viscoelastic’ materials (such as polymers and suspensions) with properties in between. We aim to discover and characterise the behaviour of these materials in the laboratory, and understand such behaviour in terms of the microscopic constituents.

Experimentally, the determination of structure and the characterisation of static and dynamic optical, electrical, magnetic, mechanical and other properties under ambient and extreme conditions call upon a wide range of tools.

You’ll have access to the resources of some of the top facilities in Europe and the UK.

The Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy, Micromanipulation and Imaging Centre (COSMIC) is a cross-disciplinary centre for optical characterisation, control and imaging of complex materials, and offers world-class equipment and a far-reaching research network.

We host the UK Centre for Astrobiology, where the responses of molecules to life in extreme environments – including the space environment – are studied. The Centre also simulates extraterrestrial environments, and maintains a subsurface biology laboratory 1.5 kilometres underground at the Boulby Mine in Yorkshire.

Our studies of the structure and properties of materials at extremes of pressure and temperature take place within the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, which hosts internationally leading facilities for sample preparation, characterization, and static and dynamic structure determination.

Among the powerful resources accessed by our computer simulators and theorists is an 800 teraflop IBM BG-Q supercomputer hosted by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC). We also have access to Eddie, the University’s 2500+ core multipurpose machine.

Condensed matter theorists are full participants in the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, which organises colloquia workshops and other events, many related directly to condensed matter.

You will have access to the resources of some of the top facilities in Europe and the UK. COSMIC is a cross-disciplinary centre for optical characterisation, control and imaging of complex materials, which offers world-class equipment and a far-reaching research network.

We host the UK Centre for Astrobiology, where scientists study the responses of molecules to life in extreme environments – including the space environment. The Centre also simulates extraterrestrial environments, and maintains a subsurface biology laboratory 1.5km underground at the Boulby Mine in Yorkshire.

Our ability to probe the structures and properties of materials at extremes of pressure and temperature has been boosted by the creation of the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions. Wet labs are available for work at biological hazard containment level 1, and upgradeable to containment level 2.

Among the powerful resources accessed by our computer simulators and theorists is a 5 teraflop IBM BlueGene supercomputer hosted by the EPCC. We are also participants in EPSRC’s ‘RealityGrid’ e-Science Testbed Project (part of a national initiative in grid Computing).

Our graduates have pursued highly diverse and successful careers in academia and industry.

PhD: A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in physics or a related discipline.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE Academic: total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDPhysics3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Physics & Astronomy
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JZ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Physics & Astronomy
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building
  • Peter Guthrie Tait Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JZ