Research degrees may be undertaken in the three main areas of research interest in the Laboratory. The growing number of academic staff are supported in their research by the technical staff and post-doctoral research fellows.
We make every attempt to allocate you to a supervisor directly in your field of interest, consistent with available funding and staff loading. When you apply, please give specific indications of your research interest – including, where appropriate, the member(s) of staff you wish to work with – and whether you are applying for a studentship or propose to be self-funded.
About The School of Physical Sciences
The School offers postgraduate students the opportunity to participate in ground-breaking science in the realms of physics, chemistry, forensics and astronomy. With strong international reputations, our staff provide plausible ideas, well-designed projects, research training and enthusiasm within a stimulating environment. Recent investment in modern laboratory equipment and computational facilities accelerates the research.
Our principal research covers a wide variety of topics, theoretical, experimental and applied – you can see a list of example topics on our available research projects page. We also offer taught programmes in Forensic Science, studied over one year full-time, and a two-year European-style Master’s in Physics (one year taught, one year research).
Think Kent video series
Dr Barry Blight, Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Kent, discusses the use of lanthanide phosphorescence to create a Turn OFF sensor for bacterial spores such as Bacillus Anthracis (used as the carrier for the Anthrax bioweapon).
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Physical Sciences was ranked 7th in the UK for research impact and a demonstration of its importance to industry and the public sector.
An impressive 98% of our chemistry research was judged to be of international quality, with 78% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
All programmes in the School of Physical Sciences equip you with the tools you need to conduct research, solve problems, communicate effectively and transfer skills to the workplace, which means our graduates are always in high demand. Our links with industry not only provide you with the opportunity to gain work experience during your degree, but also equip you with the general and specialist skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace.
Typical employment destinations for graduates from the physics programmes include power companies, aerospace, defence, optoelectronics and medical industries. Typical employment destinations for graduates from our forensic science and chemistry programmes include government agencies, consultancies, emergency services, laboratories, research or academia.
The University has good facilities for modern research in physical sciences. These include: NMR spectrometers; powder X-ray diffractometers; X-ray fluorescence; atomic absorption in flame and graphite furnace mode; gel-permeation, gas, analytical and preparative high-performance liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; scanning electron microscopy and EDX. We also have various microscopes, differential scanning calorimetry and thermal gravimetric analysis, dionex analysis of anions and automated CHN analysis. For planetary science impact studies, there is a two-stage light gas gun.
Much of the School’s work is interdisciplinary and we have successful collaborative projects with members of the Schools of Biosciences, Computing and Engineering and Digital Arts at Kent, as well as an extensive network of international collaborations.
National and international links
The School is a leading partner in the South East Physics Network (SEPnet), and benefits from £2.5 million of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The School has collaborations with universities around the world, particularly in Germany, France, Italy and the USA. UK links include King's College, London and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. Our industrial partners include BAE Systems, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Ophthalmic Technology Inc, Canada. We also have collaborations with NASA, European Southern Observatory (ESO) and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Nature; Science; Astrophysical Journal; Journal of Polymer Science; Journal of Materials Chemistry; and Applied Optics.
Researcher Development Programme
Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.
A first or second class honours degree in Physics or Chemistry. We will also consider applicants with degrees in computer science, electronics, biochemistry or other closely related disciplines.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Applied Optics Group (AOG)
The Group’s research focuses on optical sources, optical configurations and signal processing methods for optical measurements and imaging. The Group developed the first en-face OCT image of the eye and now works with national and international institutions to extend OCT capabilities. They also conduct research on coherence gated wavefront sensors and multiple path interferometry, as well as Fast Fourier transformations on graphics cards, supercontinuum sources and fast tunable lasers.
Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CAPS)
The group’s research spans observation, experimentation, simulation and modelling. The major topics are star formation, planetary science and early solar system bodies, galactic astronomy and astrobiology. The group uses data from the largest telescopes in the world and in space, such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the New Technology Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory. They also use our in-house facilities, including a two-stage light gas gun for impact studies.
Forensic Imaging Group (FIG)
The Group’s research has an applied focus. They explore mathematical and computational techniques and employ a wide variety of image processing and analysis methods for applications in many areas, including forensics and cyber security. The Group holds major grant funding from EPSRC. It has spawned a very successful spin-out company, Visionmetric Ltd, and was central to the School’s excellent REF 2014 rating for impact; placing the School equal 7th nationally in this category.
Functional Materials Group (FMG)
Research in the multi-disciplinary FMG encompasses the synthesis, characterisation, theory and computer modelling of cutting-edge materials. Researcher are interested in finding new optical, mechanical, electronic, magnetic or biological properties that challenge present understanding or can give rise to new innovative technologies. The Group is unique nationwide in that it integrates both physicists and chemists, and its research benefits from this exchange of ideas and expertise.
Staff research interests
Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Maria Alfredsson: Senior Lecturer in Theoretical Materials
Quantum-mechanical modelling of clusters, surfaces and solids; inter-atomic potential calculations of defects and grain-boundaries; high pressure and temperature simulations; H-bonding.Profile
Dr Donna Arnold: Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science
Synthesis and characterisation of bulk and nano structured novel multiferroics (materials which exhibit electric and magnetic ordering); enhancement of the ferroelectric and magnetic properties of bismuth ferrite through chemical doping.Profile
Dr Robert E Benfield: Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry
The structure and bonding of metal clusters and nanowires; ordered arrays of metal nanowires contained within mesoporous alumina membranes, and nanoparticles of cobalt.Profile
Dr Stefano C G Biagini: Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry
Ring-opening metathesis polymerisations; complex monomer syntheses; block copolymers, selfassembly, properties and applications; nuclear medicine; unnatural amino acid and peptide syntheses; radiolabelling; nanoparticles; surface modifications on silica magnetite.Profile
Dr Barry Blight: Lecturer in Chemistry / Forensic Science
The development of chiral porous solids that can transfer chiral information into enantioselective reactivity in catalytic transformations; inorganic photovoltaics (O-PVDs); employing supramolecular polymerisation with new photoactive hydrogen bonding synthons.Profile
Dr Anna Corrias: Reader in Chemistry
Preparation and characterisation of various materials: oxide glasses, amorphous alloys, nanocrystalline alloys, and nanocomposites consisting of metal or metal oxide nanoparticles embedded in a silica matrix.Profile
Professor Mark Green: Professor of Materials Chemistry; Head of School
Quantum materials and magnetism: functional material, magnetic materials, superconductors, synthesis, superconducting materials.Profile
Dr Simon Holder: Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry
Synthesis and application of novel polymeric materials; polymerisation of dichlorodiorganosilanes to improve the yields, allowing for the first time the high yield synthesis of a variety of polysilanes at ambient temperatures; synthesis by controlled polymerisations and application of novel copolymers; design and development of novel non-invasive polymer-based optical sensor systems.Profile
Dr Emma McCabe: Lecturer in Chemistry
Materials chemistry and focus on the synthesis; structural characterisation and physical properties of complex transition metal oxides and mixed anion systems; magnetism in solids; inorganic chemistry synthesis; structural characterisation and crystallography, driven by the structure-property relationship and understanding how changes in the composition and structure can be used to tune the physical properties of materials.Profile
Dr Dean Sayle: Reader in Chemistry
Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation to mirror experiment; ‘simulating synthesis’ at the atomistic level to generate models of nanomaterials spanning nanoparticles to mesoporous architectures, which are then interrogated to predict a variety of physical, chemical and mechanical properties and associated phenomenon.Profile
Dr Christopher Shepherd: Lecturer in Forensic Science
Ballistics with a particular emphasis on the application of modern techniques to interrogate the wounding potential of different projectiles on the human body for forensic applications.Profile
Professor Michael J Went: Professor of Chemistry and Forensic Science
Chemistry of co-ordinated alkynes; new chelating and macrocyclic ligands with phosphine, thioether and ether donor groups; synthesis of new radiopharmaceuticals; forensic analysis.Profile
Enquire or order a prospectus
- Download a prospectus (PDF)
- Download a Physical Sciences (School of Physical Sciences) subject leaflet (PDF)
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