Physics - PhD

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Gain advanced training under the supervision of leading experts and participate in innovative research in physics and astrophysics. The School of Physics and Astronomy's main research interests focus on the physics of quantum materials, applied optics, astrophysics and planetary science.


Our research degrees are based around laboratory and computational research projects. PhD study involves a 3-4 year research project on a full-time basis, or 5-6 years part-time. In all our research degrees you undertake a single, focused, research project from day one, and attend components of our transferable skills modules. You are supervised by a team which comprises your main supervisor(s) as well as supervisory chairs that give independent advice on progression.

Physics and Astronomy at Kent has seen an increase in its Grade Point Average (GPA) to 3.06 in the Research Excellent Framework (REF) 2021. 93% of our outputs are classed as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' (4* and 3*).

Reasons to study Physics at Kent

Funded PhD studentships

The School’s latest PhD opportunities are announced throughout the year and can be found on the FindAPhD website or through the University of Kent scholarship finder.

Self-funded applicants

If you have private or other funding you are welcome to apply for a PhD at any time, provided that your research interests are in line with the interests and capabilities of one of our research groups. In order to apply, you need to complete the following steps:

  • Identify an academic member of staff who you would like to act as a potential supervisor
  • Contact the potential supervisor directly by email to discuss the possibility of undertaking a PhD under their supervision. Please outline your interest in the research, supply a CV including details of all relevant experience and details of how you will fund your study.
  • Make an online application to study (click 'Apply now').

Entry requirements

A first or upper second class honours degree in Physics or Chemistry.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

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.


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Course structure

Duration: PhD 3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time


The 2024/25 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time TBC
  • EU full-time £22700
  • International full-time £22700
  • Home part-time TBC
  • EU part-time £11350
  • International part-time £11350

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Additional research fees

Please note that, due to the technical requirements of certain laboratory-based research projects, some projects incur additional research costs to support consumable requirements.


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships


Research areas

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a dynamic research community, producing innovative and interdisciplinary research. Our work has application in many industries, including medical imaging, quantum computing technologies and security. Take a closer look at our range of specialist research centres and groups:


All programmes 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.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The University has top-class facilities for physics and astronomy research, including:

  • high-velocity light-gas gun and impact laboratory
  • Beacon Observatory with optical telescope
  • high-performance computers for astronomical image processing and modelling the properties of materials
  • Kent Astrochemistry and Simulation Facility (KASF)
  • Photonics Centre and clear air suite for optics research
  • newly-refurbished physics and astronomy teaching labs

Interdisciplinary approach

Much of the department’s work is interdisciplinary and we have successful collaborative projects with members of the schools of Biosciences, Computing, Engineering and Digital Arts at Kent, as well as an extensive network of international collaborations.

National and international links

Physics at Kent 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.

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PhD at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 764000



International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254


School website

Physics and Astronomy