PhD with Integrated Study in Fuel Cells and their Fuels

Postgraduate combined research and teaching degree programme: PhD with Integrated Study in Fuel Cells and their Fuels

A PhD available to a wide variety of disciplines to help understand and overcome the challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell economy.  These challenges are scientific, socio-political, economic and psychological so a number of exciting projects are available.  The PhD is part of an EPSRC funded Doctoral Training Centre in Fuel Cells and their Fuels which is a partnership between University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University, UCL and Imperial College London with studentships being awarded by each of the partners and with opportunities and collaboration between all the universities.  

Chemical Engineering is dynamic and evolving. It provides many solutions to problems facing industries in the pharmaceutical, biotechnological, oil, energy and food and drink sectors.  It is vital to many issues affecting our quality of life; such as better and more economical processes to reduce the environmental burden, and more delicious and longer lasting food due to the right combination of chemistry, ingredients and processing.  

Birmingham is a friendly, self-confident, School which has one of the largest concentrations of chemical engineering expertise in the UK.  The School is consistently in the top five chemical engineering schools for research in the country.  

QS Ranking logo It has a first-class reputation in learning, teaching and research, and is highly placed in both The Guardian and The Times league tables.

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This EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels aims to attract students from a diverse range of disciplines from chemistry and engineering through to social scientists. Fostering the differing intellectual qualities, backgrounds, and cultures and nurturing the student partnerships is achieved through the cohort development strategy of the training programme.

This 4 year programme combines 120 credits of taught modules with a full research PhD. With the intention to produce future energy leaders, an insight into the needs of industry was paramount in shaping this training programme. Co-creation meetings with industrial partners identified five core skill requirements needed of future graduates for company employability. These were
(1) team building
(2) in-depth expertise on a particular topic
(3) appreciation of the challenges of real world applications
(4) industry prepared future employees
(5) broad fundamental knowledge.

The elements were introduced to the CDT programme by academic teaching and increased industry involvement and through the utilisation of other training activities such as seminars, mini-projects, placement opportunities and the soft skill training offered for instance through our institutional Graduate Schools. To support a student centred approach to developing the programme, students from the existing Hydrogen and Fuel Cell CDT were consulted on the current training programme. Ten key areas were identified through this process that students pointed out as important to them. These were:
(1) project management skills
(2) training throughout the programme
(3) more cross-university interaction
(4) group activities
(5) broad fuel cell knowledge acquisition
(6) industry interaction
(7) research skills
(8) specific PhD knowledge acquisition
(9) personal development
(10) a ‘student voice’.

Students will be involved in credit and non-credit based activities, across a flexible training programme which students can tailor to address their skills needs.  The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels PhD programme has technical training elements, innovative training, cohort building, industrial context training, and public engagement activities. It is tailored to allow students to develop their technical skills across 4 years. Alongside the technical training, insight is given into working in industry and research, both nationally and internationally, not forgetting an understanding of societal challenges and the politics of climate change and industrial innovation at a national, as well as larger EU and worldwide level.

Across the first 18 months of studies students will take 70 credits of compulsory taught modules (delivered at UoB), adding another 50 credits of optional modules taken from any of the partner universities.

The mini-projects include a public engagement activity in the 1st year, an interdisciplinary project in year 2, and an industrial placement in the 3rd year, where the order of these projects has been chosen to allow students to make best use of their skills acquired at the relevant point in time.

Why study this course

The fuel cell sector is rapidly expanding, with a continued demand for skilled people in the field of energy cells. By studying this course, researchers have the opportunity to become experts in sustainable energy technology. A rounded approach is developed throughout the course enabling greater skills to inform public opinion, political decision making and bridges the gap between academia and industry.

By studying from a breadth of knowledge and expertise in the consortium of universities, students have the opportunity to study an unmatched level of projects related to their own interests and skill sets, as well as interacting with other students across a diverse range of subject disciplines.


Students will undertake 120 credits from modules delivered across the partnership within the first 18 months of training. The taught component will give students the understanding needed for the multi-disciplinary approach typical for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen (FCH) R&D.

Core modules, worth 70 credits :

  • Energy Systems
  • FCH Technology
  • Materials for FCH
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety I & II
  • Business Methods, Economics & Strategy
  • Project Management

These are complemented by optional modules (50 credits) in a wide range of subjects drawn from across the Centre, from specialised topics to the more cross-cutting modules such as Social Research, and Business Development. The modules on Entrepreneurial and Business Skills were identified by our industrial partners as developing key transferable skills and prepare the students for professional life after graduation.  

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees 2017/18 academic year:

  • £4,180 UK/EU students, full-time
  • £2,090 UK/EU students, part-time
  • £19,710 International students, full-time

Learn more about  fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships
Sources of funding may include the EPSRC, the BBSRC, the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), the European Union and industrial funding for UK and EU students.International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
For further information contact the School directly or email

Entry requirements

A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (eg, Chemical Engineering or any other subject relevant to the research project, including Social Sciences)

Other Eligibility Requirements (unless self-funded)

 Residence criteria

 To be eligible for the full award – consisting stipend and fees – the applicant must have:

  1. ‘settled’ status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on how long they can stay
  2. been ordinarily resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 consecutive years before the programme begins 
  3. spent no part of that residence wholly or mainly for receiving full-time education

 UK National Applicants who are UK nationals and who have lived all their lives in the UK will automatically satisfy all three residence criteria.

EU nationals are not required to meet residence criteria (1) and (3). They may qualify for full awards if they fulfil criterion (b). Otherwise, they may qualify for ‘fees-only’ awards.

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

Please email your CV to

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

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The programme:

  • Lasts for four years
  • Has taught modules (120 credits) in the first three years in Science, Engineering, Energy, Teambuilding, Business, Economics and Management
  • Provides research in fuel cell technologies
  • Provides a stipend with University fees paid by EPSRC
  • Involves industry

It is based within the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) in Fuel Cells and Their Fuels. Drawing upon expertise and research facilities at the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham, Imperial College London and University College London, the CDT is a flagship collaboration undertaking research in a breadth of fuel cell related fields.

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