Studying a PhD / MSc by Research at the University of Birmingham offers you a wealth of opportunities to expand and transform your thinking through independent inquiry. By undertaking an intensive research project, backed by intellectual and scientific knowledge, you will be joining a vibrant and proactive research environment. All doctoral researchers are brought together by the University Graduate School, providing an abundance of opportunities to meet fellow researchers.
Metallurgical studies date back at Birmingham to 1881, but the School of Metallurgy and Materials continues to advance materials research and discovery. The School (including the IRC in Materials Processing) has more than 25 full-time academic staff and in addition to 40 honorary staff, up to 15 visiting staff, 65 research staff and close to 150 postgraduate students.
Our diverse research portfolio ranges from fundamental aspects of materials science to practical high performance engineering applications. Research is funded from a wide range of sources including the UK research councils, the EU and a cross-section of UK and overseas industry, giving a total income of around £4 million per annum.
Research focuses on active collaboration with industrial partners across four main themes: Alloy Processing, Characterisation and Modelling, Engineering Properties of Materials and Functional Materials Processing.
MSc by Research
Our MSc by Research programme is a one-year programme open to those with an upper second-class Honours degree in science or engineering. Competion of a Metallurgy and Materials MSc by Research consists of undertaking an extensive period of advanced research under the supervision and guidance of one or more experienced members of staff. To be awarded, you must complete an original work of merit in the form of a 30,000-word thesis.
Learning and Teaching
Every doctoral researcher is assigned two academic supervisors as well as a mentor. Meetings with your supervisors take place typically every week or few weeks, depending on your need for support and the stage you are at in your research. Most PhD projects have industrial involvement, sometimes with formal industrial supervisory input. This provides you with useful experience of industry and adds a different perspective to your research.
Within the School, supports will be offered to train new students to use the equipment needed in research project. We also regularly run some specialised courses for doctoral researchers, such as the electron microscopy course, doctoral research induction course and courses to offer you guidance on how to write the report which you will need to submit during your first year.
To support you acquiring extra skills to advance your academic, personal and professional development a development needs analysis is undertaken. Throughout your research programme we keep track of your progress and invite you to reflect on your own academic and personal development, helping to offer you new directions in your research area. Normally, routine progress reviews are collaboratively completed by doctoral researchers and their supervisors, but for some PhD projects presentations with links to industry presentations may be required. There are more formal annual progress reviews, particularly at the end of the first and second years.
Why study this course
Since 1900 the University of Birmingham has been leading the way in research and education. By studying in the School of Metallurgy and Materials, you will have access to academic staff involved in research at the cutting edge of their subjects and generates a strong impact on society.
In addition excellent sporting facilities, a busy calendar of social events and a beautiful campus in a vibrant, multi-cultural city, make Birmingham a great place to study.
The School has a number of cutting-edge facilities at its disposal to support research activities. We are a founding partner of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, which allows for innovative manufacturing processes and technologies to be developed at an industrial scale. We also leading current initiatives such as the High Temperature Research Centre – a brand new joint collaboration between the University and Rolls Royce to enable research and experimentation to deliver rapid high quality product and process innovation.
We have an excellent range of research facilities for materials preparation and surface engineering. There are polymer-processing laboratories and a very well equipped advanced materials processing laboratory including HIP equipment, direct laser fabrication, etc and a shell laboratory and wax-dewaxing facility for investment casting, a laboratory for the hydrothermal synthesis and colloidal processing of ceramics.
The school also accommodates a wide range of equipment for engineering property assessment. The world-class mechanical testing laboratories provide facilities for fracture and fatigue studies and are accredited by Rolls-Royce for the acquisition and interpretation of data. Our creep-testing laboratory provides specialised mechanical testing for polymers and foams, as well as high temperature alloys.
The school also hosts the university’s Centre for Electron Microscopy which has over 10 electron microscopes and has recently been further strengthened with a set of flagship equipment including an Talos STEM, XRT, Robo-Met, a unique 3D characterisation capability. The school’s X-ray diffraction facilities provide essential back-up to crystal growth and other alloy development research.
The functional materials research in the school includes well established ceramics laboratories and a recently refurbished hydrogen laboratory contains equipment to characterise the properties of materials for hydrogen storage, and we have good facilities for the fabrication and characterisation of optical fibre sensors.
Fees and funding
Standard fees apply.
Learn more about fees and funding
Scholarships and studentships
The MSc by Research programme is eligible for the Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme. Applications can be submitted here. Bursaries will fund MSc tuition fees up to £9,500.
Scholarships may be available.
The school typically offers a number of PhD scholarships to cover partially or completely the cost for PhD studies. International students can often gain funding Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. In the last few years, the school has offered over 20 PhD scholarships to sponsor student from China under the CSC scholarship scheme and a number of Li Siguang Scholars came to study in the school jointly funded by the University and Chinese government.
There are also scholarships available via doctoral training centres and collaboration with industry in the form of CASE studentships.
The PhD is open to candidates with an upper second-class Honours degree or its equivalent in Materials Science, Chemistry, Physics or Engineering. The MSc by Research is open to candidates with a good Honours degree or its equivalent.
Learn more about entry requirements.
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements.
Standard English language requirements apply.
How to apply
Learn more about applying.
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