PhD Programme


PhD with Integrated Studies in Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications


There is an increasing demand for skilled professionals in the field of hydrogen and fuel cells. 

The Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and their Applications Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) has been set up specifically to provide skilled PhD graduates for industries, international businesses and academe over the next decades.

The four-year PhD is aimed at researchers who wish to gain a systematic knowledge and understanding of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, including developments and problems at the forefront of the discipline. The programme combines research in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with related topics such as Energy, Materials, Project Management and Business.

PhD students focus on the following key research areas :

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Bioscience
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Economics
  • Policy

PhD graduates will be able to evaluate current research critically, and be original in the application of their knowledge, proposing new hypotheses as appropriate.

They will be able to deal with complex issues, making sound judgements in the absence of complete information, and will be able to communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences. In addition, they will be self-motivating and able to act autonomously, and will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary to exercise initiative and personal responsibility, to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations, and to have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

The high level of numeracy of PhD graduates, and their skills in problem solving, team working, and communication and information technology will equip them for successful careers outside as well as within the process and allied industries.


Doctoral Researchers take core modules at Birmingham, plus a combination of elective modules from Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham

Core Modules

  • Business Methods, Economics and Strategy
  • Marketing and TQM
  • Materials for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies
  • Effective Project Management
  • Public Engagement & Awareness in Energy
  • The Energy System.

Elective Modules

  • Advanced Materials
  • Advanced Materials Characterisation
  • Advanced Reaction Systems
  • Automotive Materials
  • Colloid Chemistry and Rheology
  • Combined Heat and Power Systems
  • Computation Methods and Frontier Conservation and Recycling of Materials
  • Consultancy Skills for Researchers
  • Continuum Mechanics
  • Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering
  • Energy Conservation & Utilisation
  • Exploring Science and Technology in Society
  • From the Bench to the Bank
  • Introduction to Nanotechnology
  • Materials for Energy Generation and Storage
  • Materials for Sustainable Environmental Technologies
  • Mathematical Modelling of Time-dependent Processes
  • Measurement Techniques for Fuel Cells
  • Molecular Delivery
  • Powder handling and Processing
  • Presentation & Communication Skills Development
  • Process Engineering Fundamentals
  • Renewable Energy Technology
  • Surface Engineering Technology
  • Technologies for the Hydrogen Economy
  • Vehicle Functional Performance
  • Vehicle Systems Analysis.

Module choices are made when commencing the programme, and subsequently at the start of each academic year.

Assessment and Key Stages


Each module is assessed by exam, course work or a combination of both. Exams are normally held in May and June, with resists in September. Every module must be passed with a pass mark of 50 per cent or higher, unless specified otherwise. A failed module may be repeated only once. At the CDT’s discretion, a different module may be taken but capped at 50 per cent. If the resit is failed, the Doctoral Researcher will be unable to complete the programme. An MRes qualification may be possible providing 60 credits have been obtained combined with a thesis.

Key Stages Summary

An overview of the key stages over the four years is given below. The timings are based on an October start and may change with input from all three partner universities. Applicants are warmly encouraged to contact the CDT for an informal discussion about the stages, assessments and conditions for progression.

Activity Month No
Project set up - 9
Advertising - 6
Doctoral Researcher interview & selection - 3
Start 0
Monthly Report 1
First Milestone Report 3
Second Milestone Report 6
DTC Annual Conference (April) & Progress Review Presentations4 7
Interim Interview 8
Completion of 3 Mini-Projects 12
Major Engagement with Industry 12
Progress Review Report & Interviews (April) 18
DTC Annual Conference & Presentations (April) 19
1st Journal/Conference Paper 24
Progress Review (April) 30
DTC Annual Conference (April) 31
2nd Journal/conference paper 36
Completion of all modules/exams 36
Progress Review & Mock Viva/Thesis content (March) 42
Evidence of Job search and industry interviews 40
DTC Annual Conference & Presentations to Industry (April) 43
3rd Journal/conference paper 45
Thesis submission 45-48
Viva 48
Last possible submission date 48

Programme Management and Facilities

Programme Management

The programme is led by the Programme Director and overseen by the CDT’s Industrial Advisory Group to ensure that industry perspectives on real-world energy issues are effectively articulated in the programme. An academic advisory group representing the three partner universities reviews the strategy and policies of the management team to ensure that its objectives are delivered.Each PhD student reports to two academic supervisors. The primary supervisor leads the research project and the second acts as co-supervisor, often from a different faculty or university. Where relevant, an industrial supervisor may be also appointed Monthly student cohort meetings and smaller technical focus groups allow for lively peer-to-peer and management team interaction, opportunities to report on progress and listen to guest speakers.


Doctoral Researchers have access to the latest thinking, training, research and state-of-the-art scientific equipment across all three partner universities. More than £20 million has been invested in facilities that include an electrolyser (ITM Power; HPac Model); hydrogen compressor (Haskel; 86992-54827 Model); fleet of fuel cell vehicles (Microcab Ltd); hydrogen refuelling station (Air Products Series 100) and a series of valves, pumps and control systems; class 1000 cleanroom with high temperature (1800oC) annealing furnace; multi-purpose energyiefficient pneumatic drive test rig; hybrid fuel testing laboratory; real-time control development system; 3.2m2 variable-tilt solar simulator; large environmental chambers; range of dynamometers from 700-3,200Nm; battery simulation and cyclers up 250kW; thermal systems testing; sophisticated heat transfer, monitoring, testing and analysis; internal combustion engine test facility; and capability for modelling and simulating power plants.

Overseas Collaboration

Doctoral Researchers will have the opportunity to take part in 3-month placements at well-reputed Research Centres around the world.

Professional memberships

Doctoral Researchers are strongly encouraged to apply for membership of relevant institutes or professional bodies. All CDT Researchers automatically qualify for membership with MEGS (Midlands Energy Graduate School) and the Energy CDT Network (Network of Energy Centres for Doctoral Training), which offers free student membership of the Energy Institute

The MEC and MEGS 

The Midlands Energy Consortium (MEC) comprises the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University and University of Nottingham. The consortium draws on the synergies, expertise and resources across three institutions' energy research activities. One of the MEC’s flagship projects is the Midlands Energy Graduate School (MEGS). MEGS is a unique and powerful £3M collaboration providing Masters and PhD students in energy with additional training, development and networking opportunities.

To explore the energy research investment and collaborations led by the MEC, please visit:

Members of MEGS have the unique opportunity to:

  • study specialist modules delivered by experts across all three world-class partner universities
  • take complementary energy-related modules via flexible, state-of-the-art video conferencing
  • attend exclusive MEGS events, including seminars, conferences and summer school programmes
  • access a wide network of researchers involved in sustainable low-carbon energy systems
  • participate in MEGS competitions to hone professional skills and win valuable prizes
  • apply for MEGS Travel Grants worth up to £600 for energy conferences and seminars

To find out more or join, please visit:

Energy CDT Network

The Energy CDT Network provides an environment for leaders in UK energy research and training to share expertise, stimulate collaboration and develop those who will transform the future of energy.

The Network draws together 13 UK-based Energy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) to collaborate on training programmes and research projects, share best practice and communicate their work to the public. Together, the Centres represent over £60 million of investment by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and support more than 600 early career researchers.

Membership is free. Benefits and activities include: high-level networking, conferences, panel discussions, public engagement activities, career training and innovative business competitions such as EnergyYES. 

To find out more or join, please visit:

Stipend and Eligibility


Doctoral Researchers will receive a tax-free stipend of £14,600 per annum which may be increased up to £19,600 per annum when an industrial sponsor is obtained. The home university (Birmingham, Loughborough or Nottingham) is responsible for stipend payments, reimbursement of expenses and other financial matters.


Residence criteria
To be eligible for the full award – consisting stipend and fees – the applicant must have:(a) ‘settled’ status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on how long they can stay
(b) been ordinarily resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 consecutive years before the programme begins
(c) spent no part of that residence wholly or mainly for receiving full-time education

  • UK Nationals  Applicants who are UK nationals and who have lived all their lives in the UK will automatically satisfy all three residence criteria.
  • EU NationalsEU nationals are not required to meet residence criteria (a) and (c). They may qualify for full awards if they fulfil criterion (b). Otherwise, they may qualify for ‘fees-only’ awards.

Qualifications criteria
It is expected that all applicants will have a minimum of an upper second class undergraduate degree, an equivalent qualification or relevant experience.

How to Apply

For advice or an informal discussion on applying for the PhD, please contact Mr John C Hooper MBA, CDT Programme Officer, on +44 (0) 121 414 5275 or e-mail