Physical Sciences for Health (Sci-Phy-4-Health) PhD/Masters/MSc

Physical Sciences for Health PhD/Masters/MSc

This is an interdisciplinary programme that draws on skills and expertise from across the spectrum of science, engineering and medicine at Birmingham. It is based in the Centre for Doctoral Training, set up through an EPSRC award to train high quality engineering and physical science graduate students in a multidisciplinary environment.


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Emma Korkiakoski

Emma Korkiakoski

PhD Physical Sciences for Health

“For me one of the best things is the interdisciplinary approach into three different sciences: physical, biomedical and computer. This has broadened my horizon and after my first year of study I felt like I had learned a whole new array of skills.”

First year

In the first year students follow a training programme that provides the necessary theoretical foundations, laboratory and practical skills for cross-disciplinary research at the Biomedical Interface. Six tailor-made taught modules and two mini-projects are combined with training in communication skills, public understanding of science and knowledge transfer. This training is an integral part of the PhD programme and is key preparation for the PhD thesis project. Students additionally receive an MSc for the year 1 studies.

Second, third and fourth years; PhD thesis research project

On successful completion of year 1 the students engage in their individual PhD thesis research projects. Each project involves three elements: physical science and computer science applied to a biomedical challenge. Each project has three supervisors, a physical scientist, a computer scientist and a biomedic, one for each of the three areas. One supervisor is the lead supervisor. The CDT provides both study and pastoral support, through dedicated staff and the peer network. The research and team coherence, actively developed in year one through a variety of group activities, continue to be nurtured in the subsequent years through regular pairings, seminars and other Centre-wide activities.

Fully funded PhD places available

Each year the DTC will be able to provide between 10-15 fully funded EPSRC studentships (stipends, fees & bench fees) to UK students and possibly EU students. All candidates are advised to refer to the EPSRC website to check their status and eligibility for EPSRC studentships.

Non-EU Students are not eligible for EPSRC studentships but may secure their own finance or seek competitive scholarships from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University. Up to ten elite scholarships are offered each year across all engineering and physical science disciplines. More information about postgraduate elite scholarship opportunities across the University of Birmingham is available from the Student Funding Office.

Related links

Research and Training Centre in Physical Sciences for Health

Why study this course

The focus of Physical Sciences for Health training is on equipping early stage researchers to be interdisciplinary scientists focused on addressing key health challenges. The training programme offers a real integration between the disciplines within the various individual research projects. The complementary research perspectives and skills brought by the participating academics will uniquely enable training to tackle challenging problems that could not otherwise be satisfactorily addressed and resolved. In this way the research and training are at the cutting-edge, leading to understanding and insights not accessible within a single scientific discipline.

  • Work with Diamond synchrotron facility 
  • Team-building residential courses in the Lake District
  • Entrepreneurship talent pool
  • Intellectual Property training
  • Exhibitions for Birmingham Science Museum, Thinktank
  • Practical experience in media contact
  • Presentations at international conferences
  • Teaching and training from over 75 academics across the University campus
  • Commercial exposure to a network of 20 partner companies


Year 1 consists of taught modules and mini-projects (180 credits). Details can be seen on the Research and Training Centre in Physical Sciences for Health website

Fees and funding

In addition to fees below a bench fee of £7,000pa is payable, which covers research costs including consumables.

10 fully-funded EPSRC studentships (tax-free stipend of £14,553 per annum in 2017) are available for Home/EU students on this inter-disciplinary four-year programme in Physical Sciences for Health in October 2017

Tuition Fees 2018/19 academic year:

  • £4,260 UK/EU students, full-time
  • £20,280 International students, full-time

Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD. You will be able to apply for funding for the 2018 to 2019 academic year in summer 2018.

Follow the video link below to find out more
Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

Further information is available at the student finance zone.

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.

Entry requirements

Normally 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (eg, Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Natural Sciences, Computer Science, Engineering or Mathematics)

Please be aware that entry to our programmes is highly competitive: consequently we also consider the skills, attributes, motivation and potential for success of an individual when deciding to make an offer.

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

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

Apply now

First year: taught modules

In the first year students follow a training programme that provides the necessary theoretical foundations, laboratory and practical skills for cross-disciplinary research at the Biomedical Interface. Core material is taught by dedicated CDT staff while detailed applications in various areas are presented as seminars by the relevant specialists including other academic staff and our industrial partners. Our ethos throughout the programme is of individual support starting from year one.

First year: mini-projects

Each student undertakes two different mini-projects within the first year to practice core experimental and research skills. All projects involve three elements: physical science and computer/data analysis and is applied to a biomedical challenge.

PhD Thesis project

On completion of year 1 students engage in their individual PhD Thesis research projects (often chosen as a development of one of the mini-projects). In the same way as for mini-projects, each project involves a biological system, one or more physical sciences and significant computer analysis of data generated.

To ensure the students continue to develop a broad base of expertise, a ‘Buddy Scheme’ pairs each student with another student from different background and on a different project. The students also participate in CDT wide imaging workshops, and additional training courses (1 module per year) specific to their chosen research area.

All years

The stimulation of novel research is an important part of CDT activity. Seminars and workshops with internal and external academic and industrial speakers allow students to learn about new technologies and concepts at the interface of physical science, imaging and biomedicine. Sci-Phy students automatically become members of the University Graduate School which provides a variety of generic courses such as IT skills and presentation skills.

The continuous advancement in the physical sciences and engineering is constantly enhancing the quality and complexity of imaging tools available to solve key biological challenges. Consequently, biological and biomedical scientists now have at their disposal a wide range of imaging devices at all levels of biological organisation, from molecules to the whole animal. Imaging has the capability to provide an enormous amount of information, hence recent moves to cell based assays in high throughput drug screening and the increasing use of in vivo imaging modalities in diagnostics.

In order to fully realise this potential and make new substantial and significant developments in the biomedical sciences, leading edge researchers must both understand the physical basis and current limitations of these technologies, and have a sound understanding of key biological questions to be addressed.

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. 

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. 

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Range of Employers for Graduates 

  • National Physics Laboratory
  • University College London
  • Price Waterhouse Cooper
  • Brunel University
  • University of Bremen
  • Herriott Watt
  • University of Birmingham 

Range of Occupations for Birmingham's Graduates

  • Portfolio Manager
  • ORUK (Orthopaedic Research UK) Research Fellow
  • Research Associate in Photo acoustic Imaging instrumentation
  • Research Assistant in 3D-Massomics
  • Research Assistant in Surface and Nanoanalysis
  • Accountant

Visit the Careers section of the University website for further information