Mechanical Engineering PhD/MSc by Research

Postgraduate doctoral research degree in Mechanical Engineering PhD/MSc by Research: 

Unlock new discoveries in an internationally acclaimed research environment that is leading innovative and transformational changes in the manufacturing sector.

By studying a PhD / MSc by Research in Mechanical Engineering you will be leading pivotal change that underpins business interests and creates a tangible impact on society. From nanotechnology to vehicle and aero-technology, our research scales the full range of engineering disciplines to examine some of the most challenging issues today and supports the manufacturing industry worldwide.

Our impactful research culture is proven with 85% of the research is acknowledged as world-leading or internationally excellent in the latest Research Excellence Framework. Research degrees in Mechanical Engineering are offered through three research specialist centres: Biomedical and Microengineering; Advanced Manufacturing Centre; and Vehicle Technology.

Guided by our high-profile academic staff in a supportive environment, our PhD options are designed to allow you to release your full potential.

Yang Yang

Yang Yang

PhD Mechanical Engineering

“A PhD degree is a necessary experience / training for anyone wishing to start an academic career. However, during the PhD course, I not only gained the essential scientific skills and research methods, but also have improved my interpersonal ability.”

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. 

Our research within the School of Mechanical Engineering positions the University and West Midlands region as the UK’s research and development centre in the area of Advanced Manufacturing. We pride ourselves on applying engineering science to solving problems that are important to society and we are leading changes in advanced manufacturing to ensure continued business success. Our research has vastly benefitted industrial partners in the aerospace, automotive, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing and transport sectors.  Those include world-leading companies, such as Airbus, Delcam, GKN, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Johnson and Johnson, Johnson Matthey, Rolls-Royce, and Shell.Research degrees in Mechanical Engineering are offered through three research specialist centres:

Our research is often interdisciplinary, involving not only other areas of engineering but also biological sciences, chemistry, medicine, physics and psychology.

All researchers will be encouraged to publish their work at reputable conferences and journals.

Learning and Teaching

Every doctoral researcher is assigned one or more academic supervisors as well as a mentor. Meetings with your supervisor take place typically every week or few weeks, depending on your need for support and the stage that you are at with 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, you will receive appropriate training to use all the equipment needed in your research project. To support you acquiring extra skills to advance your academic, personal and professional development a development needs analysis is undertaken.

Doctoral researchers are encouraged to participate in demonstration work during lectures and tutorial sessions to help support undergraduate students understand concepts and develop problem-solving skills. This gives you teaching and learning skills which are a valuable addition to your CV.

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. All researchers are required to undertake an annual review of their research progress. This is usually carried out either in May/June or December/ January. In this annual review, you will be assessed by an academic member of staff. At the end of the research project, you will write a thesis to be submitted for exaamination and award of the degree.

Why study this course

By studying a PhD with us, you will be at the forefront of developing industry and making a pivotal change to society. 

As well as this, you'll have access to an unparalleled support network. In addition to the supervisors associated directly to each researcher, the school have two mentors who can be approached to discuss specific issues that affect their progress. Also, the school has a postgraduate research administrator who advises all researchers on procedures followed by the school.  


As a doctoral researcher at Birmingham, you will have easy access to the materials and facilites you need to undetake world-class research. In recent years, over £5 million has been invested in new laboratories for advanced manufacturing, micro-engineering and biomedical engineering and we are continually expanding our facilities.

Our Design Centre houses over 80 networked computers for computer-aided engineering including computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacture (CAM), finite-element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and systems modelling (engine systems; 1-d gas dynamic). There are also facilities for group design work, two new RP3D printing machines complementing the existing Denford table top four axis Compact 1000 Pro CNC router and milling machines.

Our £2.5 million machining research equipment is housed in a single purpose-built laboratory, enabling us to complete research contracts with industrial partners involving aeroengine manufacture, new materials evaluation (including titaniums and carbon fibre composites) and micro-sensor development for a whole range of applications. Our new engines laboratories are being used to research engines for hybrid vehicle power-trains in highly realistic transient speed/load conditions, including the effects of very cold start and combustion air (from -20°C) on emissions and performance.

We also have a biomedical engineering laboratory within a Class 2 containment area, equipped with the latest electro-mechanical testing machines for evaluating surgical implants, enabling us to work with surgeons and with the healthcare industry. Our clean room houses nanotechnology equipment used to make micro-electro- mechanical systems (MEMS).

We also have recently invested in a cryogenic energy laboratory, a £1 million purpose built facilitiy for energy storage using cryogenic liquids, state of the art equipment and a major demonstration plant.

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees 2019/20 academic year:

  • £4,320 UK/EU students, full-time
  • £2,160 UK/EU students, part-time
  • £21,420 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.

We currently offer up to 10 scholarships for doctoral research degrees per year. These cover fees and maintenance for UK/EU students and fees only for overseas applicants. Applications to the doctoral scholarships are made in consultation with the potential supervisor.

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject, or an alternative qualification and/or relevant experience. Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about  international entry requirements

English language

For students whose first language is not English, one of the following English language qualifications are required:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall, with 5.5 minimum band score
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • PTE Academic: 51 in all four skills

Further information about postgraduate English language requirements, including alternative qualifications considered and Pre-Sessional English.

How to apply

Applications for research degrees will be considered for research topics that are related to the research interests of the academic staff within the School.

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

Mechanical Engineering research is organised into three focused research centres:

Advanced Manufacturing Centre

Manufacturing is the life-blood of the world economy, transforming ideas and inventions into real products. Our Advanced Manufacturing Centre has strong industrial collaboration with approximately 80 manufacturing organisations participating in projects. 

Bio-medical and Micro Engineering

There is an increasing trend to make smaller devices for the healthcare sector. Our combination of sills in biomedical and micro-engineering from the use of nanotechnology makes us uniquely positioned in the UK to bridge the gap between engineering research and society. 

Vehicle Technology

We are exploring the sustainability and efficiency to create the engines of the clean engines of the future with high-profile automotive companies.

Cyrogenic Energy Storage

Mechanical Engineering is an integral part of the 'Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage' (BCCES). The BCCES is the UK’s first dedicated research facility for energy storage using cryogenic liquids, comprising new laboratories, state of the art equipment, and a major demonstration plant.

Find a PhD

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.

"Whilst pursuing my PhD at Birmingham I was able to get involved with many multidisciplinary research groups in order to explore their research and its impact on my own work. I also had the chance to attend training events, conferences and other activities in order to further my professional development, all of which were supported by friendly staff at the University.

I’d advise anyone undertaking doctoral research to always be positive and take any opportunities you can to build up a network, be it through research, sport or social activities. What you get back from doing a PhD is very much determined by what you put in.

My PhD has given me the ability to flexibly manage my personal career development in terms of teaching and learning, research, administrative and consultancy work. 

As well as the life-long learning opportunities offered at Birmingham, my PhD has helped me to get to where I am now, successfully gain research grants and start to supervise my own MSc and PhD students."  

Dr Nor Hayati Saad, Doctoral Researcher in Mechanical Engineering, 2010. Now: Senior Lecturer, University Technology MARA, Malyasia.