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Metallurgy and Materials PhD/MSc by Research

Start date
Contact the School directly for further information
PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time; MSc by Research: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024/25:
£4,786 (UK)
£27,360 (International Students)
Further fee information is available.

Metallurgy and Materials Science at Birmingham is a major research centre with world class facilities. Our research is at the leading edge of Materials Science and Engineering, and we work closely with a range of industrial partners to ensure that the potential of our discoveries are maximised.

Tackle the challenges of metallurgy and materials in one of the largest centres for materials research in the UK. Through working with internationally renowned partners and pushing the boundaries of Metallurgy and Materials, our research is at the forefront of discovery and innovation.

We are ranked in the top 10 for Engineering research in the UK for Grade Point Average GPA and our 4* research - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

Guided by our world-leading academic staff in a supportive environment to carry a research study with us, you will have access to a wide range of the latest equipment and facilities, as well as having close industrial support to ensure that you can create links with the private sector. 

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. 

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. Completion 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 MSc by Research, you must complete an original work of merit in the form of a 30,000-word thesis.

Why study Metallurgy and Materials PhD/MSc by Research at Birmingham?

  • 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 whose research has a strong impact on society. 
  • In addition to this, excellent sporting facilities, a busy schedule 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 in order 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 are 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.

During my PhD, I was able to attend international conferences in India, China and France. This gave me the opportunity to discuss my work with others, as well as experiencing countries I hadn’t visited before. Attending conferences increased my confidence in presenting and discussing my work, and I found it one of the most beneficial things I did whilst carrying out my PhD.

Rachel Punch, PhD Metallurgy and Materials

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, support 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. 


Annual Tuition Fees 2024/25 academic year

  • £4,786 UK students, full-time
  • £27,360 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.


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.


How To Apply

International students applying for this programme will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the University can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). We recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you receive an offer from us.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

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. 

International Requirements

International Students

English language

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

  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: Academic 64 with no less than 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 169, with no less than 162 in any component

International students applying for this programme will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the University can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). We recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you receive an offer from us.

Research interests in the School of Metallurgy and Materials:

Advanced Materials Processing
Driven by innovation in manufacturing methods, our work focuses on application in industry. Our extensive capability includes additive manufacturing, solidification technology and thermomechanical processing via experimental and modelling techniques.

Materials for Challenging Environments
Driven by the behaviour of materials during their life cycle, we have expertise in structural integrity, in-service degradation and the evolution of material properties & microstructure across a range of length scales.

Materials for Sustainability
Our interests focus on technologically relevant energy materials, their modelling, characterisation and recyclability.

Multifunctional Materials and Devices
We develop smart materials with wide ranging applications from consumer electronics to biomedical applications. Our expertise includes composites, functional ceramics, polymers and surface engineering.

Find a PhD

Birmingham has been very kind to me and I've got so many good memories from here, it's really hard to choose. I look back on it and just smile, as you can probably see!

Annabel Fitzgerald, PhD Metallurgy and Materials.

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.