Metallurgy and Materials PhD/MSc by Research

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 quartile in the UK for our world-leading research, with 86% of the research ranked as internationally excellent out of which 31% was given the higher accolade of being world-leading in the Research Exercise Framework.

Our research builds upon our global reputation and we are pioneering research across a breadth of disciplines in four main themes: Alloy Processing, Characterisation and Modelling, Engineering Properties of Materials and Functional Materials Processing.

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. 

Rachel Punch

Rachel Punch

PhD Metallurgy and Materials

“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.”

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. In addition, we have up to 40 honorary staff, 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. 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.

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 whose research has a strong impact on society. 

In addition to this, 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 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.

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.


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

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 students:

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

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

Research groups include:

  • Alloy and process development
  • Alloy chemistry
  • Casting, solidification and welding
  • Ceramics
  • Corrosion and oxidation
  • Fatigue and fracture
  • Ferrous metallurgy
  • High temperature superconductivity
  • Magnetic materials
  • Materials processing
  • Microstructural studies
  • Modelling of manufacturing and materials
  • Polymers
  • Sports materials
  • Surface engineering and heat treatment

Below is a video interview with one of our PhD students that illustrates the kind of research you can get involved with on our PhD/MSc programmes:


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.