Postgraduate degree programmes

We welcome applications and enquiries from candidates in the UK and overseas for both the MSc by Research and PhD programs which are available in all branches of chemistry.

We aim to recruit more than 60 postgraduates each year across a broad range of research including to the 2 centres for doctoral training: Bristol Chemical Synthesis and Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials. Applications are welcomed in all areas of chemistry at any time of year.

In general we do not advertise specific projects. Below are highlighted just a few of the many available projects for which funding is currently available.

Contacting us

If you require further information about opportunities for postgraduate research please contact the appropriate Postgraduate Admissions co-ordinator:-

If you are uncertain which of the above to contact, please email the Director of Graduate Recruitment, Dr Charl Faul

Selected current vacancies

Please note:  When using our online Postgraduate Application System select 'Chemistry PhD' in Programme Choice.

Condensed matter meets Biophysics : understanding glasses with proteins (Dr Paddy Royall, School of Chemistry & Dr Ross Anderson, School of Biochemistry) This project will move into literally unseen areas to tackle one of the deepest questions of condensed matter physics : the glass transition. Using Nobel-prize-winning technology in the form of super-resolution microscopy we shall probe protein suspensions at lengthscales never before seen in “real space”. More specifically this project will use fluorescently labeled proteins expressed in collaboration with Dr Ross Anderson in Biochemistry with tailored interactions as “model atoms” to probe glassy phenomena in novel ways. The project thus combines the philiosophy of colloids as model systems in a biological context. The small size of the proteins (relative to colloids) will give us access to dynamical regimes with qualitatively different behavior to which has not been directly visualized (the dynamical regime between the mode-coupling transition and the glass transition). The project will thus exploit control over interactions in a biological system while simultaneously giving key insight into which of the many competing theories which pertain to describe the glass transition stands up to experimental scrutiny. The project of funded by the European Research Council and will run for 3.5 years starting in 2015. For further details please contact Dr Paddy Royall (

Protolife-inspired Chemical Systems (x3 positions available). Three University of Bristol sponsored postgraduate studentships are now available in the newly established Bristol Centre for Protolife Research (School of Chemistry) under the leadership of Professor Stephen Mann FRS. The research involves the design, construction and utilization of new types of synthetic protocells based on biomimetic self-assembly. Projects will be highly interdisciplinary and relevant to emerging areas of self-organized materials, systems-based nanoscience, artificial cellularity, synthetic biology and bioinspired engineering. The work also interfaces with questions concerning the origin of life and the transition of non-living systems into primitive forms of living matter. Please click here for further details (PDF, 293kB). Informal enquiries may be addressed to

GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership Vacancies

Please note: When applying online, please apply to the Faculty of Science and for the NERC Great Western Four Plus Doctoral Training Partnership (PhD) programme. When asked for your proposed research topic, please indicate that you are applying for a project based in the School of Chemistry. If you wish to apply to multiple projects in different schools, please submit a separate application for each project (you do not need to do this if you are applying to projects within the same school). You will need to change your username for each application but you can maintain the same e-mail address and password).

Reducing the Uncertainties in Light Scattering and Absorption by Individual Aerosol Particles (Prof Andrew Orr-Ewing and Prof Jonathan Reid, School of Chemistry). Aerosol particles and cloud droplets play a significant role in determining the radiative balance of the atmosphere, representing the largest uncertainty in current predictions of climate change. By scattering and absorbing sunlight and terrestrial radiation, they directly influence the solar flux penetrating through the atmosphere and the radiative loss of heat (infrared light) into space.  This project will use a recently developed suite of new instruments capable of measuring the optical properties of individual aerosol particles and the growth in the aerosol particle sizes at high relative humidity.  The research will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Justin Langridge (UK Met Office) and Prof Ellie Highwood (Dept of Meteorology, University of reading). 

Glassy and Ultraviscous Aerosol (Prof Jonathan Reid, School of Chemistry). Aerosols play significant roles in the atmosphere, influencing the formation and lifetimes of clouds, impacting on visibility and air quality, and affecting human health. It is most frequently assumed that the composition of the condensed fraction of the aerosol is governed by thermodynamic principles with the proportions of semi-volatile organic components and water in the gas and particulate phases at equilibrium. Recently, however, it has been shown that secondary organic aerosol (SOA) can exist in amorphous, viscous and even glassy phases, suggesting that ambient aerosol does not achieve equilibrium on an instantaneous timescale. Thus, the partitioning of water, semi-volatile organic components and chemical oxidants between the gas and particle phases will be kinetically determined, influencing the activity of SOA as cloud condensation nuclei and ice nuclei, the persistence of organic components in the environment and impacting on their oxidative lifetimes in the atmosphere. In this project, we will investigate the kinetic factors that inhibit changes in aerosol composition, studying the kinetics of water condensation or evaporation on single aerosol particles held in optical tweezers, and simulating the processes that occur in the atmosphere.  


Centres for Doctoral Training

PhD training opportunities in eight national flagship EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

The GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership provides doctoral training across a broad range of NERC sciences.