Postgraduate research programmes

PhD and MSc by Research

Students in the PhD programme will undertake cutting-edge research under the close supervision of a member of staff. The period of study is usually three to four years. In many cases the supervisor is chosen before the student arrives and some students are supervised jointly by two advisers. We also offer an MSc by Research programme, typically one year in duration. Areas of research are described on our website.  Please note that this list is not exhaustive, nor is the availability of any project guaranteed in advance. If you would like more information about a particular project, please contact the member of staff in question.

Training, events and facilities

There are a huge variety of opportunities for training in the School of Mathematics and across the University. PhD students are required to attend 100 hours of taught courses and other research-related activities such as seminar series and reading groups over the course of their degree, with at least 60 hours in their first year. The precise make up is decided upon between the student and supervisor at the start of the first year.

Academy for PhD training in Statistics

First year PhD students in statistics, as well as students taking the MSc as the first year of an MSc+PhD programme, will be expected to attend four one-week residential courses provided by the national Academy for PhD Training in Statistics (APTS). Delivered collaboratively by nine prominent UK Statistics research groups, these intensive APTS courses give new postgraduate students drawn from across the UK the chance to get together and learn (formally and informally) from top class researchers, in a stimulating academic and social environment. In 2016/17, the following courses are offered: statistical computing, statistical inference, statistical modelling, statistical asymptotics, applied stochastic processes, computer intensive statistics, survival analysis and nonparametric smoothing. See the APTS website for more information. 

Taught Course Centre

The Taught Course Centre (TCC) is a collaboration between the Mathematics Departments of Bath, Bristol, Imperial College, Oxford and Warwick, funded by a grant from the EPSRC. The TCC offers about 25 lecture courses across Applied and Pure Mathematics and Probability. Courses are delivered using interactive audio-visual technology: lectured from one institution, they may be attended interactively in all. These courses are given by leading experts across a broad range of research areas and are aimed 4 at providing postgraduate students an advanced level of tuition in a broad range topics. See the TCC website for more information.


The School of Mathematics organises a large number of research seminars and special lecture events, across all areas of research. In 2015/16, there are more than 15 weekly seminar series available, in addition to several other events throughout the year such as the Distinguished Lecture Series. All postgraduate students are expected to attend at least one seminar series relevant their research. ‘Formal’ seminars are given by distinguished visitors from elsewhere in Britain and abroad. ‘Informal’ seminars are usually given by people already in Bristol, including postgraduates themselves. Go to our events page for the latest events in the schedule of seminars and special lectures.

Skills training

The Bristol Doctoral College provides information, guidance and skills training for all postgraduate students working towards a doctoral degree. The Faculty of Science at Bristol runs an induction course for all postgraduate students, providing an introduction to the University and the basic skills required for postgraduate work.

Computing facilities

Our postgraduate students have access to world-class computing facilities. Every student will be given a desktop computer, providing a wide range of commonly used applications. Students will also have access to state-of-the-art statistical and computational applications, depending on licensing and specific research needs. There is an excellent research computing infrastructure, accessed from fully networked workstations on every desk. The School runs its own multiprocessor farm (CREAM: Cluster for Research in Advanced Mathematics) consisting of over 31 64-bit nodes totalling over 230 cores, with associated storage and networking. Research students also have access to the University’s High Performance Computing facilities.

Travel and exchange opportunities

Students are encouraged and supported financially to attend meetings and conferences relevant to their work, including international conferences. The Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Global Exchange Programme allows PhD students from Bristol to spend a research period at one of our global WUN research partners


Postgraduate students can take any of our third and fourth year undergraduate courses delivered within the School. The methods of assessment on taught courses vary and may include some combination of written examination, homework and project work.

Mingle Conference

Our PhD students organise an annual Mingle conference, where they present their work to each other in a friendly and sociable setting. This one-day meeting takes place in late September, and it provides an excellent opportunity for starting PhD students to meet other students and to get a good overview of research in the school. 

Journal clubs and reading groups

In journal clubs, PhD students and other researchers give presentations about publications they have read recently; in reading groups, new material can be learnt together. Some of these are assessed and count towards the required 100 hours of assessed courses.

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