Functional Nanomaterials (EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

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Run by Faculty of Science
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Start date September 2018

Programme overview

Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN) is a nationally-funded (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training. Our four-year integrated PhD programme begins with a structured year of training, giving you all the foundation skills necessary for you to prosper in your PhD research.

There is a very strong emphasis on exploration and students are actively encouraged to try different research themes before choosing their PhD topic.

Other features of the first year:

  • Interdisciplinary research projects giving you practical training in all the key characterisation and fabrication techniques in a variety of different labs
  • Expert-led group-work, practical sessions and lecture courses in advanced topics
  • Real training from scientists working in world-leading companies so you can see real-world applications of research
  • A visit to a leading centre overseas
  • A six-month extended project on a topic of your choice, during which you will choose your PhD project
  • Extensive skills training in leadership, creativity, writing, presenting, group work, leading discussions, etc.

After the first year, students usually move to an academic department in the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Health Sciences or Life Sciences for their PhD project but remain a BCFN student and keep close ties through taking part in teaching, regular seminars and events.

Fees for 2018/19

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2018/19

UK nationals are eligible for an EPSRC studentship, which covers tuition fees and living costs. This also applies to EU nationals who have lived in the UK for at least three years.

We welcome applications from self-funded students from anywhere in the world.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

The first year of our four-year programme has been designed to provide you with all the skills needed for effective interdisciplinary research in functional nanomaterials. Training and research run in parallel, with the first six months weighted towards lecture courses and skills training. The second half of the year focuses on the extended project, which has the possibility of becoming your PhD project. There are also regular industrial training modules and transferable skills sessions.

After your first year you will start work on your PhD project. You will continue to take part in a wide range of BCFN activities, including research seminars, transferable skills training, international travel opportunities and the annual BCFN conference.

In the first year you will be based in the BCFN PhD cohort office in the School of Physics. From the second year onwards you will be located in the academic departments of your supervisors.

Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for the first year of the EPSRC Functional Nanomaterials CDT programme.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in physics, chemistry, materials science or a related subject (eg MSci, MPhys, MEng, MChem). Applicants with a upper second-class honours BSc degree may be considered if they can demonstrate very good potential for research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile F
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

Functional nanomaterials is an exciting area of nanoscience, bridging the traditional disciplines of physics, chemistry and engineering. It offers diverse PhD opportunities including:

  • Fundamental investigations of atoms and molecules and how they assemble and order;
  • Research into the fabrication of more complex structures and surfaces;
  • The possibilities of functional nanostructures in fields as diverse as computing, healthcare, communications, energy storage and production, and pharmaceuticals.

The BCFN is highly interdisciplinary and all research projects have supervisors in at least two departments. Academic departments involved with the BCFN include aerospace engineering, biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, clinical sciences, dentistry, electrical and electronic engineering, engineering maths, mathematics, ophthalmology, physics, and physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience.

You choose your PhD project at the end of the first year. Please refer to the BCFN website for details of current projects.


Graduates of this programme have gone on to a wide range of careers, including postdoctoral research, industry, accountancy and intellectual property law.

Staff profiles

Further details of the current research and supervision interests of individual members of staff are available on the BCFN website.

How to apply
Application deadline:

12 January 2018 for EPSRC-funded places (UK/eligible EU students).

International and self-funded students are welcome to apply until July 2018 but early application is advised.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

Please see full REF 2014 results for the University of Bristol; in particular, the scores for subject areas 9 and 15.

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

BCFN Manager Phone: +44 (0) 117 928 7485 Email:

HH Wills Physics Laboratory
University of Bristol
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol BS8 1TL


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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