PhD & Postgraduate Research

We offer the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Chemistry in our brand new, state-of-the-art facilities, helping our aim of carrying out advanced postgraduate research.

Studying for a research degree is a highly rewarding and challenging process. You'll work to become a leading expert in your topic area with regular contact and close individual supervision with your supervisor.

Further information regarding what a PhD in Chemistry will involve and how you can join us may be found on these pages. You should feel free to contact us with any enquiries about our research, and about the possibility of undertaking a research degree here in Lancaster. If you have a particular project in mind, please feel free to contact directly the appropriate member of staff.

Our research is broadly structured into three core discipline themes. Each theme is populated with an expanding team of research-active staff at the forefront of research in their respective fields. Our interests span many areas of both fundamental and technological interest. Perhaps most importantly, we share not only common ground in research excellence, but an inclusive and collaborative spirit, and a dedication to passing on our knowledge to a new generation of researchers.

Self-funded applications

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

Industry-funded applications

Launch your career in research and development with an industry-focused, three year funded PhD for graduates with a background in scientific disciplines. Each PhD is tailored to both the subject and the requirements of a specific industry.

We will require a research proposal on the area/s you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor for your research. 

This is the starting point to find a suitable supervisor who will then if interested contact the applicant for a phone interview to discuss the proposal and intended research, meaning your proposal is not your permanent topic for your PhD studies and open to negotiation. Past guidelines have suggested the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area;
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the art in this area;
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the state of the art which you would like to address in your PhD;
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue;
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections.

We recommend applicants submit their research interests and the PhD Admissions Tutor can pass their application onto the most relevant and available potential supervisor. However, If you would like to search for a suitable academic supervisor(to quote in your application) then you can find a list of our academics here.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying.
    For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required.
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree.
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results.

You can apply at any time of the year for these courses. A PhD can begin at any time of the year, but a MSc by Research is normally started in October, in common with the taught MSc programmes. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you to apply as early as possible.

Research Training

We take care of all of our students at Lancaster University. The Faculty of Science and Technology runs a series of training sessions designed to improve your skills and abilities during your PhD. Learn more

PhD Supervisors

Academic Staff

View by Category

I have a range of available projects in Raman spectroscopy for biomolecular characterisation and single cell Raman microspectroscopy, although funding is currently not available. I welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding.Training will be provided in Raman Spectroscopy, computational methods for analysis and chemical biology.

View Lorna's profile

Potential projects are focussed on synthetic organic photochemistry:
- New Synthetic Routes to Stereodefined Four-Membered Heterocycles
- New Synthetic Routes to Cubane Derivatives: Opportunities in Drug Discovery
- Metal-Catalysed Enantioselective [2+2] Photocycloadditions

View Susannah's profile

We have a range of projects, although funding is currently not available. We welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. Training will be provided in Time Resolved Fluorescence Spectroscopy, and Lifetime Imaging using Confocal Microscopy for the application in light harvesting structures.

View Lefteris's profile

I am looking to recruit postgraduate students keen to work on synthetic supramolecular chemistry research projects.

Funded PhD studentships will be advertised on the Lancaster Chemistry webpages when they are available.

Prospective students with their own funding for postgraduate research should email me directly, attaching a CV.

View Nicholas's profile

Any students with their own funding would be encouraged to apply

View Nick's profile

PhD projects include synthetic organic chemistry, catalysis and organometallic chemistry. Projects will be advertised as they become available.

View Vilius's profile

I will advertise Ph.D. research projects as funding is secured via jobs.ac.uk.
Self-funded students are warmly encouraged to contact me to discuss mutually interesting research projects.

View John's profile

There are always research opportunities in our group, although funding is currently not available. We have both fundamental and applied projects available, and welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. We will provide training in all relevant aspects of computational chemistry and subsequent analysis.

View Andrew's profile

We have a range of projects, although funding is currently not available. We welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. Training will be provided in NMR spectroscopy, computational methods for analysis and molecular biology techniques for the production of proteins.

View David's profile

To learn more about research opportunities contact Nuria at n.tapiaruiz@lancaster.ac.uk. We always welcome applications from self-funded enthusiastic students with groundbreaking ideas. **3-year fully funded PhD position to work on sodium cathode development for Na-ion batteries in collaboration with Plank Labs Ltd.** To learn more about this opportunity visit: http://www.globalecoinnovation.org/graduates/projects/plank-labs-limited/ **4-year fully funded PhD position to work on flexible all solid Zn ion batteries**

View Nuria's profile

Electrochemical energy storage and conversion -

  • New chemistries in flow batteries
  • Physical characterisation of flow battery processes
  • Electrocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction
  • Analytical electrochemistry

Applications are always welcome from MRes and PhD candidates, domestic and international, with their own funding. There is also opportunity to collaboratively apply for funding based on mutual interest. Please contact me!

Lancaster University boasts an a brand new and well provisioned multimillion pound Chemistry Department. It is also well supported by outstanding research facilities in Engineering, Physics, Environmental Science to name a few. Energy research is a particular focal point at Lancaster University with Energy Lancaster championing interdisciplinary research campus wide. This is an exciting time to become involved at Lancaster University, with vibrant, fresh and exciting research ideas central to our emerging chemistry portfolio. Visit our departmental website for more details http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/chemistry

View Kathryn's profile

Research Areas

Our chemistry research is divided into three themes. Each theme is led by a team of research-active staff, at the forefront of their fields.

Chemical Synthesis

Chemical Synthesis

Synthesis underlies all aspects of chemistry; the design, creation and study of molecules and materials are at the heart of research activity across all areas of chemistry.

Chemical Theory and Computation

Chemical Theory and Computation

The interrelated fields of Chemical Theory and Chemical Computation form the basis of the CTC research theme in Chemistry at Lancaster.

Physical and Analytical Chemistry

Physical and Analytical Chemistry

Characterisation and measurement of the properties of atoms, molecules, solids, materials and biological systems are at the heart of our physical and analytical chemistry (PAC) research here at Lancaster.

Current Opportunities

Funded Opportunities

Details of our funded PhD studentships are given below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the prospective supervisor before making an application. Chemistry graduates can also register for a funded industry-focused PhD with a £15,000 stipend. For more information, see here.

  • Industry-funded PhD: Development of point of care testing of critical and chronic health conditions

    In the healthcare sector, rapid results matter for effective and efficient diagnosis.  The aim of this project is to get accurate and economical test results on the patient’s site or in doctor’s clinic from a single drop of blood in a minute. Point of care testing (POCT) will be developed to facilitate localised healthcare monitoring for patients with critical or chronic conditions that require regular measurements from body fluid sources.

    Many patients have to make regular journeys to care centres, such as hospitals, for tests to be carried out.  This is very demanding of time, resources and has a very significant impact on the carbon footprint associated with vehicular transportation. This project aims to address this through the provision of local, or at home testing at the point of care. eBiogen aims to provide a portfolio of critical care point of care testing through collaboration with Lancaster University.

    Applicants should have a first or 2.1 Degree in chemistry or biochemistry.

    Industry Partner

    This PhD project is supervised by Lancaster University, and eBiogen.  eBiogen Limited is a technology-based start-up focusing on the development of point-of-care testing devices for blood. Currently, blood samples are usually sent to remote path labs, requiring transportation, delays, large sample volumes and cost.

    eBiogen is working on technologies which circumvent many of these problems - the advantages include portability (a credit card sized device compared to a bench top device); rapid, accurate and timely results (results are available in under a minute); multiple tests on one device; low costs and small sample volume (50ul compared to 3ml currently); ease of use and low maintenance.

    The company is working with Lancaster University Faculty of Health & Medicine and the Department of Chemistry to develop these test technologies.

  • Industry-funded PhD: Do surfactant based wetting agents improve fertilizer nutrient-use efficiency for managed amenity turf grown in sand based media?

    Surfactant-based wetting agents can reduce the effect of soil hydrophobicity, which occurs in sports turf growing on sandy substrates. Applying wetting agents might also improve the water-and nutrient use-efficiency (WUE, NUE) of the irrigation applied, but this has never been scientifically proven. The project will determine effects of wetting agents on WUE and NUE of turfgrass and arable species, investigating the modification of soil-plant-water relations which underpins those effects. This could open the widespread use of wetting agents to improve resource-use efficiency in agriculture.

    Applicants should have a relevant plant / agricultural sciences or chemistry degree, master degree preferred. Experience on field and greenhouse experiment design and performance will be an advantage.

    Enterprise and Collaborative Partners

    This PhD project is a collaboration between J Mallinson (Ormskirk) Ltd with supervision from Dr Jaime Puertolas in the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, working in collaboration with Myerscough College.

    J Mallinson (Ormskirk) Ltd is a company based in Lancashire applying over 45 years experience to provide the best in sports field construction. Over the years the company has produced highly regarded sports fields for football, cricket, horse racing, golf and others with customers which include Old Trafford, Lords Cricket ground and Aintree racecourse.

  • Industry-funded PhD: Novel Application for the Random Column Packing "Dixon Rings"

    Dixon Rings are commonly used as a random packing for columns of process units such as distillation, absorption, stripping, adsorption, etc. They offer a high surface area, high mass transfer efficiency along with a low-pressure drop. When used for mass transfer, there can be a reduction in the size of the plant required which offers additional benefits.

    This project will extend utilisation of Dixon Rings to reactive packing for a number of applications, taking place in gas/liquid intensified processes. Characteristics of flow dynamics of the Dixon ring packing with and without catalyst will be experimentally examined. In addition, different types of catalyst impregnations will be considered including sol-gel, electroplating and in-situ development of catalytic polymer or resin.  Experimental results will be implemented in the database of the commercial process simulations, promoting applications of Dixon rings for various gas/liquid processes.

    Applicants should have a first class or upper second degree in Chemical or Process or Mechanical Engineering or related disciplines.

    Enterprise and Collaborative Partners

    The PhD is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University with supervision by Dr Vesna Najdanovic, Dr Farid Aiouache, Dr Allan Rennie and Croft Filters Limited.

    Croft Filters Ltd has been manufacturing bespoke filtration solutions for over 31 years with the experience and knowledge gained through research and practice. Their extensive expertise includes filter manufacturing solutions in any shape or design, including basket strainers, duplex filters, vacuum filters, cone filters, cylinder filters and screen filters in perforated plate, woven wire mesh and expanded metal.

Self-Funded Opportunities

The Chemistry Department currently has several self-funded postgraduate opportunities.

  • Interlocked Molecules as Receptors of Challenging Ionic Guests

    A PhD project for self-funded students in synthetic supramolecular chemistry is available under the supervision of Dr Nicholas Evans at the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University.

    The binding and sensing of ionic species are important for a range of biomedical, environmental and industrial reasons. However, the study of ionic recognition to date has largely focused on the binding and sensing of relatively simple targets such as metal cations and achiral inorganic anions. The preparation of receptor molecules, capable of the recognition of more challenging targets, such as ion pairs or chiral polyatomic anions, presents an exciting challenge to the supramolecular chemist.

    The project being advertised here will involve the design, synthesis and study of novel rotaxanes or catenanes that will act as selective hosts of such challenging ionic guest targets. The project will involve rationally designed synthesis to construct the rotaxanes and analytical experiments to determine their ion binding affinities. The student will receive training and gain expertise in both of these areas of practical scientific investigation.

    Enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, the ability to learn (by tuition and independently) and possession of excellent written and oral communication skills are essential.

    Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or good 2:1 UK Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry. They must possess synthetic and analytical chemistry skills that would be expected of a graduate with a 1st class or good 2:1 UK Masters-level degree in Chemistry. If the applicant’s first language is not English, an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) is also required. Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system. Informal email enquiries prior to making an application are encouraged.

    For further information on the research of Dr Nicholas Evans, see here.

    The Chemistry Department operates a research student mentor programme. One of our current student mentors will be available to answer any of your questions about life and studying in our Department throughout the application stage and during your research degree at Lancaster.

    The Chemistry Department particularly welcomes applications from women. We are committed to flexible working on an individual basis, we welcome and embrace diversity, and are committed to the Athena SWAN principles.

    The Department is the holder of the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

  • The Catalytic Enantioselective Construction of All-Carbon Quaternary Centres

    Our research programme spans the broad area of synthetic organic chemistry and focuses on the development of new and efficient synthetic methodologies for the catalytic construction of novel molecular building blocks in an enantioselective manner. We are particularly interested in the development of new palladium-catalysed decarboxylative C–C bond formation processes as a means of generating structurally complex sp3-rich molecules to facilitate the drug discovery efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. The proposed PhD project will focus specifically on the catalytic enantioselective alkenylation of carbonyl compounds as a means of generating highly congested sp3 all-carbon quaternary stereogenic centres in an asymmetric fashion.

    It is well established that compounds lacking in structural complexity (sp2-rich) have a poorer track record of being developed into commercial pharmaceuticals than those which possess a more varied 3-D shape (sp3-rich). Towards this end, we have developed the first chemo- and regioselective palladium-catalysed decarboxylative alkenylation of 1,3-dicarbonyls with oxygen (Org. Lett. 2013, 15, 3778), nitrogen (J. Org. Chem., 2016, submitted) and carbon (Org. Lett. 2015, 17, 3926) nucleophiles. This process generates two new bonds and congested quaternary all-carbon centres in a single step. Owing to the efficiency of this approach, this PhD project will explore the use of chiral ligands for palladium to couple 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds with a range of nucleophiles and install these chiral centres in an enantioselective fashion. The development of this methodology will allow us to access extensive classes of novel chiral building blocks as crucial intermediates for drug discovery.

    Enantioselective catalysis is a world-leading area of research in organic chemistry and the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster boasts state-of-the-art NMR, mass spectrometry and HPLC facilities to undertake this work. As such, you will be provided with excellent practical skills in synthetic chemistry as well as an in-depth knowledge of organic chemistry. If you are passionate about organic synthesis and are interested in working in our laboratory, do apply via the Lancaster Postgraduate Admissions website or e-mail me if you require further information.

  • The Enantioselective Synthesis of Novel Spirocyclic 3D Fragments

    Our research programme spans the broad area of synthetic organic chemistry and focuses on the development of new and efficient synthetic methodologies for the catalytic construction of novel molecular building blocks in an enantioselective manner. We are particularly interested in the development of new palladium-catalysed decarboxylative C–C bond formation processes as a means of generating structurally complex sp3-rich molecules to facilitate the drug discovery efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. The proposed PhD project will focus on the development of new methods for the synthesis of sp3-rich, structurally complex molecular building blocks as fragments for drug discovery.

    Fragment-based drug discovery is a mainstream approach for identifying small, less lipophilic molecules as starting points in drug discovery programmes. A fragment library populated with small, polar molecules, which are high in saturation (sp3-rich), can enable orientation-dependent growth and extension of fragments into pockets of an active site that might otherwise be inaccessible to planar aromatic fragments. Unfortunately, synthetic chemistry methodologies are biased towards the synthesis of aromatic compounds, which tend to be lipophilic, whereas sp3-rich and chiral molecules are under-represented. There is, therefore, high demand for small, polar, chiral, sp3-rich fragments, and reliable methodologies for their synthesis. As such, the aims of this PhD project will be two-fold: (a) to explore the enantioselective catalytic allylic alkylation reaction of 4-membered heterocycles; (b) to functionalise the resulting enantioenriched building blocks into a library of chiral and structurally complex 3-dimensional spirocyclic fragments for drug discovery.

    Enantioselective catalysis is a world-leading area of research in organic chemistry and the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster boasts state-of-the-art NMR, mass spectrometry and HPLC facilities to undertake this work. As such, you will be provided with excellent practical skills in synthetic chemistry as well as an in-depth knowledge of organic chemistry. If you are passionate about organic synthesis and are interested in working in our laboratory, do apply via the Lancaster Postgraduate Admissions website or e-mail me if you require further information.

  • Bioelectronic biomaterials for regenerative medicine (drug delivery and tissue engineering) and neuromodulation

    Applications are invited for a position in the lab of Dr John G. Hardy at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science Institute at Lancaster University. Research in the Hardy group focuses on the development of organic electronic biomaterials which are an emerging class of materials that have the potential for application in regenerative medicine (drug delivery and tissue engineering) and as electrodes for recording or stimulating neural activity (i.e. neural interfaces for neuromodulation).

    Technological significance: Electromagnetic fields affect a variety of tissues (e.g. bone, muscle, nerve and skin) and play important roles in a multitude of biological processes (e.g. nerve sprouting, prenatal development and wound healing), mediated by subcellular level changes, including alterations in protein distribution, gene expression, metal ion content, and action potentials. This has inspired the development of electrically conducting devices for biomedical applications, including:

    • biosensors
    • drug delivery devices
    • cardiac/neural electrodes
    • tissue scaffolds

    It is noteworthy that there are a number of FDA-approved devices capable of electrical stimulation in the body, including cardiac pacemakers, bionic eyes, bionic ears and electrodes for deep brain stimulation; all of which are designed for long-term implantation. Polymers are ubiquitous in daily life, and conducting polymers (e.g. polyaniline, polypyrrole, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)) have shown themselves to be both capable of electrically stimulating cells (e.g. stem cells) or the delivery of drugs. Furthermore, when implanted into small mammals (e.g. mice, rats and rabbits) their immunogenicities are similar to FDA-approved polymers such as poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), supporting their safety in vivo. These preclinical studies suggest that conducting polymer-based biomaterials are promising for clinical translation.

    Research in the Hardy group is inherently interdisciplinary and the student will learn:

    • Chemistry - synthesis (polymers/semiconducting molecules)
    • Materials Science - preparation of films, fibres, foams, gels, particulates, supramolecular materials, 3D printing; and their characterization (physicochemical, electrochemical, mechanical)
    • Biomedical applications (drug delivery, neuromodulation, tissue engineering)

    The student will utilise the facilities and expertise that exist at Lancaster University and may involve external collaborators (academia, charities, industry).

  • Development and application of advanced structural characterisation techniques using solid-state NMR spectroscopy

    Self-funded applicants are sought for a PhD studentship in the development and application of advanced structural characterisation techniques using solid-state NMR spectroscopy.

    NMR spectroscopy is one of the most powerful probes of local structure in materials, giving unrivalled access to atomic-level information that can be difficult to obtain by standard analytical techniques. While NMR is routinely applied for the study of liquids, the study of solids is often more challenging owing to a variety of anisotropic nuclear spin interactions. However, using advanced experimental methodologies, it can be possible to gain detailed insight into a range of structural phenomena such as atomic disorder, defects, and ionic or molecular dynamics.

    The aim of this PhD project is to develop and apply new solid-state NMR techniques for the study of structure and function in technologically-relevant materials. The candidate will work with state-of-the-art experimental NMR facilities at Lancaster University, and also have the opportunity to travel to other facilities within the UK and abroad. In addition to experimental techniques, the project will also involve extensive use of computational codes for analysis of experimental data and the development of structural models. The candidate will also have the opportunity to become involved in NMR hardware development by designing and building NMR probe heads for the study of bulk materials and devices.

Internships at Lancaster University

Internships

All current students and recent graduates can apply for relevant paid work experience through the Faculty of Science and Technology Internship Programme. Learn more

Scholarships and Funding

You may be entitled to a number of scholarships and funding opportunities to aid your postgraduate study of chemistry at Lancaster.

Postgraduate loans

In November 2015 the UK Government confirmed that a new postgraduate loan scheme will be introduced for students commencing Masters courses in the 2016/17 academic year.

Non-means-tested loans of up to a maximum of £10,000 will be available to taught and research Masters students.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University has committed £3.7m to scholarships and bursaries, with 400 students per year being entitled to these.

Faculty scholarships cover your full tuition fees, as well as providing you with a generous stipend and access to a research training grant.

Generous travel grants are also available, allowing you to attend conferences, workshops and seminars relevant to your PhD.

Industry-funded PhDs

Our 80 industry-focused PhDs will allow you to undertake intensive research and development on a specific research project to underpin the development of a new product or service, using this work as the basis of your programme of study. Undertaking an industry-funded PhD could give you a tax-free stipend of £15,000 per year, have your tuition fees subsidised by your partner business, and put you in an enviable position to begin a long-term, well-paid career.

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