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Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics


This is a three year research programme culminating in submission and examination of a single research thesis.  Students joining the course will often have completed prior study at a level comparable to our Part III (MMath/MASt) course and many have postgraduate experience.  Our students therefore begin their PhD research with a good understanding of advanced material, which they build on in various ways throughout the course of their PhD studies. Our PhD students might have written several papers before they submit their dissertation, and can go on to win academic positions at leading institutions around the world.

Structure of the PhD

Students are required to undertake a minimum of nine terms of research (i.e. three years). Students are not registered for the PhD in the first instance but are instead admitted on a probationary basis. The PhD registration procedure in DAMTP (progress exam) involves a thorough assessment in the 4th Term of your research (so for students starting their PhD in October, this will be carried out in the following October/November). The assessment is based on a substantial report written by you, followed by an interview and discussion with two assessors. Provided the assessors are satisfied with your progress, they will recommend that you be registered for the PhD.

Research areas

Our research page lists the various research groups and their interests. Note that in some cases there are overlaps. You need to determine which group or groups cover your range of interests, and where appropriate identify a potential supervisor.

The following is a list of some, but by no means all, of the current PhD opportunities in DAMTP:

Additional training and opportunities

Whilst there are no mandatory taught components to the PhD degree, students may wish to undertake specific courses or further training to expand their knowledge, either for personal interest or to directly assist with their PhD research. All students are encouraged to participate and attend the wide range of lectures, seminars and events on offer within DAMTP and the Centre for Mathematical Sciences.

Many students submit a prize essay at the beginning of their fifth term. The best essays each year are of a scale and quality already adequate for a PhD dissertation, incorporating work already, or about to be, published. We intend that our students publish their work in leading journals. Our PhD students might have written several papers before they submit their dissertation.

DAMTP also promotes and encourages researcher development and transferable skills training. This can take the form of assisting with Part III catch-up lectures, attendance at skills based training sessions, or presenting their work at seminars and conferences. The University also offers training via the Researcher Development Programme.

There is no requirement for PhD students to teach but it is encouraged, there are plenty of opportunities to do so such as offering supervisions for third year undergraduates (this involves the supervisor sitting with a pair of students for an hour, discussing their work). PhD students might help too with running examples classes for Part III students.

Academic Entry Requirements

The usual minimum entry requirement is a first class honours degree, awarded after a four-year course in mathematics, physics or engineering, or a three-year degree together with a one-year postgraduate course on advanced applied mathematics and theoretical physics. Please note that a very large majority of the successful applicants for PhD studentships with the High Energy Physics (HEP), General Relativity & Cosmology (GR), and Quantum Information (QI) groups will have taken Part III of the Mathematical Tripos.

Funding Opportunities

Applicants with Home or European Union (EU) fee-status will be considered by the Department for a Research Council award.  Home students, and those EU students who have completed three years of full-time higher education in the UK immediately prior to commencing the PhD,  will be considered for a full studentship (including 3.5 years of maintenance). Other EU students will be considered for fees-only support. Receipt of this funding is not guaranteed and all applicants, irrespective of fee-status, are expected to apply to other funding schemes for which they are eligible.  Applicants are advised to investigate potential sources of funding as early as possible.

Other funding opportunities for students studying in DAMTP include:

Students should consult the Graduate Admissions website for details of the University Graduate Funding Competition and other University wide funding opportunities.

How to apply

All applications for graduate study must be made via the University’s Graduate Admissions Office and details on the process for application and the supporting documentation required is provided on their website. It is important that applicants read all the relevant information and collate the necessary supporting documents prior to starting the application process. Applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee per application.

Applicants are encouraged to make informal contact with potential supervisors prior to making an application. Applicants should clearly state in the relevant field of the application form the subject area in which they intend to undertake research as determined under 'Research Topics' above.  If possible they should mention which DAMTP research group(s) they would like to consider their application. We do not expect applicants to submit a detailed research proposal. 

All applicants are required to submit two references, for MASt students this should be an updated reference which covers your performance in the final year at your previous institution. MMath students must include one from their College Director of Studies.

Students who are currently or have previously undertaken the MASt (ie. Part IIII students who came from outside Cambridge) should apply as a student for continuation/readmission. All other students (including those on the MMath) should apply for admission as a graduate student. If you are a Cambridge student you should include one reference from your College Director of Studies.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The Department would particularly welcome applications from women, since women are, and have historically been, underrepresented in our student cohorts.

Please ensure that you use the correct course code when making your application: MAAM21

Deadlines and Offers

Those wishing to do a PhD in DAMTP are strongly encouraged to apply by the end of January for admission in October. However, later applications will still be considered where possible (up until the general University deadline). Applicants wishing to explore the possibility of a later start date (January or April) should contact DAMTP prior to submitting an application. Applicants will only be considered for admission in January or April in exceptional circumstances.

Earlier application deadlines apply for:

Notification of decisions

Most decisions and offers will be made in March/April. Once a decision has been taken on your application the result will appear on your CamSiS Self-Service page.  If your application is successful and you are made a conditional offer you will be able to access the details of your offer and what you need to do in order to confirm your place via your CamSiS Self-Service page. We strongly advise students to regularly check their account for updates on the progress of their application. If you do receive an offer, you are advised to meet the conditions made as soon as possible. This is particularly important if you require a visa to study in the UK.

Postgraduate Open Day

The Faculty will be involved in the University's Postgraduate Open Day on Friday 1 November 2019. Click here for further information and a timetable.


If you have queries please contact the Faculty Graduate Office at