Research course

Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

University of Cambridge · Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK First class Honours degree.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

This is a three year research programme culminating in submission and examination of a dissertation, or thesis, containing substantial original work. PhD students carry out their research under the guidance of a supervisor, and research projects are available from the wide range of subjects studied within the Department. Students admitted for a PhD will normally have completed preparatory study at a level comparable to the Cambridge Part III (MMath/MASt) course. A signifcant number of our PhD students secure post-doctoral positions at institutions around the world and become leading researchers in their fields.


Students must be well prepared before they can begin a PhD. Many students in DAMTP are admitted after taking the Cambridge Part III (MMath/MASt) course and others will have completed a comparable four-year undergraduate course. Some may already have carried out a small-scale research project. All of our students therefore begin their PhD work with a good grasp of advanced material, on which they can build as their research progresses.

Research Areas

Research in DAMTP can be divided into the following broad areas: Applied and Computational Analysis, Astrophysics, Geophysics, Fluid and Solid Mechanics, Mathematical Biology, Quantum Information, High Energy Physics, and General Relativity and Cosmology. The boundaries between such areas are not rigid, however, and many members of staff will contribute to more than one area (this is regarded as a key factor in the continuing success of DAMTP). There are active seminar programmes across all subject areas, attendance at which is an important part of PhD student training.

PhD Supervision

Each PhD student in DAMTP has a supervisor who is responsible for guiding their research and monitoring their progress. Each student is admitted to work within a particular subject area, and often with a specific supervisor. Some students will work in close collaboration with their supervisor, or as part of a larger research group, while others may work more independently (with their supervisor's approval). Collaborative projects may involve other researchers or groups outside Cambridge, in the UK or worldwide.

Progress during the course

Students in DAMTP are admitted on a probationary basis in the first instance and are assessed for registration after roughly one year of work. Two assessors are assigned to consider the academic progress of each student, including a record of their attendance at seminars and other related activities. Each student receives a detailed appraisal and interview during the fourth term of their research and progress continues to be monitored throughout their PhD through regular on-line supervision reports.

Students are encouraged to give talks and seminars within the department, and to present their findings at conferences or meetings, once the time is right. Many students submit a prize essay at the beginning of their fifth term and the best essays each year meet the standards expected of publishable work. We regard it as particularly important that our students submit their work for publication in leading journals, as well as to web-based archives, and many will already have several papers in circulation when they come to write their dissertation. Additional support and advice for students is available at any stage of their PhD through a system of designated departmental advisors, as well as from members of the DAMTP Graduate Education Committee.

Working Environment

DAMTP is part of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, or CMS. The site is shared with the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics and also with the Isaac Newton Institute and the Betty and Gordon Moore Library (the main university mathematical science library). CMS provides a modern, comfortable and well-equipped working environment for PhD students, facilitating day-to-day contact with academic staff and other students.

Additional training and opportunities

All students in DAMTP can benefit from a wide variety of additional courses and training opportunities. There is no taught element to the PhD degree in terms of university regulations, but some students are required to attend relevant taught courses (e.g. Part III lectures) as a condition of their funding. In addition to the wide range of lectures and seminars on offer in DAMTP and CMS, the Department actively promotes and encourages Researcher Development and transferable skills training (e.g. sessions on improving communication skills, organisational and leadership skills, teaching in small groups, presenting work at seminars or conferences, and applying for postdoctoral positions). Some of these workshops are coordinated with the centrally run Researcher Development Programme which is open to all students of the University, others are run by the Faculty of Mathematics.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details