Research course

Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (EPSRC CDT)

University of Cambridge · Department of Physics

Entry requirements

At least a 2:1 UK four-year “undergraduate master’s” (honours) degree or a UK three-year bachelor’s (Honours) degree plus a relevant one- or two- year master’s degree (pass) or equivalent.

Applicants with undergraduate degrees only will not usually be considered, although some 4-year programmes with strong research component may be eligible for entry.

Please note that these are higher entry requirements than the University of Cambridge sets for postgraduate degrees in other departments.

Months of entry


Course content

This cutting-edge Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (SynTech) aims to develop a new generation of leaders in synthetic chemistry research with a focus on Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence-driven techniques.

The SynTech CDT will create a unique and rewarding research & training environment. Students from a range of backgrounds will work at the interface of scientific disciplines to automate chemical synthesis, accelerate the design & production of small molecules for any application, and in doing so address new translational challenges that will inevitably emerge.

The full-time four-year programme will provide excellent interdisciplinary, cohort-based postgraduate training, with opportunities to learn about key subject areas such as:

  • chemical synthesis;
  • high-throughput experimentation;
  • sustainability of chemical processes;
  • drug/agrochemical discovery;
  • process scale-up & model development;
  • chemical informatics;
  • computational parameterization; and
  • machine learning & associated data-driven science.

During this time, students will complete a comprehensive Core Skills Training Programme in their first six months followed by an extended research project for the award of the PhD.

In addition, they will be equipped with a broad set of complementary scientific skills including ethics and integrity, science communication in media, business & research. As such, there is a non-compulsory opportunity to participate in entrepreneurship leadership skills training through the framework of an innovation development project. There is also the possibility to undertake a 2-3month placement in a partner company.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:

  • become exposed to all aspects of our CDT and become familiar with the challenges & difficulties inherent to each, such that they can streamline solutions to tomorrow’s translational science challenges;
  • acquired a broad set of complementary scientific skills relevant for the CDT and a solid understanding of Responsible Research & Innovation;
  • demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research;
  • taken up relevant and highly useful researcher development training opportunities to develop skills and attributes for their desired future career;
  • Chemists will have core & state of the art synthetic skills, in addition to knowledge of cheminformatics, computational parameterization and ML/AI concepts;
  • Theoreticians & data-scientists of all backgrounds will have an understanding of the challenges & demands of synthetic chemistry & process engineering and how ML & AI solutions might be realized from a partnership with experts to solve challenging problems;
  • Chemical engineers will have an understanding of the practical challenges provided by synthetic chemistry & the difficulties they need to consider when, for example, translating synthesis to robotic systems, as well as how synthetic chemists & theoreticians might work with them to design experiments and facilitate these processes.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

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

Course contact details