UCL HEP Postgraduate Study
The Standard Model of particle physics has been very successful in explaining a wealth of data over the past 40 years. However, we know it is incomplete and many questions remain un-answered. In particular:
- What generates the mass of particles and why do they take the values that they do?
- What is the nature of the neutrino?
- What is the nature of the strong force (QCD)?
- What physics lies beyond the Standard Model? Do supersymmetric particles exist? Is Dark Matter detectable ? Can a grand unified theory be realised?
- What are the origins and the properties of the highest energy cosmic rays?
We have a diverse research programme tackling these these key question in many different ways, and offer research degrees in both experimental and theoretical particle physics, across a broad range of topics. More information on our various interests can be found here. UCL an exciting and vibrant place to work and study, with the high-energy physics group including over 30 Ph.D. students, and each year we welcome several new students on a variety of research topics.
On this page you can find out some more about some of our previous students and the research degrees we offer. From the links on the left, you can find out more details about the structure of a Ph.D, the choice of Ph.D. projects we expect to offer this year, the application process and information on funding your studies.
UCL Ph.D Student Profiles
Sally Shaw completed her PhD in December 2016, working on understanding the nature of the Dark Matter that makes up 85% of the mass of the Universe. Dark Matter, yet to be observed directly, may be comprised of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs. Sally conducted research with the LUX experiment, operating a xenon filled time projection chamber 1.5 km underground in a former gold mine, seeking to detect the faint and rare signatures expected from WIMP interactions in the xenon target. Sally lead areas of the analysis that picked out and characterised very-low energy events in the data, contributing to final results from LUX in 2016 that set world-leading constraints on WIMP-nucleon interactions; pushing a factor 20 times further into electroweak parameter space in the search for Dark Matter. Sally also worked on Monte Carlo simulations for LUX’s successor experiment, LZ, that is presently under construction. LZ will be some 100 times more sensitive than LUX and Sally worked on the crucial background model to ensure the design and construction of the experiment would meet science goals.
Sally was involved in several public engagement activities at UCL, including Soapbox Science (watch here), the UCL Your Universe festival, the "Secret Cantina" for the Star Wars Secret Cinema, a poster presentation to MPs at the Houses of Parliament for the SET for Britain competition, and appearing on BBC's flagship news programme, Newsnight. Sally tweets as @agirliknow
After completing her PhD, Sally accepted the offer of a post-doctoral researcher to continue working on LZ with the group at University of California Santa Barbara alongside the project spokesperson.
Adam Davison completed his PhD on the ATLAS experiment, preparing to search for the Higgs boson. Some of his exploits have been captured in a series of movies: Colliding Particles. After completing a postdoctoral position at UCL, Adam moved to a tech startup and is now the Head of Insight and Data Science at The Economist.
Lily Asquith also completed her PhD recently, working on the ATLAS experiment. In an event at the Science Museum, Lily explains why the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider was such an exciting - and safe - event. After completing a postdoctoral position at the Argonne National Laboratory in the USA, Lily now holds a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship at the University of Sussex.
We offer two research opportunities for students:
UCL offers a taught Masters degree course, within which is it possible to carry out a research dissertation with the High Energy Physics group. Details can be found on the main Physics Department web page, and enquiries should be directed to physast.msc at ucl.ac.uk. It would also be useful to contact Dr Gavin Hesketh (gavin.hesketh AT ucl.ac.uk) if you are interested in carrying out a research dissertation in HEP.
We weclome applications from October each year, for Ph.D positions commencing the following October (there is some flexibility for special cases to start out of sequence). Places are offered based on the outcome of interviews, which are usually held in February. Details of how to apply and who to contact can be found on our Ph.D Applications page. The research topics we are offering each year are listed here.