What You Do
Particle physics experiments are generally large pieces of apparatus situated at major accelerator laboratories around the world e.g. CERN, Fermilab and DESY. These experiments are operated and built by large multi-national collaborations. The UCL HEP group has members in many of these international collaborations.
Each PhD student has a first and a second supervisor, both of whom are normally collaborative members of the experiment the student works on. The student joins the collaboration and plays a full role in meeting UCL responsibilities on the experiment. Although the collaborations are large, within them a UCL student can expect to have a well-defined project, working with their supervisors and other collaboration members. Usually UCL students have their thesis work published by the collaboration in academic journals and/or shown at international conferences (usually by the student themselves).
A normal pattern of PhD research would be:
- Year 1: University of London postgraduate courses, October-January, in conjunction with RHUL, Brunel and QMUL. Beginning research on an experiment in parallel, including attending collaboration meetings. Written first year report handed in at the beginning of September, with an oral presentation at the end of September. National Particle Physics Summer School in September.
- Year 2: Research on thesis topic. For experimental students, whose experiment is abroad: spend up to a year at the experiment. Usually attend an international summer school. Oral presentation of progress and plan for thesis presented at the end of the year.
- Year 3: Research on thesis topic, write up and hand in thesis. In the spring of the third year the student presents their thesis work at the Annual Institute of Physics High Energy Particle Physics Group meeting.
This is only a rough guide - details vary depending upon the project, student and supervisor. The UCL Graduate School also provides more general training courses.