What You Do
Particle physics experiments are generally large pieces of apparatus situated at major laboratories around the world e.g. CERN, Fermilab, DESY, or Paul Scherrer Institut. The experiments are typically built and operated by multi-national collaborations, of which you would become a member and play a full role on the experiment. Although these collaborations can be large, you can still expect to have a well-defined project, working with your supervisors and other collaboration members. Your thesis work, possibly along with other work completed during your PhD, is usually published by the collaboration in academic journals and/or shown at international conferences (by you where possible!).
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 to be 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.