We welcome applications to join the Particle Cosmology Group as a postgraduate student and carry out research for a PhD degree. Details of the Groups' interests can be found in our research and people pages.
All PhD applications must be made centrally, through the Researcher Academy. The deadline for PhD applications is 26th January 2024. You can find further details on how to apply here. Please state your interest in the Particle Cosmology group on your application. Once you have submitted your application, please also send a brief email containing your application ID to the particle cosmology admissions coordinator, David Stefanyszyn.
We particularly welcome applications for PhDs funded by the Bell Burnell Scholarship (beta.iop.org/bellburnellfund) from applicants who are elegible for home/UK fees and belong to a currently under-represented group in Physics. For example students who are female, from a black, asian, or minority ethnic background, or who have experienced other hurdles to their success as a physicist. The deadline for applications for this Scholarship scheme is the 17th of November 2023. Please contact David Stefanyszyn for more details or to express your interest.
Below is a list of potential PhD projects to begin in September/October 2024. However, other projects will also be available and can be discussed with applicants. If the projects listed below do not align with your research interests, we still encourage you to apply and ask you to clearly state in your application what your interests are.
Dark matter: from the early Universe to the Milky Way
Understanding the nature of dark matter is one of the main outstanding problems of both astronomy and particle physics. Particle Physics provides us with various well motivated dark matter candidates, such as WIMPs, axions and Primordial Black Holes. To detect dark matter we need to understand how it's distributed, which depends on the formation and evolution of the first dark matter structures. Projects in this area involve varying mixtures of theory/data-comparison, analytic/numerical calculations and astro/particle physics. A specific project would be formulated after discussions with the student, taking into account their skills and interests. This PhD studentship is led by Anne Green
Quantum searches for fundamental scalars
The Standard Models of Particle Physics and Cosmology are unable to explain the nature of the two most dominant components in our universe, dark matter, comprising 25%, and dark energy comprising 70%. The introduction of additional light scalar fields has been proposed as a candidate for both of these components and understanding the allowed properties and phenomenology of such scalars is now a key topic of cosmological research. New light scalar fields mediate new long range fifth forces which can affect the motion of test particles. This project will explore the constraints that can be put on such theories from near future experiments using high precision quantum technologies, for example atom interferometry, as well as developing proposals for new experiments exploiting the complex phenomenology of such theories to enable detection. This PhD studentship is led by Clare Burrage
Gravitational wave predictions for tests of the electroweak phase transition
Understanding the thermal history of the electroweak sector is an important objective for both particle physics and cosmology, and one which is intimately connected to other fundamental questions, such as the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry. The Higgs boson lies at the centre of this, being responsible for electroweak symmetry breaking, through which it lends mass to the other elementary particles of the Standard Model. A first-order electroweak phase transition would provide the departure from equilibrium necessary for creation of the matter-antimatter asymmetry. In addition, the expansion and collisions of bubbles during the transition would have produced a stochastic gravitational wave background, observable in the mHz frequency range today.
PhD projects in this area would be theoretical, and would aim to develop the underlying quantum field theory description of cosmological phase transitions. This is crucial for making reliable predictions for future gravitational wave observatories. Projects may focus on analytical or numerical approaches, and a specific project would be formulated after discussions with the student, taking into account their skills and interests. This PhD studentship is led by Oliver Gould
Further information on the admissions procedure can be found here. All applications should be made online here where the prospectus can also be found. Once you have submitted your application, please also send a brief email containing your application ID to the particle cosmology admissions coordinator, David Stefanyszyn.