Chemical Engineering MPhil and PhD

The Department of Chemical Engineering is a multidisciplinary centre focusing on research into future sustainable materials and technologies. The MPhil and PhD combine taught research training and applied research practice.

Candidates join the Department as a member of the Research Centre in which they initially have a broad research interest and that will have overseen their acceptance into the Department.

See full programme for more details.

Main areas of research

We carry out internationally recognised research aiming to address the challenges of today’s chemical, materials, pharmaceutical, biochemical, biomedical, water and waste treatment industries, in four key global challenge areas:

  • water
  • energy
  • food, health and wellbeing
  • sustainable processes.

Our research covers the whole spectrum of project types - from fundamental and blue skies research and innovation, through to industrial scale development and implementation – providing flexibility, breadth and depth to our research training, collaboration and consultancy.

The key advantage of our research expertise is that we have a key underpinning strength in Sustainable Chemical Engineering and Processes (supported by the Centre of Sustainable Chemical Technologies) which runs through all of our research.

Our Department is friendly and close-knit, and research groups work together to exchange ideas and implement innovation and development across the whole spectrum of chemical engineering. We have strong connections with industry and collaborate proactively with pharmacists, chemists, mathematicians, physicists, biochemists and biologists, managers, economists, mechanical engineers and educators on many projects worldwide.

Our research activities are overseen by our Director of Research (Dr Darrell Alec Patterson) and grouped into four main areas:

Our staff are involved in several multidisciplinary Research Centres and clusters:

We also conduct research projects, train research students and support three EPSRC funded Centre’s of Doctoral Training (CDTs):


This is a dynamic department, actively pursuing advanced research in many areas of chemical, biochemical and biomedical engineering, and also offering taught Masters courses. The Department is internationally recognised for its contributions to research, many of which are achieved in partnership with industry and prestigious research organisations. Our staff are highly skilled with excellent international reputations, and our facilities are amongst the best in the country.

Facilities and equipment

The Department has a full range of research facilities with pilot plants for all major areas of research. Our analytical facilities include gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), UV-VIS, FTIR and Raman, photon correlation spectroscopy (PCS), microcalorimetry, adsorption measurement systems, surface and pore structure analysis systems and particle sizing equipment. Within the University, there is access to atomic force, scanning and transmission electron microscopes.

International and industrial links

We have active links with UK universities - Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, Leeds, Imperial College, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, Edinburgh - and with European institutions including the CNRS laboratory at Toulouse and Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland together with the Universities of Alicante, Delft, Oveido, Porto, Paris, Aachen and Wroclaw.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

We are proud of our research record: 89% of our research was graded as either world-leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, placing us 10th in the UK for our submission to the Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Careers information

We are committed to ensuring that postgraduate students acquire a range of subject-specific and generic skills during their research training including personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and career management. Most of our graduates take up research, consultancy or process and product development and managerial appointments in the commercial sector, or in universities or research institutes.

Other resources

Postgraduate students are encouraged to become members of professional societies and to present the results of their research at national and international scientific meetings. The Department runs a vibrant weekly research seminar programme where students are given the opportunity to present their research.