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Join our EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (AAPS)

Combine distinctive training with doctoral research in automotive propulsion to equip you to become the research and technology leaders of the future.

Why join AAPS?

Our CDT goes beyond the traditional engineering disciplines to bring together students from backgrounds in sciences, mathematics and social sciences. You'll train in the skills needed to take the automotive sector in a new direction.

We have at least seven studentships available to join our new Centre for Doctoral Training in September 2019. You'll receive funding for four years, full-time study on our integrated MRes and PhD programme.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, you'll generate new and holistic ideas in automotive propulsion. You'll develop detailed knowledge in a specific subject area but you'll do this within the larger context of propulsion systems. This gives you the depth and breadth of knowledge needed to collaborate with professionals across disciplines in the automotive industry. Your training will help prepare you to work with the future engineers, scientists, policy makers and thought leaders in propulsion systems.

Subject areas include:

  • mathematics and data science
  • mechanical engineering
  • electrical engineering
  • environment, emissions and sustainability
  • biology and chemistry
  • chemical engineering
  • social science and psychology
  • business and management

Benefit from our expertise

You'll learn from academics with a wide range of expertise in mechanical and automotive engineering. Our CDT is also linked to the new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion (IAAPS). This specialist hub supports collaborative research with the automotive industry to develop future generations of ultra-low emissions vehicles.

A PhD and so much more

Our CDT also focuses on developing your core interpersonal skills throughout your training. You'll learn about and gain experience in:

  • responsible research methods
  • business practices
  • innovation and IP
  • leadership
  • impact and translation
  • cross-disciplinary working

This depth of knowledge and breadth of skills aims to equip you to take a lead role in addressing complex challenges in the UK automotive industry.

Our programme

Our programme integrates a one-year MRes with a three to four-year PhD to give you comprehensive training in advanced automotive propulsion. You can also take the PhD part time with the whole programme lasting a total of seven years.

Year 1: MRes

Your first year will focus on building a strong network within your cohort. This taught year will immerse you in the technologies, business processes, stakeholders and working practices of automotive propulsion. Teamwork with fellow students in our CDT will help you grow your skills in interdisciplinary collaboration. You'll also begin planning your thesis and finding academic and industrial partners to support your research.

Group projects

A key part of your MRes study involves a nine-month group project on the innovation process. You'll gain hands-on experience of user research, insights framework, developing prototypes and business cases.


Taught units in your first year include:

  • student-led symposia and integrative think tanks
  • automotive propulsion system technology
  • strategic and critical thinking
  • automotive propulsion systems evaluation
  • automotive business processes
  • automotive propulsion systems innovation
  • thesis formulation project

Integrative Think Tanks (ITT)

You'll take part in week-long workshops called Integrative Think Tanks. These are in research distillation and include academics, industrial partners and CDT students. The workshops give you the chance to explore and identify research opportunities that could become your PhD topic. As a cohort, you'll also have the opportunity to organise guest speakers, as well as deliver your own presentation at symposia.

Years 2 - 4: PhD

After your MRes, you'll move on to our integrated PhD where you'll conduct a substantial research project. You'll continue to be involved in student-led symposia and integrative think tanks where you'll present your developing research.

Research themes

  • future fuels
  • next generation electric propulsion
  • real-world emissions and driver behaviour
  • digital systems integration and optimisation
  • applications of mathematics in propulsion systems
  • responsible research and innovation along the road to zero


Take advantage of our established links with a range of companies and organisations in the automotive industry and go on placement.

We encourage all our students to take a placement during their PhD research phase. Placements in academia or industry are a great opportunity to gain experience of the workplace and develop valuable professional skills. They can help to build cross-disciplinary links and train you in other disciplines' research language. You'll continue with your research while you're on placement.

Find out how to apply

Apply now

Contact us

If you have any questions about our CDT or would just like an informal chat with someone from our team before applying, please email us.