Doing a PhD in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is a highly rewarding experience. You will carry out your research in a friendly and supportive environment, supervised by academics who are leaders in their field, using well-equipped laboratories and research facilities, alongside students from all over the world. We have around 100 students enrolled on a PhD at a time. The School has a vibrant PhD student mentoring programme and a student-led Research Culture Committee.
The School’s research is focused around six interconnected research themes: Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, Future Aircraft, Composite Materials and Structures, Simulation Technologies, Clean Energy and Biomaterials and Biomechanics.
PhD opportunities are available in a wide range of subjects aligned to the specific expertise of our PhD supervisors. Many are linked with leading companies and organisations.
Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in the research activities undertaken within the School. Students attend international conferences and participate in relevant external academic and industrial networks worldwide.
The School has strong links with both local and international engineering employers and has longstanding relationships with companies such as Airbus, Caterpillar, ExxonMobil, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren F1 and Rolls-Royce.
PhD research contributes to major interdisciplinary centres in the University, including:
Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE)
Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC)
Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC)
The School has well-equipped laboratories and great research facilities. PhD students share offices alongside postdoctoral staff. The School has a Research Culture Committee to enhance the research environment of the School and support PhD students.
Employment after the Course
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in industry, industry or become entrepreneurs.
You will carry out leading research under the guidance of your supervisory team. A full-time student will normally complete in three years (up to a maximum of four), or part-time over six years (up to a maximum of eight).
The research will usually be in one of the key, interlinked research themes in the School, and the subtopics they cover, include:
Advanced Manufacturing and Processing - cost modelling, ergonomics, intelligent control, laser processing, life cycle analysis, material characterisation, mechatronics, parallel kinematic machines, polymer processing, robotics and ultra-precision manufacturing.
Future Aircraft - aero engines, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, aircraft operations, design and analysis, optimisation and structural testing.
Composite Materials and Structures -damage mechanics and crashworthiness, material characterisation, multifunctional composites and nano-enhanced composites.
Simulation Technologies - FEA/CFD/EFG/DES/MD, kinematic modelling, meshing, multiscale/Multiphysics, optimisation, simulation intent, systems modelling, uncertainty quantification, virtual testing and design visual analytics and big data.
Clean Energy - biofuels, catalysis, life cycle assessment, power systems, turbomachinery and waste management.
Biomaterials and Biomechanics - biomimetics, material characterisation, mechanobiology and medical devices.
Also, over the course of study, you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School, or other internal and external training courses organised through your supervisor.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check with us the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component (*taken within the last 2 years) is required.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for the English language for visa purposes.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
Northern Ireland (NI) 1: £4,500
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2: £4,500
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1: £4,500
EU Other 3: £22,000
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however, this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however, this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22 and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.