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MPhil/PhD Research Degrees – Materials and Engineering Research Institute

Study for a higher degree by research in our Materials and Engineering Research institute. You train in research methods and complete a high level research project in a research institute where 75 per cent of our staff were judged to be internationally leading.

Course description

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

A higher degree by research involves training in research methods and systematic, high level study of a research project. The nature of the work and the time it takes to finish the research means a research degree is demanding and needs great commitment.

You must present your results in a thesis, explain the methods used in your research and defend them in an oral examination.

To get an MPhil you must critically investigate and evaluate an approved topic and display an understanding of suitable research methods.

For a PhD you must also make an independent and original contribution to knowledge.

Split PhD

A split PhD is a research degree programme which is ideal if you are an international student wanting to study from your home country. You register for a Sheffield Hallam University PhD and spend some time studying in Sheffield but are substantially based in your home country.

The balance of study between us and the overseas university is agreed between you and your supervisors, depending on the needs of your research programme.

The benefits of studying on the split PhD scheme include

• you can complete fieldwork in your home country, in an area directly linked to your professional or career development interests

• access to local facilities and supervisory support in your home country combined with the expert supervisory guidance of our academics

• short, intensive periods of face-to-face working with a dedicated supervisory team in Sheffield, while enjoying the educational, social and cultural benefits of studying in the UK

You may be able to study abroad as part of the Erasmus programme.

Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI)

MERI is a multi-disciplinary research institute encompassing four research centres each with their own specialist groups operating within them. We undertake high quality academic research across a range of disciplines and apply this research knowledge in a commercial and industrial context. Research areas include • polymers and composites • solar energy • structural integrity and corrosion • functional coatings • simulation and modelling • robotics.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise we were the leading post–92 university in metallurgy and materials (UoA29). 75 per cent of our staff were judged to be internationally leading and we obtained a Times Higher Education average score of 2.15 reflecting the quality of our work and world class staff.

Our staff include • chemists • materials scientists • physicists • computer scientists • mechanical, electronic and electrical engineers, all working on individual or collaborative projects shared between research centres. Supported by a £6m equipment base, which will shortly undergo a £4m refurbishment, this inter-disciplinary approach enables us to solve complex problems ranging from fracture of artificial implants through to designing surfaces that can withstand frictional temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees centigrade. Solutions to these kinds of problems put MERI at the top in terms of industrial collaboration.

The Materials Research and Analysis Service (MARS) is also a key strength in the research institute, established to provide regional business with access to research facilities and analysis, which enhances the capability of companies in terms of new and improved products.

Evidence of MERI’s research strength is reflected in the patent portfolio that currently consists of 22 granted patents with another 17 applications in progress.

MERI is made up of five centres of excellence

• the Thin Films Research Centre

• the Centre for Automation and Robotics Research

• the Polymers Nanocomposites and Modelling Research Centre

• the Structural Materials and Integrity Research Centre

• Materials Analysis and Research Services, Centre for Industrial Collaboration (MARS) (CIC)

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Typically you need

• an appropriate masters degree or an honours degree 2.1 or above, from a UK higher education institution


• a qualification the University considers as being equivalent. Other qualifications and experience are considered on their merits.

You must also complete an interview in person or by phone with the prospective director of studies and provide two satisfactory references.

If you do not have such academic qualifications we may consider your application individually, based on your personal, professional and work experience, and other formal qualifications. You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

International students

Overseas applicants from countries whose first language is not English must normally produce evidence of competence in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 with 5.5 in all skills (or equivalent) is the standard for non-native speakers of English. If your English language skill is currently below an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English level. An offer of a research degree place may be made subject to a completing our Pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes course.

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

PhD (subject to confirmation)
Full-time – three years research, plus an optional year for writing up
Part-time – five years research, plus an optional year for writing up

Full-time – two years research
Part-time – three years research

Split PhD
Students normally spend most of their time in their home country but come to the University for at least three months a year.

Typical modules may include

Research training

All doctoral researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have the opportunity to develop a range of research, personal and professional skills during the course of their programme. Transferable skills training as a key component of undertaking a PhD or professional doctorate is required by the University regulator, expected by research funders, and promoted by the University as part of its commitment to 'education for employment'.

Sheffield Hallam's approach

Sheffield Hallam recognises that all doctoral researchers arrive at the start of their programme with different experiences and career plans. Therefore doctoral skills training is, as far as possible, needs-based and individually-tailored. Rather than being required to complete a set training programme, each doctoral researcher's development needs are identified and jointly agreed with their supervisory team at the start of the degree, and these are regularly reviewed and updated as appropriate.

Training and development

An extensive range of training and development opportunities are available to doctoral researchers through the doctoral skills training series and MERI-based training.

MERI training:

Skills training for postgraduate research

This course will comprise 4 main sessions:

• getting the most out of supervision

• development needs analysis and personal development plans

• research integrity and intellectual property

• getting the most out of conferences

All of the sessions are mandatory for all MERI research students.

Weekly seminar programme

Speakers are invited weekly to discuss their latest research with our staff and students.

Research ethics

This session introduces you to the principle of research ethics and the Sheffield Hallam procedures for ethical clearance. It will also involve you doing an initial ethic checklist for your research project and introduce the online EPIGIUM module ethics 1, which all Sheffield Hallam research students must complete.


RefWorks is a web-based bibliographic system with which you can build up a database of all of your reference material. It is flexible and very powerful, particularly when it comes to outputting reference lists for papers and thesis.

Introduction to bibliographic databases

As a researcher it is vital to be able to access relevant high level information. Here you learn more sophisticated information retrieval skills and see how to use subject specific databases relevant to your research area.

Health and safety for postgraduate research

The session aims to provide clear health and safety guidelines for new postgraduate researchers around personal safety and safety of others within the university environment, including and laboratories & workshops.

Advanced measurement techniques

This module aims to equip you with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions on experimental materials analysis techniques. A number of techniques are demonstrated, the emphasis being on what each can achieve and the potentials for synergy from combining results obtained using from different techniques. This promotes effective decision making in research planning and operation, as well as a broad understanding of what different approaches can be used for.


MATLAB is a powerful programming language for numerical computations. It is employed in a range of industrial and academic environments. MATLAB has numerous built-in functions for engineering, physical, graphical, mathematical and computing applications. Besides this it has a variety of specialised toolboxes for specific applications, such as control systems, machine vision, signal processing and many others. MATLAB also has the symbolic toolbox that allows operating on symbolic expressions. In the first sessions we will cover MATLAB fundamentals, and the following sessions will be tailored to the specific research needs of attendees.

MERI research symposium event

The MERI Research Symposium is an excellent opportunity for both staff and students who are either active researchers, or who are interested in engaging in research, to meet with colleagues from across the faculty, to raise awareness of current research projects. The event will incorporate talks from academic staff and second year MERI PhD students, with poster presentations from final year undergraduate engineering students and first year MERI students.

Poster preparation

This course is aimed at first year students to give tips and techniques on how to prepare for the MERI Research Symposium Event, at which they will present a poster.

Talk preparation

All second year students are required to give a talk at the MERI Research Symposium Event. This course is designed to give advice on preparing and delivering an effective research talk.

Doctoral skills training series

teaching and lecturing courses (including the dedicated teaching skills for doctoral students course)

SHaRD programme (research staff sessions, which doctoral researchers are welcome to access)

library researcher sessions

PGR skills workshops

career management workshops

online courses

Assessment Thesis followed by oral examination


Research degrees are a vital qualification for most academic careers, and for professional specialisation and development in an existing or planned career. The rigorous analytical thinking they involve also demonstrates ability to potential employers in all areas of work.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Full-time – typically £4,121 a year
Part-time – typically £2,060 a year

Fees are aligned to Research Councils UK (RCUK) fees.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas.

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £16,200 a year (including bench fees)

2017/18 academic year

Typically £16,600 a year

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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