Research degrees

The Faculty offers three research degrees: MSc by Research, MPhil and PhD. These are potentially available in every School and subject area. Research students are a key and valued part of the activities of the Faculty: they help to build a strong research reputation, are vital members of the Research Centres of Excellence, assist in some of the labs, and occasionally help with teaching undergraduate students.

As a research student, you will be part of an ambitious Faculty that offers fantastic opportunities for inter-disciplinary research and experience, a great research student community, world-class facilities, and the opportunity to develop contacts with external organisations in close collaboration with the Faculty. You will also be able to take part in a broad programme of research training, present your work at conferences and poster days, and attend workshops, seminar series, lectures from external speakers, and other activities organised by the Faculty and the Research Centres.

All research degrees are programmes of independent study at the end of which you are expected to produce a dissertation or thesis and to defend this at a viva voce (oral) examination. The exact nature of this research will vary with the subject studied. Some may involve extensive fieldwork or laboratory testing, whilst others may be more theory-based.

The research areas covered by the Faculty include environmental change, geological and crustal processes, fire and explosion studies, computer vision and machine learning, molecular electronics and photonics, construction materials and sustainable technology, mobile information and network technologies, biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences research.

Currently there are more than 220 research students across the Faculty, many of whom have successfully secured studentships, industry sponsorship or University and Faculty funding. Any opportunities for funding for research degrees are advertised on these pages when they become available.

Scholarship opportunity: Air Charter Service PhD Scholarship

Air Charter Service is offering a full-time PhD scholarship comprising full tuition fees and a maintenance grant of £20,000 for one Home student undertaking practical and applied research into a topic aimed at improving the efficiency and/or reducing the environmental impact and/or improving the sustainability of current engine, flight, fuel, or aerodynamics technology.

The start date of the PhD is 3 October 2022.

Am I eligible?

To be considered for Air Charter Service's Scholarship, you must:

  • be considered a Home fee student
  • have either an Upper Second or First Class Honours degree. A Masters degree and some research experience would be beneficial but is not essential.

Air Charter Service is also keen to use its scholarship to tackle the issue of ethnic diversity at PhD level. Therefore, top priority will be given to students who identify as from a Black or minority ethnic background.

What is Air Charter Service?

Based in Surbiton, Air Charter Service (ACS) is one of the world's leading aircraft charter companies arranging over 25,000 flights every year from a network of offices across the globe. The business was founded in 1990 by Chris Leach in the basement of his house in Kingston upon Thames, assisted by then Kingston University student Justin Bowman who went on to become CEO of the company.

The company sources both passenger and cargo aircraft for a huge range of clients and purposes from humanitarian relief operations to music tours.

Why is Air Charter Service offering this scholarship?

Aviation is, and always will be, a key element of the global economy. However, like most modern industries, there is no denying it has a negative environmental impact. Whilst Air Charter Service has been offsetting carbon for its internal operations since 2007 it has a long term vision to help reduce the long term environmental impact of the sector.

To this end, the company is keen to support initiatives aimed at achieving greater environmental sustainability for the aviation industry. Air Charter Service already supports a number of projects with this wider aim and has now decided to partner with Kingston University to launch the Air Charter Service Scholarship to fund specific research into aviation sustainability.

Whilst recognising that the long-term solution is likely to feature some form of radically new electric, or similar engine and alternative fuel technology, Air Charter Service believes that there is much to be gained in the immediate term by supporting improvements to existing propulsion methods.

PhD project ideas that will be considered for this scholarship

Project ideas are listed below.

Applicants may submit their own project proposal, but it must be on a topic aimed at improving the efficiency and/or reducing the environmental impact and/or improving the sustainability of current engine, flight, fuel, or aerodynamics technology – projects which do not meet these criteria will not be considered.

You must also have the support of a potential supervisor, and include this person's name in your project proposal. Information about staff research interests is available on the University's staff pages and at People in Science, Engineering and Computing Kingston University.

Project Title: Aerothermal Optimisation Study of a High-Pressure Turbine Blade Tip exposed to In-Service Thermal Damages

  • First supervisor: Dr Zainab Saleh
  • The aero-propulsion sector is continually seeking to reduce fuel consumption, costs and environmental pollution. Gas turbine engines form a significant part of this sector and their development is a key approach to meet fuel reduction targets. One approach to enhance these engines is to increase the temperature at the inlet of the High Pressure Turbine (HPT), however, this exposes the HPT blades to significant thermal load and damages. The blade tip is exposed to much higher heat load, therefore it is recognised as a critical area for design improvement within the HPT.
    The longer the blade is in service the more eroded its edges become, this is known as the in-service burnout effect. This effect changes the flow characteristics over the blade tip and increases losses due to the tip flows, which contributes to the 30% of the total loss in the turbine stage. Therefore, it is significantly important to study the tip flows using realistic models i.e. tips exposed to in-service burnout, there is a very large knowledge gap about this in the literature. This investigation aims to perform an optimisation aerothermal study of the in-service burnout effect on a typical high pressure turbine blade of gas turbine engine.

Project Title: Feasibility Study on Use of Ballonets For Reduced Aviation Fuel Consumption

  • First supervisor: Professor Andy Augousti
  • This study uses the concept of fish swim bladders, ballonets and buoyancy control in submarines, to explore how helium, hydrogen, or a combination of both, can be used to provide lift to get planes to their typical cruising altitude. The study will also explore how the energy produced in this process can be recovered as air recompresses the lifting gases in the ballonets as it comes back down. The study and its potential findings have the potential to drastically cut down on aviation fuel and the industry's carbon footprint, especially for short- and medium-haul flights

Project Title: Steady-State Aerodynamic Characteristics of Morphing Wing With Both Variable Trailing And Leading Edges In Lift High Applications

  • First supervisor: Dr Sing Lo
  • There have been strong interests in applying innovative morphing wings to the next generation passenger-carrying jets, eco-friendly electric aircraft and drones to improve aerodynamic efficiency, aligning with the sustainability development in future aviation. The most common morphing wings are either flexible trailing-edge or leading-edge types. This study investigates the steady-state characteristics of both wings with Leading-Edge (TL)and Trailing-Edge (TE) morphing using the NACA 0012 at the same conditions in recent computational studies. The originality and added value of the current proposal is that we will evaluate the combined effects of variable leading edge and trailing edge together, as most previous studies focused primarily on morphing trailing edge alone. In addition, the effects of the length of the LE morphing "slat" and TE morphing "flap" will be investigated in the parametric study. Currently, there is a gap in how we can effectively implement the fundamental research results of simple symmetrical aerofoils to real-world applications in electric aircraft and unmanned drones. By deploying both morphing leading and trailing edges simultaneously, it is possible to achieve a higher life-to-drag ratio and much better pre-and after stall performance, which will be desirable for short-distance take-off and landing flight conditions.

Project Title: Multidisciplinary Structural Design Optimisation of High-Aspect-Ratio Aircraft Wing Equipped with Electric Distributed Propulsion System

  • First supervisor: Dr Odeh Dababneh
  • The main idea behind the distributed propulsion aircraft is that it can be used to produce an aerodynamic efficiency advantage, reducing the need for cruise thrust, therefore reducing fuel burn independently. This research will investigate and implement some new prospective technologies to move forward with this design concept.

Project Title: Aerodynamic and Aero-acoustic Performance Optimisation for the eVTOL Wing in Air-taxi concept.

  • First supervisor: Dr Yujing Lin
  • There have recently been many concepts for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in urban air mobility scenario for both short and mid-range applications. The idea of this project is to make use of modern high-fidelity CFD simulation to assess various concepts suitability and optimise their aerodynamics and aeroacoustics (noise) performance by shape optimisation. Passive and active flow control techniques will be developed and applied to achieve a given multi-objective flight mission requirements.

How do I apply?

Students wishing to be considered for this scholarship should complete an online application form, available here: How to apply for a research degree (PhD, Professional Doctorate, MPhil, MA/MSc by Research) - Research degrees - Research - Kingston University London. The following supporting documents should be uploaded with the application:

  • Your academic certificates and transcripts
  • Your full CV
  • Your statement of application (please see the statement of application information below, which must be used). The statement of application is separate from a personal statement and must be included for your application to be considered.
  • A full project proposal and timeline for either one of the projects above or your own project (if you are proposing your own project, you must have the support of a potential supervisor and include this person's name in your project proposal). Guidance on how to write a project proposal is available at Preparing a research proposal - Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing - Kingston University

You will be asked to name two referees on your application form. References should be from professional or academic contacts and cannot be from family members or friends. At least one reference should be from someone who knows you from your most recent academic qualification.  A reference cannot be provided by the project supervisor.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline to apply for this scholarship is: 13:00, 17 June 2022.

Interviews will take place in the weeks beginning 18 and 25 July. 

Applicants selected for interview will be informed as soon as possible after the closing date. You should assume that your application has been unsuccessful if you have not heard from the University by four weeks after the closing date.

What to include on your statement of application

Your statement of application should be a maximum of 500 words. Please use the headings detailed below.

  1. Why do you want to do a PhD? Signing up for a PhD is a big undertaking. We need to know that you understand the commitment required for research and have a passion for your subject.
  2. Do you identify as from a Black or minority ethnic background?
  3. Why Kingston University? What makes you keen to study at Kingston?
  4. Why this subject area? What is it about the area you have chosen that inspires you?
  5. What will be the impact of your research and who will be reading it? The impact of your research is how it will bring change to the wider society beyond academia (eg. economy, society, culture, public policy, health, the environment and quality of life - both within the UK and overseas). Who are the wider audiences for your research, perhaps in professional practice, policy-making, popular culture? Who do you want to reach with your research? How might you do so?
  6. Your academic and/or professional background: How will your skills and expertise help you successfully complete your research project?
  7. What personal qualities do you have that make you suited to PhD research? For example: resilience and tenacity.
  8. Assessment of personal development needs: A PhD is all about training to be a researcher. What knowledge and skills will you need to develop to conduct the proposed research? How can we support your personal development?

Duration

The length of time it takes to complete a research degree varies depending on the mode of attendance:

  • MSc by Research Full-time - 1 year
  • MSc by Research Part-time - 2 years
  • MPhil Full-time - 2 years (with optional additional 1 year writing up)
  • MPhil Part-time - 4 years (with optional additional 1 year writing up)
  • PhD Full-time - 3 years (with optional additional 1 year writing up)
  • PhD Part-time - 6 years (with optional additional 1 year writing up)
  • PhD by Publication/Portfolio - view special conditions >

Entry requirements

To apply for all of our research degrees you should have a first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant area. For consideration for a PhD, a masters degree and some research experience would be beneficial.

If you are not from a recognised majority English speaking country, or have not studied at a British university before, you will need to show proof of English language ability (IELTS minimum 6.5 overall (or equivalent)). Please visit the language requirements page for further information.

For further information on all the documentation needed to consider your application, please see our how to apply page. Please ensure that you have contacted a potential supervisor before applying, and that they have confirmed their support, as you are required to state their name on the application form.

Supervisors

We take great care to ensure that you're well supported with appropriately experienced, specialist supervisors. Your supervisory team will consist of:

  • First Supervisor (FS) - who has subject expertise relevant to your research project, and who will be your principal tutor over the course of your studies. You will be expected to meet with your First Supervisor at regular intervals.
  • Second supervisor - who will support your First Supervisor by providing additional advice and expertise, perhaps from a different perspective or methodology.
  • Third supervisor - if your project is inter-disciplinary, or needs further specialist support, you may have a third supervisor who may be external to Kingston University.

You can investigate potential supervisors in our research interests directory.

Fees

A tuition fee is charged each year.  For more information about tuition fees please see the research fees page. The amount shown is for one year of registration only. Note that the tuition fee is subject to annual review and may increase each year.

An additional bench fee will be charged each year: this is a contribution towards the resources for the project and other related costs. The amount charged varies, depending on the project; it will be stated in the offer letter sent to successful applicants.

Application deadline

Applications are accepted at any time of year, but there are two entry points, October and March.

We aim to process applications as quickly as possible, but it can sometimes take 4-6 weeks for all the paperwork to be in order. Only when all the required paperwork (including two references) has been received can it be submitted for Faculty approval. Once an application has been approved the applicant is then invited to interview; an offer can only be made after an applicant has had a successful interview.

Living costs

View an estimate of the living costs of studying in Kingston.

For more information about fees please view the research fees page. An additional bench fee will be charged and this will be discussed at interview.