Skip to main content

Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing (EPSRC Studentships)

This PhD degree programme is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing.

This PhD degree programme is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing. The centre is led by Cardiff University working closely with partner universities, Manchester and Sheffield, and University College London (UCL). The centre is also closely linked to the Compound Semiconductor Cluster, which is made up of a number of centres and companies working collaboratively to drive economic growth and to provide research and development in compound semiconductor technology and manufacturing.

The CDT will support postgraduate students to develop advanced knowledge and skills in compound semiconductor technology as well as developing research and professional skills and an understanding of the industry. Full EPSRC PhD studentships will be awarded to successful applicants.

The first year is comprised of a taught programme based upon either the MSc Compound Semiconductor Physics (optoelectronics) or the MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics, depending on the applicant’s interests and background, and will be undertaken at Cardiff University. You will also develop your PhD project alongside academic and industrial supervisors.

You will then decide on the area in which you wish to specialise, and which University best fits your needs. All four universities are at the forefront of compound semiconductor research and have state-of-the-art facilities and internationally recognised expertise to support your studies.

Programme aims

Compound Semiconductor (CS) materials are a Key Enabling Technology at the heart of modern society. They are central to the development of, for example, the 5G network, new energy efficient lighting, smart phones, satellite communications, power electronics for the next generation of electric vehicles and new imaging techniques.  These technologies support our connected world, our health, our security and the environment. The next generation of these technologies can only be achieved with a step change in CS manufacturing. The CS Manufacturing CDT is an essential core element in developing the skilled workforce to drive this change and support the emerging world leading CS Cluster.

Through this CDT we aim to provide outstanding PhD-level training, fully aligned with the needs of UK industry and co-created with IQE Plc, CSC Ltd, Newport Wafer Fab. Ltd and the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult. We are an alliance of four universities, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield Universities, UCL, and 24 companies, many already working closely together via the EPSRC Future CS Manufacturing Hub, with established excellence in CS disciplines, and will provide a distinctive but broad PhD training that is industrially relevant and intellectually challenging. Our vision is of PhD graduates equipped with the necessary skills to accelerate their own career trajectory and satisfy their personal ambitions, and in doing so, change the face of UK CS Manufacturing.

Distinctive features

  • Funded places, including fees, a generous stipend and travel allowance.
  • You can undertake your research project at one of four universities with full access to their expertise and facilities.
  • If you successfully complete the programme you will be awarded both an MSc and a PhD.
  • Personal tutor and mentoring across the four universities.
  • Specialist training will be provided by experts in their field, including our industrial partners.
  • Access to outstanding facilities in the Centre’s partner universities and companies.
  • You will be part of a programme which has been developed in conjunction with industry and is aligned with their needs.
  • In the first year you will be part of a supportive student community with its own dedicated postgraduate learning space and ready access to academic staff.
  • We provide a dedicated nursery cleanroom where students can learn the basics in a supportive cohort environment before moving on to the ICS cleanroom shared with industrial staff.
  • You will be encouraged to take part in poster presentations, conferences and other engagement activities.
  • Students have the opportunity to meet and work with world class academic members of staff, and leading professionals working in the industry.
  • You will have the opportunity to undertake a project working in one of our partner companies.
  • You will develop appropriate hands-on experimental and theoretical training related to CS device and system level design and implementation which will equip you to become a leader in your professional career in industry or academia.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time
Qualification PhD
Full-time duration PhD 4 years: (1 year MSc + 3 years)

The first year of the programme will be undertaken at Cardiff University and is based on taught modules from our two Compound Semiconductor MSc courses, the MSc Compound Semiconductor Physics (focussed on photonics), and the MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics, as well as CDT specific activities. CDT students will follow a ‘stream’ in the MSc programme, which specifies some of the optional modules.

The MSc is a 12 month, 2 stage programme over three terms which will include specialist lectures from academic staff from our partner universities. The end date of the first year is determined by the date of the final MSc exam board. Following successful completion of the first year, you will then opt to do your PhD research with one of the four partner universities depending on your project and research interests. Once you have successfully completed the MSc part of the programme you will be awarded an MSc qualification.

During your first year you will be allocated a mentor who will help identify any gaps in skills and expertise. Alongside the MSc modules, you will participate in CDT-specific activities, including a journal club and weekly tutorials, seminars from academics and industry partners, and training workshops. In the fifth month, you will be matched to a project from a selection of industry inspired challenges and you will conduct a thorough literature search and develop a project plan for the MSc and PhD project in an interactive process with supervisors. When your PhD project choice is finalised and planning is reaching an advanced stage, your supervisory group will be formally constituted with one industrial and two academic supervisors (who in almost all instances will be from different universities) to provide breadth in advice, expertise and outlook.

You will learn how to plan and propose research projects, conduct literature reviews and critiques, code in LabVIEW, design passive and active semiconductor components using industry standard software packages, fabricate semiconductor devices, characterise devices and do full on-wafer characterisation.

You will have access to the relevant facilities at Cardiff University which include a dedicated CDT office and social space, specialist laboratories, refurbished lecture theatres, and a Clean Room which is used for training.

On successful completion of the first year, students will  progress to the 3 year PhD research project and dissertation at one of the four partner universities.

When applying for a studentship and a place on the CDT please ensure that you apply using the How to Apply tab on these pages and DO NOT apply for the individual MSc courses. If you choose the CDT Compound Semiconductor Physics route you will be enrolled on the MSc Compound Semiconductor Physics for your first year, and if you choose the CDT Compound Semiconductor Electronics route you will be enrolled on the MSc Compound Semiconductor Electronics for your first year.

For more details about the two MSc programmes please visit our postgraduate taught Coursefinder pages:

What skills will I develop?

You will develop skills and expertise in:

    • the practice of CS manufacturing, including an up-to-date acquaintance with the academic literature, the major companies and market pressures in the industry, the wider context and relevant legal and safety issues;
    • effective software packages, programming languages and mathematical techniques central to tackling real-world problems in CSM.
    • critically analysing, curating and synthesising state-of-the-art academic literature and the most up-to-date techniques.
    • efficiently and effectively integrating into a research group, including concisely reporting progress, negotiating activities and timescales, supporting colleagues and working in a team;
    • planning, proposing and executing a sophisticated research project with realistic goals, deliverables and contingency plans;
    • effective communication, including conducting literature reviews, literature critiques, academic article writing, technical report writing and formal scientific oral presentations;
    • effective and efficient group and team working, including negotiation, compromise, contingency planning, time management and record-keeping;
    • engagement, liaison and collaboration with academic and industrial scientists and the ability to transfer concepts, methodologies and modes of presentation between both environments.

The cohort nature of the CDT provides the opportunity for you to become one of a connected team of people who will keep interacting throughout their careers. Unlike traditional PhDs, that tend to focus on one aspect, the CDT will provide a holistic understanding of the entire manufacturing process as well as expertise in at least one stage. Having an overview of the whole process whilst also having a detailed understanding of some of the stages, often performed in different companies, is key to developing you as a future leader of CS Manufacturing.

All four universities have an outstanding track record in compound semiconductor related research with a large, vibrant and diverse community of academics and researchers. Cardiff University, UCL, Sheffield and Manchester Universities, have a total supervisory pool of over 70 academic staff with research excellence in compound semiconductor manufacturing.

The universities cover the epitaxial growth of the major compound semiconductor materials, GaN, GaAs, InP and GaSb using the two major manufacturing methods MBE and MOCVD. Cardiff University provides manufacturing scale device and circuit fabrication with smaller scale fabrication at the other 3 sites. Together they provide expertise in characterisation of optoelectronic structures such as lasers and integrated optoelectronics and of electronic devices such as FETs and MMICs. There is also considerable design expertise in optoelectronic and electronic integrated circuits.

The new Translational Research Hub (TRH) development in Cardiff is designed to meet our vision for researchers to work alongside industry secondees using manufacturing scale fabrication equipment. This is a 1350 m2 cleanroom facility with a full 8-inch (200 mm) fabrication line for compound semiconductor alongside a research scale (small pieces to 150 mm) line with equipment with similar operating principles in both lines. Initial entry-level training will be carried out in a nursery style environment where students can learn from mistakes, without more serious consequences. This will be a truly unique teaching environment providing cleanroom-based modules in process development and device production, where students are hands on and are able to learn at their own pace.

For the PhD project training the students will access the expertise and equipment across the partner universities, which all have world-class modern laboratories with comprehensive technician and workshop support. Outstanding facilities are available for carrying out research projects based around epitaxial growth, fabrication, characterisation, component and integrated circuit design and sub-systems and systems for applications development across the compound semiconductor landscape.

Our CDT aims to provide a distinctive but broad PhD training that is industrially relevant and intellectually challenging. We aim to provide you with the necessary skills to advance your own career ambitions, with a focus on providing leadership and research skills in the compound semiconductor manufacturing industry.

You will be ideally suited to a research career, either in universities or industry, or in leadership and management in the field of compound semiconductor technology and manufacturing. This is a rapidly growing field with major investment taking place and the demand for suitably qualified physicists and engineers is already high and is likely to continue to grow.

On completion of your PhD, you should also have the skills and qualifications for a range of other research and professional positions in industry, business or academia.


A place in the CDT is fully funded for the 4 year duration and includes full university fees and a stipend for eligible students (see entry requirements).

12 to 13 studentships will be available per annum.

See our latest PhD studentships and projects and find out more about other funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Tuition fee support: Full Home tuition fees. Successful international applicants will have their fees covered by EPSRC and the host university. We will accept self-funding applicants who are subject to fees as outlined at the links below.

Maintenance stipend: Doctoral stipend matching UKRI National Minimum plus £2,000 per annum enhancement

Additional funding offered: Additional funding is available over the course of the programme and will cover costs such as research consumables, training, conferences and travel.

Students from the UK

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Applications are considered in three phases throughout the year. Deadlines for Round 1 and 2 are usually around February and April, and if we still have vacancies we run a third round in July . Please check back for application and interview dates for this year, or consult our website for the latest news.

Applications will be made via a two stage process. Make sure you complete BOTH stages:

Stage 1

Complete your application to the CDT, by submitting an online application form.

This is the form that will be used to shortlist candidates for interview, and for the interview panel to know more about you. Questions are designed to assess your experience and motivation to do a PhD in compound semiconductor manufacturing.

It also asks some personal question to gather data required by EPSRC for its annual EDI monitoring. This data will not be made available to the shortlisting or interview panels and will be destroyed after the recruitment process is complete. There is always the option to tick ‘prefer not to say’ to any of these questions.

When you submit this form it will ask if you wish to download a copy of your answers, you have only 15 minutes to do this so please answer yes to this question. You may then use this copy to submit as your ‘personal statement’ at the next stage of the process.

Stage 2

Complete your application for admission to the university. Some of the questions may be the same as the Stage 1 form–please fill them in anyway. It will ask you to upload a CV and a personal statement–use the document you downloaded at Stage 1 above. You may upload a different document if you prefer, but this will not be seen by the shortlisting or interview panel.

For this stage of the application, use the ‘apply box’ on this page. Select ‘Doctor of Philosophy’, 'Full time' and your preferred start date (October of the current academic year). The application will state that you are applying for a 4 year PhD in the School of Physics and Astronomy, because this is the ‘home’ School for the CDT Programme. Please note the guidance below before you begin the application process.

A research proposal is not required for this PhD Programme. Instead, please state that you are applying for the CDT PhD in Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing and your preferred MSc route: Physics or Electronics-depending on which fits your interests and your qualifications.

Please include with your application:

  • A copy of the application form you downloaded at stage 1 OR a personal statement telling us your reasons for wanting to study Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing as a 4-year PhD programme and why you are suitable for the CDT (approximately 500 words) and a CV detailing your education and relevant work experience.
  • two recent references, dated within the last six months, that address your capability for PhD study, at least one of which should be an academic referee. Please note: it is the applicant’s responsibility to request and upload references to their application. If your referees would prefer to send their references directly to us, please ask them to email
  • your academic certificates and transcripts.

We welcome applications from candidates with a genuine interest in compound semiconductors and an enthusiasm for the cohort approach holding or expecting to earn:

  • BSc Physics or MPhys (2:1 minimum) OR
  • BEng Electrical Engineering (2:1 minimum) OR
  • BEng Electronic Engineering (2:1 minimum).

Applicants with a lower second class degree (2:2) in these subjects may be considered if they have a good result at Masters-level study (merit or distinction) and/or other relevant qualifications or industry experience which demonstrates their scientific or engineering research capability. We will also consider applicants with related physical science degrees on an individual basis.

in order to consider your application, please complete the two stage online application process outlined on the ‘How to Apply’ tab. You must also provide two recent references, dated within the last six months, that address your capability for PhD study, at least one of which should be an academic referee.


Interviews are required, though these may be in person or on-line depending on your location.  We will pay reasonable expenses for attendance at interview. Details will be provided in your invitation.


This PhD Programme is funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), who define the eligibility for studentships.

Our studentships are available to Home and International (which now includes EU/EEA) applicants, however there is a cap on the number of studentships that can be awarded to those with international fee status, which is a maximum of 30% of the total intake.

The CDT studentship pays the UKRI Home tuition fee. For the first year, Cardiff University will provide an award to international students equivalent to the difference between home and international tuition fees, and all four University partners will provide a similar award to cover the fee difference for the second to fourth years to 30% of their intake.

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

More details about eligibility can be found on the UKRI website.

English language requirements

IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or equivalent. Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing-CDT


Apply now
See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

Related courses

Related subjects