What are aerosols?

An aerosol is a collection of solid particles or liquid droplets dispersed in air. Examples include smoke, fog, sea spray and pollution particles from vehicles. Particle sizes can range from the nanometre (a millionth of a millimetre) to the millimetre scale. Aerosols influence health, visibility, and global climate and find technological application in the delivery of drugs to the lungs, the engineering of nanostructures through spray drying, and the delivery of fuels for combustion.

As well as addressing some of the challenges faced in understanding the properties of aerosols, we use aerosols to study some broader ranging fundamental topics in physical chemistry/chemical physics.

Studying for a PhD with the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science
Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs below are designed to provide you with the answers you need to some commonly-asked questions, but please do not hesitate to contact the CDT administrator at aerosol-science@bristol.ac.uk  if you wish to ask anything further.

Applying for a Studentship

What’s the process for applying and when do I need to apply?

Apply online via our online application form by the advertised deadline

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications and invite eligible candidates with a suitable academic background to an online recruitment and assessment day where you will meet members of the CDT, learn a little more about aerosols and have opportunities to ask questions. You will also take part in a team-based activity to enable you to try out the innovative team-based learning methods used in training. The dates of the recruitment days are indicated on the website.


When do I need to specify a PhD project and supervisor? When I apply?

When you submit your application we give you the option to list your preference for specific PhD projects with specific supervisors at a particular institution. This is entirely your choice and you are also welcome to simply list any areas of aerosol science that you have an interest in or a specific institution at which you would prefer to undertake your PhD.  If you wish to talk to supervisors about particular projects before placing your application, you may contact them using their details at the end of the project description.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend a recruitment and assessment day, where you will have an opportunity to talk with the potential PhD supervisors you have selected or we will suggest supervisors who match your interests.


 Should I include supporting documents (e.g. CV, references transcripts) ?

We do not request supporting documents, references or CV at this stage, but will do later, when we would like to make a candidate an offer. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to an online recruitment day. Successful candidates from this day will then be ‘matched’ with their preferred supervisors for further discussions. After these discussions, when a supervisor would like to make a PhD offer to a candidate, the candidate then applies via the formal online application system of the supervisor’s institution (e.g. via the official Leeds system if the PhD is based at Leeds) and at this stage they attach their documents, references etc, and receive an official offer from that University.


What areas of aerosol science could my PhD be part of?

The areas of aerosol science that the CDT works in and that you can specify on your application include:
• Basic aerosol processes (e.g. microphysics of aerosol processes, fundamental science, aerosol
• Aerosols and health (e.g. disease transmission, drug delivery to the lungs)
• Aerosol technology (e.g. novel materials and particle synthesis using aerosols, combustion
• Aerosol measurement techniques (e.g. optical techniques, novel measurement methods)
• Atmospheric and environmental aerosols (e.g. air quality, climate change)


What degree do I need to apply?

The breadth of aerosol science means we are looking for applicants from a broad range of backgrounds. You just should aspire to work in a multidisciplinary field and have an undergraduate background in any of the following areas: chemistry, physics, biological sciences, life and medical sciences, mathematics and computer science, chemical and mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and environmental sciences.

Depending on the subject area, applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of an upper second-class MSci or BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in an area of physical science, engineering or biological science.

For international equivalent qualifications please see: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/international/countries/


When will I know if my application is successful?

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications in January. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend a recruitment and assessment day. Following the recruitment and assessment day, we will write to you to let you know if we are recommending you progress to the next stage. There will then be an opportunity for you to meet and discuss specific PhD projects with your preferred supervisors. If you like the project and the supervisor considers you are a good fit for their project, you then formally apply via the application system of the home institution of the supervisor, so that a formal offer can be made.


Why does the CDT ask applicants to complete a demographic survey?

We recognise the benefits of recruiting a diverse group of students to the Aerosol Science  CDT and strive to avoid any conscious or unconscious bias in our recruitment.  The monitoring of applications by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) committee allows us to assess the effectiveness and fairness of all stages of our recruitment procedures. The information you provide  will be kept independently of your expression of interest and will not be made available to those involved in decisions about applications. Find out more about our commitment to diversity monitoring and protecting your data.

I am an EU or international applicant, what else should I consider?

In October 2020 our funder (UKRI EPSRC) released guidance that the CDT may offer up to 30% of places to international candidates. However, for us to do this requires the institution of the 7 partner institutions hosting the PhD reaching an agreement regarding the difference between home fees and international fees.  Because this announcement is very recent, Bristol & our partner universities have not yet provided us with guidance about the process by which this will be managed. We will provide an update when available. In the meantime, we advise applicants to check they meet the admissions criteria and apply by the deadline.

Overseas applicants can view English language requirements and international equivalent qualifications by following the links on the University of Bristol prospectus entry: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/2021/doctoral/phd-aerosol-science/

English Language Profile F: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/language-requirements/ 

We ask that you hold your English language qualification at the appropriate level by the 1st of March.

International equivalent qualifications: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/international/countries/



The First Year of Your PhD

What funding will I receive?

Studentships include tuition fees, Research and Training Support Grant (RTSG) and a stipend to cover your living costs while you complete your PhD. You will receive funding for four years at the level of the typical UKRI stipend. See indicative levels at: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training/

Where do I live in the first year?

All of the training in the first two teaching blocks (end of September to end of April) will be hosted at the CDT hub at the University of Bristol. During this time, you will have the opportunity if you wish to live in postgraduate accommodation at the University of Bristol paying only for the period you are in residence (not the full academic year). After this (late April or early May), you will likely move to your home institution, finding accommodation for the rest of your PhD study.


What if my Thematic Broadening Sabbatical is not in my home institution or at University of Bristol?

In some instances, you may be undertaking a Thematic Broadening Sabbatical (TBS) during May-July of the first year at an institution that is not your home institution. In many instances, this may be in a neighbouring institution allowing you to commute (The CDT will pay your travel costs). In some instances, you may be undertaking this short project in Bristol or Bath, in which case you can remain in your accommodation in Bristol. For a small number of projects, you may be undertaking your TBS in a third institution far removed from Bristol or your home institution (e.g. if your home institution is Manchester and your TBS is in Cambridge). In these instances, we will help you find short-term accommodation near the institution hosting your TBS.


What training do I complete in the first year?

Aerosol science is unlikely to be something you have any training in from your undergraduate study. You will bring your particular specialist knowledge (for example from your undergraduate degree) to your study and train in a multidisciplinary team, benefiting from the breadth of expertise across the team. You will receive training in aerosol fundamentals (1/3 of first-year training), giving you all of the background you need for your PhD and to be an agile researcher in the future. You will also receive training in professionalism and translation skills (about 1/6, e.g. in responsible innovation, regulation and policy, public engagement) and research methods (about 1/6, e.g. advanced computational and data analysis tools for aerosols). The Thematic Broadening Sabbatical makes up the final component of the third year.


When do I start my PhD research?

The Thematic Broadening Sabbatical will represent the first steps in your PhD journey, giving you an opportunity to learn techniques and get some publishable results in an area of aerosol science complementing your main PhD project. After formally progressing to the PhD in about month 11 of your first year, you will be working fully on your PhD project.


Years 2 to 4 and the longer-term

What are the other benefits of doing a PhD with the CDT in Aerosol Science?

You will continue to participate in the CDT’s network throughout your PhD. Throughout your PhD, you will have a weekly opportunity to listen to a webinar (a research seminar broadcast online) presented by leading researchers from around the world. You will also continue to work with your peers, supporting each other’s progress through co-operative learning groups and contributing to a journal club. You will attend the annual CDT conference and summer schools each year in specialist areas of aerosol science.


What mentoring will I receive?

You will receive mentoring from your PhD project supervisor, the academic co-supervisor who will host your Thematic Broadening Sabbatical, and an industrial partner, giving you a perspective on aerosol science outside academia. During Year 2 or 3, you will have the opportunity to go on placement to
work with the industrial partner.


Will I get an opportunity to meet with industry and potential employers?

Yes! The CDT is working with around 50 partners ranging from large multinational companies to small spin outs, and public sector bodies to national research labs. You will have an opportunity to meet these partners at CDT events and through your placement, and will hear about career opportunities and vacancies.


Will I be able to meet and network with researchers outside the CDT?

Yes! You will participate in a broad range of activities organised by the Aerosol Society of the UK and Ireland each year, including their annual conference and focus meetings on specific topics. See: https://aerosol-soc.com/

You will also have the opportunity to attend international conferences and training events

EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

University of Bristol
School of Chemistry
Cantock’s Close
Bristol, BS8 1TS