How to apply

Our PhD programme has a single intake in October, with up to 18 places available in October 2023.

We welcome applications from individuals holding or expecting a good degree in physics, electronic or electrical engineering or other relevant STEM subject (first or 2:1) with a genuine interest in compound semiconductors and enthusiasm for the group approach. 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 sciences degrees on an individual basis.

We are only permitted to take a maximum of 30% of our annual number as international students. The competition for these places is therefore extremely high and only the most highly qualified students are invited to interview. International students should state the UK equivalency of their qualifications by checking this degree equivalency table or checking their specific country here, or by using the website or UK ENIC, which is the UK National Information Centre for global qualifications and skills (note there is a charge for this).

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum requirements of Cardiff University, which is currently an IELTS (Academic) of 6.5 with a 5.5 in each sub-score or equivalent.  

Applications for the 2023 intake have now officially closed and our places are now full.

We will consider applications from students who wish to self-fund, as long as they meet the minimum academic and English language requirements and can provide evidence of sufficient means to pay for the course. The cost of a studentship will vary according to which university is chosen to do the PhD part of the studentship, as tuition fees vary by institution, and can be anywhere between approximately £22,000 and £35,000 per year for international students (please see relevant Universities webpages for up-to-date figures). A contribution of £20,000 over four years would also be required to match the Research Training and Support Grant of UKRI students, which covers bench fees and additional training provided by the CDT.

Applications are made via a two-part process. Make sure you complete BOTH parts:

Part 1

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

This is the form that will be used to shortlist candidates for interview, and for the interview panel to find out 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. This form cannot be edited after submission – if you make a mistake you will need to submit a new application form and contact us to delete the first one.

Part 2

Complete your application for admission to the university, available here.

This is the form to apply for a place at Cardiff University, using a system called SIMs; we need this to process your application and hopefully make you an offer if you are successful at interview. For this stage of the application, use the ‘apply box’. Select ‘Master of Science’, ‘Full time’ and your preferred start date (October 2023). Although you are applying for a four-year PhD studentship, the initial course code in SIMs is for the one-year Masters programme – but once you click ‘Apply Now’ the application will confirm that you are applying for the CDT Compound Semiconductor Physics (PhD Progression 1+3) to start in September 2023 in the School of Physics and Astronomy, because this is the ‘home’ School for the CDT Programme, even if you wish to follow the Electronics MSc route. 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.

Some of the questions may be the same as on the Part 1 form – please fill them in anyway. You will also be asked to you to upload a CV and a personal statement – to save yourself time and effort you can use the document you downloaded at Part 1 above. You may upload a different document if you prefer, but this will not be seen by the shortlisting or interview panel.

To recap, please include with your application:

  • A copy of the online application form you downloaded at Part 1 above 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 – remember these will not be used as shortlisting tools but they will stay with your university records.

If you are shortlisted for interview you will be required to provide :

  • your academic certificates and transcripts*,
  • 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 send references direct to us and upload references* to their application. If your referees would prefer to send their references directly to us, please ask them to email

*References and transcripts can be uploaded to SIMS at the time of submission of the Part 2 form or added or forwarded at a later date once you are notified of your shortlisting success.


Interviews are required. These may be in person or virtual, depending on your location and the current COVID-19 situation.  We will pay reasonable expenses for attendance at interview if they are in person. Details will be provided in your invitation.  The interview will be with a panel of academics in the CS field, and last about 30 minutes. They will ask questions about your experience, motivation for doing a PhD and technical knowledge of Compound Semiconductors. There is no presentation element to the interview.


You must 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. These should be emailed to us and uploaded to SIMs, not later than a week before the interview date in all cases. At least one positive reference is required for us to make you an offer.   


Our studentships are available to both Home and International fee paying applicants (note the ‘international’ category 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-set tuition fee at the ‘Home fees’ rate.  For successful international applicants therefore Cardiff University will provide an award equivalent of the difference between home and international tuition fees for the MSc year, and all four University partners will provide a similar award to cover the PhD fee difference for the second to fourth years of the programme. Unfortunately, we are not able to place any Cohort 5 students at UCL for their PhD, as all their places for international students have been used up.

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, or
  • Have been granted full refugee status or is the child or spouse / civil partner of a refugee (meeting residency requirements)

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.
Note that international students from some countries may need clearance under the Academic Technology Approval Scheme from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be able to study with us – at both the MSc stage (physics route MSc students) and the PhD stage (all students).

Please see full details of the programme and online application form via the Cardiff University website.    

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at

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