Student Experience

Students are registered at both Sheffield and Manchester for the first year with access to the facilities of both universities and a dedicated Metallics CDT office.

Taught courses take place at both sites and the CDT covers the cost of train tickets between Sheffield and Manchester and provides a laptop or PC.

Once the PhD research project starts the student is registered at the university of their supervisor with visiting status at the other university. Professional skills courses and social activities bring the cohort back together on a regular basis and provide opportunities to interact with other CDTs. In addition to joint courses with CDTs in Sheffield and Manchester, students undertake residential courses with the Theory and Simulation of Materials CDT at Imperial College and the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials at the University of Bristol.

Hear about what life is like as a research student in the Zirconium group at Manchester from Matt, Flic and Allan in the short video below:


Charlotte Boig from the 2014 cohort talks about her experience as an EngD student

As an EngD student I am much more closely connected with my sponsoring company than most of my PhD student friends are with theirs. I spend at least one day a week at the company, continuing to work on my research project. I find that working in different environments is refreshing and aids productivity. Since the project aims to provide information on a real and current area of interest to the company, my work is driven by their objectives. I enjoy this aspect of the work because it provides a sense of direction and moves the project along as I work towards specific goals. Having support from my industrial supervisor as well as my academic supervisor is extremely valuable as it provides an alternative viewpoint and an insight into industrial operations.

Being part of the CDT is also a great source of support. As a cohort we have remained good friends since the initial period of taught courses and it is great to have a network of peers who are all facing similar challenges. I have made the most of many opportunities which have arisen during my project, including conferences and training courses abroad and collaborations with other universities. The EngD is an excellent way to continue working on an academic project whilst gaining experience of working in industry and provides the perfect platform for embarking on a career in either sector.

Charlotte and her public engagement project


David Bowden from the 2012 cohort talks about why he chose the CDT programme

I graduated in 2009 from the University of Hertfordshire with a Masters degree in Aerospace engineering. From here I went into industry, joining the BAE Systems Submarines graduate scheme based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. I spent three years with BAE and ended the graduate scheme with a role in the nuclear safety project management department. I have always had an interest in materials science from back in my undergraduate degree and working on nuclear material projects at BAE really re-ignited my interest in the area. Having realised how much exciting research was going on and wanting to get back into scientific and engineering based research, I discovered the Advanced Metallic Systems CDT advertising for PhD students. Needless to say, I promptly applied!

The CDT was a great option for me since the projects offered were diverse and catered to a wide range of interests. Also the first year taught element was a definite bonus for me to get my head back into the academic world as well as brush up on my materials science knowledge. One aspect of the CDT I really value is the people in it. It's a great community with a group of you all starting together, from different academic backgrounds and you instantly have a network of people to not only work alongside but also to head down the pub with on a Friday night!

My project is titled 'Cobalt-free Hard-facing materials for nuclear applications' and is sponsored by Rolls-Royce. I'm characterising two stainless steel alloys designed to be wear resistant and less hazardous to operate in a nuclear environment by removing Cobalt (which produces gamma rays when irradiated). These alloys are produced in a powder form and then pressed into pump and valve components. The work so far on the project has been extremely interesting and exciting. The CDT is an excellent opportunity for those who wish to carry out PhD level research, as well as gain invaluable skills and training in preparation for life beyond the PhD.

Matt Topping from the 2012 cohort talks about why he chose the CDT programme

I joined the CDT programme three months after graduating with a 2:1 masters degree in Chemistry form the University of Manchester. In the final year of my undergraduate degree I was looking at various PhD projects that were available and came across the Advanced metallics CDT. I knew that I no longer wanted to stay in Chemistry and I was looking for a way to side step into engineering. I did not have too much knowledge of materials science but after reading about the subject it seemed to be an interesting blend of chemistry, physics and engineering. This sounded perfect for me so I applied and luckily made it onto the course. 

The 1st year was a great way to be introduced to the subject. It is a well structured taught course that built our knowledge up at a steady pace in a way that was throughly enjoyable and being part of a cohort that had graduates from a number of disciplines meant that we all pitched in and helped each other through. 

I have chosen a project that has heavy ties with large companies in the nuclear sector and I am extremely happy with how the PhD is turning out. Most of the PhD projects come with  industrial sponsors and this gives the CDT an edge over other PhDs in my opinion. 

I could not recommend this course more to graduates looking to build a career as a research scientist.

During the CDT I've gained the skills that will allow me to do research in multiple fields, not just what I've focussed on in my PhD.