The University of Oxford

Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

University of Oxford
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Rank: 2 (The Complete University Guide)

Location: University of Oxford


Study mode full-time

Degree: Doctorate

Start Date: 2021/10/01

Duration: 36 months

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University of Oxford has opted into the TEF and received a Gold award.

The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (November 2020). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via is a research degree leading to the award of a DPhil in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. Many training opportunities are available throughout the course, including seminar series throughout the Department of Chemistry and the annual Hinshelwood Lectures, but the focus of the course is the research project.The breadth of research interests in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory (PTCL) is a particular strength and is arguably unmatched anywhere else. Particular areas of current research include:

  • Theory and modelling of complex systems: Provides a key interface with physics, materials science and biology, with research including: quantum condensed matter theory, chemical reaction dynamics and mechanism, and the electronic and optical properties of macromolecular systems.
  • Kinetics, dynamics and mechanism: Research areas include: interfacial kinetics, reaction dynamics, photochemical and radical processes, computation of reaction pathways, atmospheric chemistry and modelling.
  • Chemistry at the interface with biology and medicine: Cutting-edge work includes research into: single molecule sensing, protein chemistry, molecular imaging.
  • Advanced functional materials and interfaces: Key areas are: molecular nanotechnology & nanolubrication (opening up new opportunities in the molecular- scale engineering of electronic, optoelectronic and photonic devices), quantum theory of strongly correlated materials, complex reaction pathways.
  • Innovative measurement and photon science: Current research areas include: electrochemistry, reaction dynamics, imaging, interface measurements, magnetic resonance, sensors and instrumentation.
The department provides a stimulating intellectual environment and well-equipped laboratories for graduate students funded under a wide range of schemes. DPhil graduates are highly valued by both academic and industrial employers and many alumni go on to distinguished research careers. The nature of each student's working week depends on their project, but students would typically carry out their research in one of the department's buildings, engaged in full-time experimental or theoretical/computational work (or a mixture of the two). During the first year, in addition to starting work on their research, students will be encouraged to follow training courses chosen from the vast number offered by the department and the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division Graduate School, and it is recommended that they attend at least three of these. A quarterly report on each student's progress is submitted by their supervisor throughout the course.


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About this university

International students

Some 140 countries have attendees at Oxford and some 60% of the total student body is from outside the UK. There are various programs available for international students to help with orientation and integrating with life in Oxford as well as to help with legal matters such as immigration and visas. They can also help with practical matters such as dealing with finances and accessing health care with the National Health Service (NHS). Student life is filled with many traditions as befits a university of Oxford's age. One of these are the balls, held by the colleges with a formal dress code as well as smaller events regularly during the year. The Oxford University Student Union or OUSU, represents students and is their voice in debate about the university as well as organising student life organisations. There are a large number of sports available outside the classroom and many of these are of a high standard. The Boat Race is a famous example of a rowing race with nearby Cambridge University that is watched by up to 10 million TV viewers each year. There are also student newspapers and a radio station as well as performing arts groups. There are also student societies open to students who aren't studying the subject to learn something new and different.

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