Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation

Start dates

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This 3-year self-funded PhD will be based in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation and will be supervised by Dr Andrew Lundgren, Dr Philip Benson and Professor David Bacon.

The work on this project will seek to determine:

  • the detection and classification thresholds whereby the AI accurately detects significant anomalies and their location in 3D
  • the timeframe and spatial extent over which events become self-organized
  • conditions leading to one event triggering a second

Laboratory simulations offer a dynamic and flexible route to testing and verifying a numerical models and observations in the physical sciences. For example: in the Earth sciences, high force hydraulic presses are routinely used to simulate earthquakes under simulated stresses, collecting acoustic emission (the laboratory analogue to tectonic seismic data) using an embedded array of sensors that collectively generate 830 Gb/Hr (0.23 Gb/s) in the form of waveforms.

Within astronomy, observatories like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO) and large cosmology surveys also generate data rates up to 1 Gb/s. In both cases a common challenge is that the vast wealth of continuous data cannot be adequately processed for events embedded in the medium by direct user intervention, due to these high data rates.

Instead, the data requires processing without knowing where events will occur or even exactly what they look like. Machine learning and AI provide exciting new methods for detecting transient events (whether earthquakes or supernovae).

To address this challenge, the controlled conditions of the rock physics laboratory will be used to compress a medium to failure, generating a stream of data containing events analogous to supernovae embedded in a transmissive medium. Data will be analyzed using a new range of AI algorithms, but with the advantage of allowing post-test comparisons to the final “sample” and with respect to a range of conditions or materials.

Success on this project will lead to new tools across a range of physical sciences, ranging from the science of Earthquake localization, to fundamental questions relating to the evolution of the universe via LIGO and other new, expensive, observatories.

Fees and funding

Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 fees (applicable for October 2020 and February 2021 start)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a*

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a*

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a* 

*All fees are subject to annual increase

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

  • You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Medical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a similar discipline
  • In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr. Andrew Lundgren ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Mathematics and Physics, Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.

Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

Please note: to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code MPHY4630219 UK/EU students and MPHY4830219 International students when applying.

October start

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February start

Apply now

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