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Physical and Theoretical Chemistry DPhil

University of Oxford

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Course options

  • Qualification

    PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

  • Location

    University of Oxford

  • Study mode

    Full time

  • Start date


  • Duration

    3 years

Course summary

About the course

This 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.


Students are admitted as Probationary Research Students. At the end of the first year, they undergo a Transfer of Status assessment, which is to ensure that they have the potential to gain a doctorate. This assessment is made on the basis of a report and oral examination.

Research proceeds with quarterly reporting throughout the next two years, and there is the opportunity to follow further courses during this period. By the end of the third year, students must pass the Confirmation of Status assessment to ensure that they are on track to complete the thesis within a reasonable time.

The degree is examined by thesis and oral examination by two examiners, one of whom is normally from Oxford and one from elsewhere.

Graduate destinations

Most alumni from the DPhil in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry remain in chemistry, some in the educational sector, and some go into industry, particularly including the computer industry. There is a wide variety of other destinations, including scientific writers, patent attorneys, government and the civil service, and a few go into financial services.

The department runs an annual careers conference for graduate students and the careers service offers a wide variety of support, including CV workshops. The department also hosts a large number of visits from prospective employers, where students can find out more information. There is an alumni officer, who keeps in touch with graduates, and the department runs a number of social and scientific events for them.

Tuition fees

Students living in United States
(international fees)

£ 27,460per year

Tuition fees shown are for indicative purposes and may vary. Please check with the institution for most up to date details.

University information

University of Oxford

  • University League Table


  • Campus address

    University of Oxford, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2JD, England

Subject rankings

  • Subject ranking

    1st out of 59

  • Entry standards

    / Max 240
    210 92%


  • Graduate prospects

    / Max 100
    90 90%


  • Student satisfaction

    / Max 5

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