Unfortunately, we are unable to take any students at present.
previous years, there have opportunities for graduates to study for a
research degree (PhD/D.Phil) in particle physics at the Rutherford
Appleton Laboratory (RAL). Financial support is normally through an STFC
Postgraduate Studentship award, available to UK residents and EU
nationals or Nationals of EEA member states. The general terms and
conditions for STFC Postgraduate Studentships apply. Students will be
based in the Particle Physics Department (PPD) at RAL, supervised by PPD
staff and registered for a full-time PhD/D.Phil degree at the
collaborating University. During the first year they will be required to attend appropriate lectures at RAL and at the collaborating University.
For entry October 2011 we had 4 joint studentship available as follows:
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) facilities and expertise support
the work of more than 10,000 scientists and engineers from around the
world, both in universities and in industry.
The RAL lies about
15 miles south of Oxford, at Chilton in Oxfordshire. The Laboratory was
founded in 1957 and has since become one of Europe's largest
multidisciplinary research laboratories. The research programme includes
astronomy, biology, chemistry, computing, work on new energy sources,
engineering, environmental research, materials science, particle
physics, astro-physics, radio communications and space science.
Facilities include ISIS, the world's most powerful pulsed spallation
neutron source, world-leading high power lasers, high performance
computing and a micro-technology centre. Rutherford Research Services is
the commercial arm of the Laboratory. It makes the Laboratory's
facilities available to customers on a repayment basis and also enables
Particle Physics Department at RAL
Particle Physics Department (PPD) is one of the largest such
departments in the UK and has an active research program. Physicists and
support staff from RAL, together with collaborators from university
groups, work on a variety of experiments abroad and in the UK. It is
also responsible for co-ordinating the UK experimental programme and for
providing support to groups at UK universities. The department has
excellent computing and library facilities. It also arranges frequent
lectures and seminars in particle physics which all staff and students
are encouraged to attend.
At present the department has
approximately 60 staff (40 holding PhDs) including research physicists,
physicist programmers, technical and computing support staff as well as
administrators and secretaries. Several of the research physicists hold
joint appointments at UK universities. See the PPD Home Page for further details about the department.
Projects and activities within the department
of our current understanding of elementary particle physics is embodied
in the so-called 'Standard Model', which describes the phenomena of
particle physics in terms of `matter' and `force' particles. The matter
particles are the quarks and leptons which come in three 'generations'
with very different masses. The force particles include the 'gauge
bosons' which mediate the three forces that determine elementary
particle interactions; 'gluons' for the strong force, the 'W and Z
bosons' for the weak force and 'photons' for the electromagnetic force.
this standard model describes much of particle physics, it is far from
complete relying on a relatively large number of input parameters. It
also raises a great number of questions. Why are there just three
generations of quarks and leptons? What is the mechanism by which mass
is generated and is it connected with the hitherto undetected particle -
the 'Higgs Boson'. Our experiments now show that neutrinos have masses -
so how are neutrino masses related to the quark and lepton masses?
aim of the experiments carried out in the particle physics department,
in collaboration with colleagues from UK universities, is to answer some
of these and related questions. The experiments are located at
different research institutes around the world:
- CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics (located in Geneva, Switzerland)
- Fermilab Fermi National Accelerator laboratory (located near Chicago)
- SLAC Stanford National Accelerator Laboratory (located near San Francisco, California)
- ILL Institut Laue Langevin (located in Grenoble, France)
addition experiments are carried out underground at the SOUDAN mine in
Minnesota, USA and at the Boulby mine in Yorkshire, UK. Some further
information about the facilities and the individual experiments is given
below, together with references to relevant papers and web addresses.
Research students will work in one of these groups, under the
supervision of a senior research physicist. The project will be chosen
in discussion with the student and the supervisors. More detailed
information is given later in the section "Details of Studentships".
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be the next accelerator to be built at
CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. It will be the world's largest scientific
instrument. It will collide protons head-on on protons, each proton in
each bunch in each of the two colliding beams having an energy of 7000
GeV, an order of magnitude increase with respect to presently available
energies. At such energies it is expected that information on the Higgs
boson, which is thought to be the mechanism which gives rise to the
masses of the elementary particles, will be found. Also it is probable
in this unexplored energy regime that other new phenomena, such as
supersymmetry, might be discovered. Construction of the LHC began at the
end of 1996 and operation began November 2009. RAL is involved with the
two general purpose detectors (ATLAS and CMS) as well as with LHCb.
The PEP-II facility provides collisions between 9 GeV electrons and 3.1 GeV positrons, specifically for the BaBar experiment to study the violation of the CP symmetry in the decay of B mesons.
Future linear collider
There is a Linear Collider Physics Group
studying the physics potential and technical/detector challenges
relating to a possible future very high energy linear e+e- colder .
Neutrino Factory for future precision neutrino oscillation experiments.
Underground and non-accelerator experiments
The MINOS experiment is performing a precision study of neutrino oscillations using a new, intense beam of neutrinos generated at Fermilab (near Chicago) and projected through the earth to a 5.4kton detector in the Soudan mine, Minnesota. The Dark Matter experiments are conducted deep underground in the Boulby mine, UK to reduce backgrounds due to cosmic rays. The Neutron EDM
experiment is making high sensitivity measurements on neutrons from the
reactor at ILL, Grenoble, France. All these experiments are looking for
physics outside the standard model.
students in Particle Physics are registered as full time postgraduate
students at the collaborating University. They are based in the Particle
Physics Department at RAL but may also be required to visit other UK
and/or overseas laboratories, e.g. CERN, Geneva; DESY, Hamburg etc.
Applicants will normally be expected to have a UK first degree in
physics or other appropriate subject, with first or upper second class
honours, or to have an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard
from a university or educational institution of university rank, or to
have a recognised Master's degree. In most cases students will be
required to register initially for an MPhil/MSc degree, with the
expectation of transfer to the PhD/D.Phil programme after the successful
completion of one year and with the approval of the Physics Department
at the collaborating University and the Particle Physics Department at
A candidate whose qualifications, although otherwise
acceptable, are inadequate in a particular field may be required to pass
specified qualifying examinations in that field during the period of
their MPhil/MSc registration and before presenting themselves for the
degree. If qualifying requirements are specified for PhD/D.Phil
registration, they must normally be satisfied before the period of
registration can begin.
All students whose first language is
not English must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken
and written command of the English language is adequate. This
requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress
of students is not hindered by language difficulties and that students
are able to benefit from their time at RAL. The required evidence may
take the form of a minimum of 18 months' education or work experience
conducted in English and undertaken no more than three years prior to
the proposed date of enrolment. Alternatively, applicants must provide a
recently obtained acceptable English language qualification or test
result. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more
than three years prior to the proposed date of enrolment. A variety of
qualifications are accepted. Applicants should send this evidence, or
arrange for it to be sent, at the same time as their formal application
is made. RAL reserves the right to require any student to withdraw from
the degree programme if, in the opinion of the supervisor, the student's
proficiency in English is inadequate.
Financial support is
available for UK residents, EU nationals or Nationals of EEA member
states subject to the general terms and conditions which apply to STFC
Standard Research Studentships as given in the booklet "postgraduate studentships rules and regulation".
Fees for the three year period are paid directly to the collaborating
University. In addition a maintenance allowance is paid over three years
at the "outside London" rate.
Students not covered by the
above may still be accepted to study for a PhD/D.Phil, under appropriate
circumstances, provided they meet all the relevant entry criteria. All
students will be entitled to the normal rights, privileges and use of
facilities at the collaborating University, particularly those of the
graduate school, and will be subject to the same responsibilities, rules
and regulations as other registered graduate students. Whilst not an
"employee" of STFC, when working at RAL, students will be required to
comply with a number of policies/procedures including those relating to
health and safety, no-smoking, code of conduct for staff etc as well as
conforming with normal staff requirements for medical and security
clearance. They will have the same access to Welfare, Occupational
Health and Nursery facilities as STFC employees.
supervisor for RAL students will be a RAL Research Physicist (or
appropriate RAL staff scientist). There will normally be a second
supervisor from among the appropriate staff at the collaborating
University. RAL students will normally be expected to see their
University supervisors at least once per term. RAL students will be
required to attend formal lecture courses as specified by RAL and the
For entry October 2010 we filled 4 joint studentships as follows: ATLAS b-physics (with Lancaster U.), CMS Long-lived particles (with Imperial College, London), and T2K measurement of theta23 (with Oxford U.), LHCb (with Oxford U.) .
2009 we had 3 STFC-funded RAL studentships, one on ATLAS in
collaboration with Oxford University, one on CMS with Bristol
University, and one on LHCb with one of Warwick University. We also had a
share in 2 SEPNet-funded theory/experiment studentships, one on Dark Matter search in ATLAS (project 2) in collaboration with Royal Holloway (RHUL), and one on EW Symmetry Breaking in CMS with Southampton University.
- Questions concerning the RAL studentships should be addressed to Monika Wielers, tel: +44 1235 445966.
information about the Particle Physics Department and its experimental
programme can be obtained from the Director, Particle Physics, Prof David Wark, tel: +44 (0)1235 445094.
A list of PhD places in Particle Physics in the UK may be found on the Oxford University website.