Characterisation of Toxic Element-bearing Sulfate Minerals by Coupled Raman Spectroscopy-Neutron and Synchrotron Diffraction, MPhil/PhD (Funded) Ref: 3213

About the award


Main supervisor: Professor Karen Hudson-Edwards, Environment & Sustainability Institute and Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter.

Co-supervisor: Dr Dominic Fortes, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Didcot.

Co-supervisor: Professor Chiu Tang, Diamond Light Source, Didcot.


Environment & Sustainability Institute and Camborne School of Mines, Penryn, Cornwall. At least one year of the PhD will be spent at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in Didcot.

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC’s) ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and Diamond Light Source, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the Environment & Sustainability Institute and the Camborne School of Mines in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at Penryn Campus in Cornwall. At least one year of the PhD will be spent at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in Didcot.

The aim of the PhD project is to characterise toxic element-bearing sulfates found in mine wastes. A significant part of this project is for the student to develop coupled Raman spectroscopy-neutron diffraction capability at ISIS to provide a clearer insight into the structure and dynamics of crystalline materials, and to characterise the sulfates (together with synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction at Diamond; SPXD). A large proportion of natural and technological materials are crystalline and the ways in which they respond to changes in external conditions such as pressure and temperature, or changes in crystal structure, are crucial to understanding problems from the internal structure of the Earth to the design of modern electronics. The diffraction of neutron beams provides information on the large-scale structure of substances; the scattering of visible light provides small-scale information. Doing the two measurements at the same time will give a unique picture of the mechanisms responsible for physical properties of materials. Key project outcomes will include a world-class, unique coupled Raman spectroscopic and neutron diffraction capability at ISIS, linked with SPXD analysis at Diamond, PhD student training and a library of sulfate characterisation data and publications that can be used by the mining industry to identify toxic element-bearing sulfates.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in January 2019. The collaboration with the named project partner is subject to contract.  Please note full details of the project partner’s contribution and involvement with the project is still to be confirmed and may change during the course of contract negotiations.  Full details will be confirmed at offer stage.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.  Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”. 

• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 31st October 2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Penryn Campus the week commencing 5th November 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:31st October 2018
Value:£14,777 per year for 4 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Support Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150