PhD Studentship in Analysis of High-Energy Physics Data

Funded Physics research

One funded, full-time traditional-route PhD studentship in Physics is available as part of the University of Derby’s wider investment for the next Research Assessment Framework (REF). Building upon its successes in REF 2014, the Department of Electronics, Mathematics and Computing aims to deliver a 3* performance equivalent to internationally excellent level in the next round of REF assessment (expected in 2021). The studentship covers tuition fee to the UK home/EU level and provide a tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 pa for 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. The start date is September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Derby, UK
Funding amount: £14,777 stipend pa + UK home tuition fees
Hours: Full Time
Placed on: 17 July 2018
Closes: 20 August 2018
Interview: 6 and 7 September 2018
Start date: September 2018

The project

The project will be on the analysis of data from the ALICE experiment at CERN. The candidate would work on the data analysis with a view to applying modern machine learning techniques or making algorithmic improvements to the reconstruction of the data. The ALICE experiment collects multi-petabyte datasets from collisions of lead ions, in order to measure the properties of the quark-gluon plasma, the hottest form of matter ever created in the laboratory. Over the next two years the experiment will be upgraded in order to increase data-taking capabilities by two orders of magnitude, requiring new approaches to the data analysis. You would work within a multi-disciplinary team in the Department of Electronics, Computing and Mathematics at the University of Derby with expertise in both the physics and computing aspects of this challenge.

The research topic can be in any of the areas of; the application of machine learning techniques to the detection of rare decays of heavy-flavour hadrons, or exotic hadronic cluster (nuclei-like) states; the improvement in the detection algorithms for tracking short-lived hyperons in the upgraded inner tracker silicon detector; the identification of jet modification with deep-learning methods. Prior knowledge in these areas is not needed, only an aptitude for and willingness to learn.

Teaching responsibilities

Prospective candidates will also have a post graduate teaching assistant (PGTA) status within the College. On average over a calendar year a PGTA should be prepared to spend a maximum of 250 hours on teaching-related duties. These duties include teaching contact, preparation and any assessment. In practice during semesters, which extend for about 24 teaching weeks per year, the PGTA may expect on average to be engaged in teaching-related duties for about 10 hours per week. This teaching-related work will not exceed 20 hours in any single week. In addition to days in which no engagement is expected, there should be at least a further 16 weeks each calendar year when the PGTA has no teaching duties. There is no additional remuneration in respect of these teaching duties. In addition to their teaching duties which automatically contribute towards their teaching development, the successful candidates are also expected to commit a minimum of further 17 hours per week over 45 weeks each year to their programme of personal research.

Entry Requirements

Previous research experience is required, either at Masters level or as strong component of independent project work at Bachelor's level. Prior experience with data from similar large experiments would be an advantage but is not essential. We welcome applications both from candidates with a first degree in a physics-related subject, with a strong interest in computing and from candidates with a first degree in a computing-related subject with an interest in working in the physical sciences.

How to apply

In order to apply, please visit the University of Derby's research degree applicants page. In addition to the documents requested on the website, please also include with your application a Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter. Completed applications should be submitted by email to, quoting reference E&T_Physics_PGTA_0618 in the subject line.

For further information and informal discussions on possible research topics, please contact Dr Lee Barnby ( Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted. If you have not been invited for interview by the interview date, please assume that on this occasion your application has not been successful.

Studentships are available to UK/EU and International applicants. If your application is successful and you are assessed as Overseas for fees purposes, you will need to pay the difference between the Home/EU fees and the Overseas fees.

If you have not heard from us by the interview date then you should assume that on this occasion your application has not been successful.