Rolls Royce UTCin Combustion System Aerothermal Processes

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training

In Future Propulsion and Power

Fully-Funded PhD Studentships with Rolls-Royce

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Propulsion and Power is an exciting partnership that brings together three internationally recognised universities, Loughborough, Cambridge and Oxford and global industry partners to create a unique consortium for turbomachinery training and research.  The new Centre builds on the success of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics. It will provide training in the key skills that future engineers in the field of Propulsion and Power will need to become leaders in research and design.  The two new themes are:

1- Data, Learning and Design

The Centre will provide training to enable engineers to derive learning from the ever-increasing supply of data (from experimental tests, from computations and from real engines in the field) and hence develop improved concepts and technologies.

2 - Systems Integration

As well as delivering training in advanced aero-thermal science, the Centre will expose students to the requirements of Future Propulsion and Power systems, such as: integrated propulsor-airframe concepts; hybrid-electric propulsion; compact and flexible operation power generation.

The CDT in Future Propulsion and Power is a four year programme which comprises of year one study at the University of Cambridge for an MRes in Future Propulsion and Power. The MRes provides a platform to the PhD phase in years 2 to 4, where students undertake an industrially-focused PhD project.

The three-year industrially-focussed PhD project at Loughborough University will be based within the Rolls-Royce Technology Centre (UTC).  In 2017, construction work began on the new National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT), a multi-million pound development funded through a partnership comprising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, with support from Rolls-Royce and Loughborough University. Opened in 2020, NCCAT now acts as the UK’s primary hub for research focusing on the development of future low emission aerospace combustion systems that will reduce the environmental impact of aircraft, with opportunities for wider exploitation beyond aerospace (e.g. energy).

PhD projects will be developed during the first year which will be relevant to current and future technologies being developed by Rolls-Royce. Loughborough has a specific track record of research excellence in gas turbine aerothermal processes, one of the three major components of turbomachinery (compressor, combustor and turbine). CDT students will hugely benefit from the network of experts and the portfolio of skills that they have built up at the heart of the CDT.

Several four-year studentships are available with UKRI funding covering tuition fees for UK students only (UKRI rate) and an annual tax-exempt stipend of £19,767 (2022/23 rate) including top-up, plus a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) that can be used for other training costs, such as attending a conference, for the duration of the 4 year programme. 

The UKRI have confirmed international students (all non-UK) will also be eligible for all Research Council-funded postgraduate studentships from the start of the 2021/22 academic year.  However, UKRI funding will not cover international tuition fees and therefore the fee difference must be met through self-funding or another funding source.  Please refer to CDT Turbo for further information on student eligibility and funding.


The CDT in Future Propulsion and Power follows a "1+3" model. In year one, students study for a new University of Cambridge master’s degree in Future Propulsion and Power. In years 2 to 4, students undertake an industrially-focussed PhD project at Loughborough University.

Year 1 MRes

The MRes in Future Propulsion and Power is a University of Cambridge degree.


Part 1 - Modules

During Part 1 of the MRes (October-December) students undertake a combination of core and elective modules.  The modules give students a world-leading background in the theory of gas turbine aerodynamics as well as practical aspects of both experimental and computational research. 

  • Foundation concepts (Introductory course)
  • Advanced turbomachinery aerodynamics (Flagship MRes course in advanced aerodynamic concepts)
  • Turbomachinery aerodynamic design process (Fundamentals, and hands-on experience, of computational methods for blade design)
  • Experimental methods (Practical course in experimental fluid dynamics)
  • Researcher skills (Non-technical skills needed for successful research)
  • Elective modules
Part 2 - Mini-projects

In Part 2 (January-April), students experience working in the research laboratories of each of the three participating universities and also in industry. The mini-projects at Cambridge, Loughborough and Oxford will focus on compressor, combustor and turbine aerodynamics respectively; the industry courses will look at the challenges of integrating these, and other, components together into a successful machine.

Part 3 - Research proposal dissertation

For the final part of the MRes (May-September), students work with an individual supervisor, and a broader team of experts drawn from the CDT partners, to develop a detailed proposal for the PhD phase.

Year 2-4 PhD Phase

The MRes provides a springboard to the PhD phase of the CDT. Students register for a PhD at Loughborough University, one of the partner universities. Loughborough University provides an internationally recognised environment for gas turbine machinery research, but CDT students also benefit from the network of experts, and the portfolio of skills, that they have built up during the MRes phase. In addition, the full cohort is regularly reunited for CDT seminars and workshop events.


Entry into this exciting programme is competitive and will take account of qualifications, aspirations and experience. Successful applicants are likely to have an engineering background with some specialisation in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics; students from related fields will also be considered. Students are normally expected to have a good 2.1 or 1st class honours degree from a UK University or an equivalent standard from an overseas university. 

The majority of successful applicants must be eligible for EPSRC funding but a number of places are also available to those who fall outside this category.  The UKRI has confirmed international students (non-UK) will be eligible for all Research Council-funded postgraduate studentships from the start of the 2021/22 academic year.

Therefore we may be able to offer a limited number of studentships to international students, which will cover fees at the UK rate, and a stipend to support living costs. UKRI funding will not cover international fees, but the fee difference can be met through other sources, i.e. self funding.

Overseas fees candidates (non-UK) should select all funding options on the application form so that they have every opportunity to receive a fully funded studentship.

To find out if you need to take a language test as part of your application, please see the Graduate Admissions site here.

Students must partake in the MRes year even if they have a Master’s qualification already.  The MRes is specially designed for the Future Propulsion and Power CDT and is an integral part of the 4-year course.

How to apply

Applications for October 2023 entry is now open.  Places are very limited and will be allocated throughout the year, early application is advised.

Applications for the EPSRC CDT MRes + PhD in Future Propulsion and Power programme should be made via the Cambridge standard graduate admissions website.  Applicants are advised to contact Dr Walker before submitting a formal application.

The MRes in Future Propulsion and Power is only available as part of the CDT in Future Propulsion and Power. On successful completion of the MRes, students will begin the PhD phase of the CDT.

In the Course Specific Questions section of the application form under Core - PhD institution preference, please enter Loughborough University as the 1st University at which you would like to study for the PhD phase of the CDT.

General enquiries about the CDT programme at Loughborough University should be made to the CDT Administrator, Sharon Hayward-Fryer.