Frequently asked questions - Academic Staff

2nd PrizeHow does an Engineering Doctorate differ from a PhD

The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) is the flagship research qualification of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Council (EPSRC). It is a 4-year PhD-level doctorate degree, with an emphasis on research and development in a commercial environment.

This is achieved using a combination of industrial research (75%) and taught coursework (25%). Research is focused on the needs of a company sponsor and may consist of either a single large project, as is typical for a PhD or, to match the needs of industry, may be a portfolio of smaller projects.

Students, known as Research Engineers, work closely with their sponsoring company, normally carrying out the majority of their research work whilst based at the company. They work under the direction of both an industrial supervisor and an academic supervisor from one of the partner universities.

The coursework is studied by flexible learning throughout the first three years of the programme, either by distance learning or a mixture of distance learning and on-campus provision.

We provide enhanced funding to suitably qualified students of fees plus a stipend of at least £20,557 per annum (equivalent to about £26,000 as a taxable salary) for Research Engineers starting in September 2016/17.

What are the main opportunities and benefits to the academic?

These include: Offers a route to develop collaborative research with a company or government research lab that is highly attractive to companies Enhances potential for access to industrial facilities Exploitation route for academics’ intellectual property Academic receives ‘no-strings’ annual income to support research Bureaucratic hurdles for establishing a project are minimal EngD students are counted as equivalent to PhD students in all metrics of activity: this has benefit for both the individual and the university Preferably EngD students conduct extended research at the University EngD students add diversity to research groups and their networks

What is the associated effort?

This is normally less than for a conventional PhD student since whilst the Research Engineer is with the company day-today supervision is the main responsibility of the industrial supervisor and the academic’s role is to provide technical input and ensure that the work is appropriate for a doctorate. This will normally be done by periodic phone calls (typically monthly) and visits to the Research Engineer at the company. During periods when the Research Engineer visits the university the interaction will be similar to that for a PhD student.

What is the technical scope of the Centre?

Research projects should have a connection with optics and photonics technologies. Projects currently supported are in fundamental science, devices and systems, instrumentation, communications, photonic manufacturing and processing, microsystems, image processing and digital technologies for optics.

What organisations can host an EngD?

Organisations can be from the commercial or state sector: that is, companies of any size ranging from start ups to multinationals or government laboratories including those funded by DIUS, TSB, the Research Councils and the NHS. We currently support a small number of Research Engineers based abroad, however, to receive EPSRC support, the EngD project must be based in the UK.

How does the centre recruit research students?

The Centre for Doctoral Training recruits Research Engineers using a combination of advertising and our network of academic and industrial contacts. The two-stage appointment process involves interviews by the Centre and host university in the first instance. Applications considered to be suitable for the EngD programme are then passed to the sponsoring company for assessment and a joint decision is made on their appointment. Whilst the academic requirements for entry to the EngD programme is equivalent to that of a PhD, we also appraise candidates against the specific demands of conducting industrial research. It is also possible to recruit company employees as Research Engineers as described below.

Is it possible for company employees to register for an EngD?

Company employees may register for an EngD whilst remaining in employment with the company. In this case we make a payment to the company and employees are able to take the taught component by distance learning, although it is necessary to spend about ten days per year at the Industrial Doctorate Centre for laboratory work and intensive courses.

What about Intellectual Property?

In general Intellectual Property developed by the EngD project is owned by the company, but IPR is negotiated on a case-bycase basis. This might cover protection of background IP or IP developed by the supervisor in connection with the project.

I have an outline concept: what is the process to start an EngD project?

Discuss your proposed project with either the Centre Director or one of the partner university contacts listed below. We will need an outline description of the project, to include a summary of the main objectives. A leaflet Industrial Doctorate Centre in Optics and Photonics Technologies: Information for Academics, (subtly different from this one) is available from the Centre for you to provide to companies. If you are looking for a company partner for your idea then you should approach your university technology outreach service, although it is also possible that one of the contacts below may be able to offer advice. The process of accepting a project into our portfolio is very streamlined and we are generally able to commence the recruitment process shortly after agreement on the project description. Most projects start in September, but it is possible for projects to start at any time within the year.