How to Apply

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Entry Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class, 2:1 (or equivalent) degree in a physical sciences subject such as physics, electrical and mechanical engineering.

Applicants must be from the UK/ EU in order to qualify for funding.

Non-native English speakers must ensure they meet the English language requirements.


English Language Requirements

Non-native English speakers need to provide evidence of a SELT (Secure English Language Test) at CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) Level B2 taken within 2 years of the date of application. 

There are several types of SELT but IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the most common. The minimum requirement is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, no individual component can be less than 6.0 in a single sitting.  

A degree from an English speaking university can also be accepted.


How to apply

Applications can be submitted via the Heriot-Watt website at

Under level of study, please select ‘Postgraduate Research’, then choose ‘Applied Photonics, EngD’ as your programme selection. 

Please submit the following supporting documents:

  • An up-to-date CV
  • Previous degree certificates and transcripts (if your transcript is in a language other than English, please submit an English version. you can obtain these from your university)
  • References or contact details of two academic references. (Employer references are also accepted from applicants applying from a relevant industry background)

Under the field Research project information’ please list your projects of interest and your order of preference. Please note you are not required to submit a project proposal when applying to our CDT.



Each eligible EngD student will receive a scholarship of at least £21,277 per annum and have fees paid for the duration of the 4 year programme.

PhD students receive at least £14,777 per annum and have fees paid for the duration of the 4 year programme.

Both EngD and PhD students will also receive additional funding of up to £3,000 to attend conferences and training.


Who is eligible for funding?

UK and eligible EU students: Full funding (fees and stipend) is available for UK students and for EU students who have been in the UK for the last three years (for example on a full-time degree course). 

Other EU students: We have a limited number of studentships available for EU students who have not been in the UK for the last three years.

The CDT in Applied Photonics is committed to its EU students, staff and research partners. We want to reassure European applicants for the September 2019/20 intake to our programme that there has so far been no change to the funding of our programme and we will continue to support our EU students for the duration of their study. If you have any concerns, please contact the CDT office.

The Scottish government has confirmed that EU citizens who study a Further or Higher Education course in Scotland in the 2020/21 academic year will be charged the same tuition fees and will get the same fee support as Scottish students for the entirety of their courses. This offer of tuition fee support will stand even if current legal obligations to EU students cease to apply when the UK exits the EU.

We regret that applicants from outside the EU are not eligible for funding on our programme.

If you have any questions about your fee status, please contact our International Student Advisors Office for advice (


Interview process

We aim to contact all application within two weeks to inform them if we would like to invite them for an interview.

1st stage – Academic interview

Typically this involves the Director of the CDT, the Academic Programme Manager and the Academic Supervisor of your first choice project. This can either be a face-to-face interview (usually at Heriot-Watt University), or by Skype. The Centre will cover reasonable travel costs to attend an interview.

2nd Stage – Company Interview

After a successful academic interview we will pass on your application to the companies you have expressed interest in. They will then review your application and contact you if they would like to arrange an interview. After this interview, the company will notify the Centre of the outcome of the interview and in collaboration with the Centre Director and the project Academic Supervisor will decide whether to make an offer. The Centre will then contact you.