PhD Future power networks & smart grids

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Research opportunities

The way in which we produce and consume energy is changing. We can no longer rely on the centralised power generation model of yesterday, to solve the global energy challenge of providing clean, affordable and reliable energy.

The power system of tomorrow is being shaped by climate change policy, socio-economic pressures and technological advances in materials science, power electronics, communications and data processing.

Two of the UK’s leading research institutions for power systems, the University of Strathclyde and Imperial College London, have combined their expertise and world-class facilities to establish a centre that will address this global energy challenge. It has been designed to produce world-leading engineers with the cross-disciplinary expertise needed to help realise the future low carbon smart grid.

The centre is supported by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in partnership with leading UK engineering consultancies, equipment manufacturers and network operators. A unique training and research programme blends together leading-edge information and communications technology solutions, radical new power systems architectures and innovative market mechanisms to support the increasing renewable energy deployment and electrification of transportation and heating.

Windfarm near Aberdeen

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you'll study

This four-year programme is composed of a one-year MRes instructional course and three-year PhD research study.

Year 1 – Instructional course (MRes)

You'll complete a series of short intensive research-led Masters-level courses delivered jointly by Strathclyde and Imperial College, combined with professional engineering skills and research methodologies training.

You're based primarily at Strathclyde, but complete a two-week course in Power electronics in February, and a one-week course in Risk management in May at Imperial. All costs associating with the visits to London are covered by the centre.

The Masters-level courses cover the smart-grid concept, protection systems, communications networks, operational reliability, asset management, the role of interconnection and European network integration, and power electronics. You'll develop an in-depth understanding of traditional power systems design and operation, and gain industrial context for your PhD topic.

Potential PhD topics are explored through the completion of two industry-inspired mini-projects.

Years 2 to 4 – Research study (PhD)

You'll study for a PhD in a research topic of your choice. You'll also complete an industrial or international work placement of up to three months, and be required to participate in joint events, activities and training at Strathclyde and Imperial College.

Research topics are broad-ranging, based on industry needs and ongoing electrical power and energy research within both institutions. Example topics include:

  • future power networks and smart grid paradigm
  • control and protection of future networks
  • communications for power networks
  • power electronics for transmission and distribution networks
  • asset management and condition monitoring
  • managing risk and uncertainty in grid operation
  • offshore and pan-European super-grids
The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless otherwise stated.

Entrants may be subject to a small fee during the writing up period.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland





Studentships are available for UK and eligible EU citizens, who have or are about to obtain a UK first-class or upper second-class BEng (Honours), MEng or MSc degree, or equivalent EU qualification, in a relevant physical sciences or engineering discipline.

The centre is composed of students from a variety of age groups, academic and industry backgrounds, and experience; from physics graduates and civil engineers to power systems industry experts returning to academia.

The studentships cover university tuition fees, provide a highly competitive stipend to help with living costs, and a travel allowance for conference attendance, for the full four years of the programme.

EU applicants are only eligible for the stipend if they have been resident in the UK for three years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting the programme. If an EU applicant cannot fulfil this condition, they are only eligible for the tuition fees element of the studentship.

International students may be eligible for the studentships if they are 'settled' in the UK. 'Settled' means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of the stay. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode, Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.

Students with full refugee status are eligible for the tuition fees and stipend elements of the studentship.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Map of the world.

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Support & development

Academic support

Continuous learning: a programme of continuous professional development supplements your research, with courses designed to develop skills such as project management, health and safety, writing with confidence, presentation and communication, along with opportunities for conference attendance and industrial engagement.

Industrial/international placements: in Year 2 of your PhD, you have the opportunity to spend up to three months with an associated industrial partner, or at an international academic institution to enhance interaction and explore options for collaborations between academia and industry.

Two academic supervisors: supervision by world-class academics from the UK’s leading research institutions for power systems.

Conference attendance: all students receive a dedicated annual conference budget. With guidance from their supervisor, you'll identify the most suitable conferences to attend to advance your learning and share experiences in your field of research. All students attend the annual UK Low Carbon Network & Innovation conference. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest technological and management developments within the UK power sector.

Personal development

Upon joining the centre, you'll have the opportunity to participate in the professional engineering development society (PEDS). This student-led society coordinates a number of personal development, schools and public outreach activities, and industry engagement events, including:

  • outreach – you can participate in outreach activities as a STEM ambassador, to promote the benefits that science and engineering subjects can do in the world
  • industrial engagement – you can participate in activities including site visits, guest lectures, and network with industry through academic presentations and assessments
  • communications – you can participate in promotion of the Centre through providing news and updates via digital marketing and social media platforms
  • social – you can help organise social events and recreational activities


Engineering Chartership (CEng)

Chartership is not an expectation, but it's available to professional engineers interested in obtaining recognition for their work.

It normally takes about five years to achieve CEng status following graduation from a professionally-accredited undergraduate degree. The centre aims to support you with targeted training activities to develop the necessary academic and professional competencies required for Chartership (CEng) with the professional body, the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET).

From the outset of the PhD component, you'll be encouraged to record your professional development activities which will contribute towards your Chartership application. Professional development can include a range of activities, such as attendance at conferences, presentations made, roles held within working groups/committees, and any training courses completed.

Career development

There's currently a global shortage of trained power systems engineers. Transmission systems and distribution networks operators such as ScottishPower, SSE, UK Power Networks and Northern Powergrid are always looking for highly skilled engineers who can bring knowledge and experience to their rapidly changing industry.

Alternatively, you may work on the development of novel power generation or storage solutions, the implementation of performance monitoring sensors and smart demand management systems. Opportunities also exist to create new products and services that can be developed as university spin-out and student start-up companies, in which both Strathclyde and Imperial have significant expertise and success.

Postgraduate research at the Strathclyde Doctoral School

The Strathclyde Doctoral School provides a vibrant and comprehensive student-centred research and training environment in order to grow and support current and future research talent. The School encompasses our four faculties and is committed to enriching the student experience, intensifying research outputs and opportunities, and ensuring training is at the highest level. As a postgraduate researcher, you'll automatically become a member of the Strathclyde Doctoral School.

Find out more about the Doctoral School

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Our research

Research in education places a strong emphasis on collaboration and cross-disciplinary working. Education at Strathclyde produces leading research focused on nine overlapping themes with national and international relevance:

  • additional support needs and autism
  • educational and social practices in curricular subjects
  • equity and achievement
  • health and wellbeing
  • languages education
  • methodologies for change
  • professional learning, identity and enquiry
  • rights, citizenship and dialogue
  • education, philosophy and culture
Find out more about our research

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Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree at Strathclyde?

Read our step-by-step guide on how to submit your application.

How to apply
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How can I apply?

Applications open annually from 1 October and are accepted all year round.

To apply, complete an online application, uploading copies of your academic transcripts, degree certificate, passport, and a covering letter explaining why you are interested in studying on the programme. Your application will be for the one-year instructional MRes in the first instance, with transfer to the PhD made at the end of Year 1 upon satisfactory completion of the MRes.

Applications are reviewed by an Academic Panel, with selected candidates then invited for interview. Interviews are conducted between January and July. These are held at either the University of Strathclyde or Imperial College London, depending on candidates’ geographical location.

Decisions on interviews are confirmed within one working week, with successful candidates made a formal offer of a studentship.

Entry requirements

Studentships are available to UK citizens who have, or are about to obtain, a first-class or upper-second Honours or MSc degree in a physical sciences or engineering discipline.

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Contact us

Academic enquiries:

Professor Stephen McArthur

Telephone: +44 (0)141 548 4838


Admissions enquiries:

Shirley Kirk

Telephone: +44(0)141 548 5769