"The CDT in Applied Photonics has given us access to talented individuals that have made significant contributions to our business through their drive to be innovative and explore new technologies.”

- Company Perspective

The CDT in Applied Photonics works with companies developing photonics-enabled products and services, from consumer technology and mobile computing devices to healthcare and security. Each of our collaborations is built around an EngD or PhD student, providing them with Masters level technical and business qualifications, along with an industrially-connected doctoral research project. Our graduates are unique individuals, whose experience in the industrial research laboratory has been complemented by a combination of specialist courses in science, business and engineering.


Companies can support a relevant PhD research project in a university laboratory, in return gaining early access to results, the potential to exclusively license foreground IP and the right to host the student at their site for 3 months of the project.


Most research in the Centre takes the form of EngD projects, in which a company is responsible for proposing and supporting the research project at their own facility. Foreground IP from the EngD project is assigned to the company.

About the Programme

The CDT in Applied Photonics 4-year commercially-focused doctoral degree for students who aspire to become future leaders in the field of optics and photonics.

Our students spend approximately 75% of their time conducting research at their company sponsor, and 25% of their time completing taught and professional skills courses.

Core technical courses take place at the universities of St Andrews, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt. In addition, optional courses are provided by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.


Each student has a dedicated academic supervisor (based at the host university of the project) and industrial supervisor (based within the sponsor company). In conjunction with the student, these two supervisors help to shape the research project.

Technical Scope

Research is supported across a full-range of applied photonics. An approximate list of current active research areas is shown below. The contact details for each of the ‘lead’ academics can be accessed through our contacts page. 

Additional academics are involved in current and prospective projects, as well as the management of the programme, and we welcome new colleagues to participate in the programme.

Benefits of becoming an Industrial Partner:

The research projects offer real benefits to the company in terms of increasing the research portfolio in a cost-effective way.

Our Programme provides opportunities for the sponsor company to collaborate with one of our six partner universities.

Opportunity to make contacts with other Sponsor Companies.

Option for existing company employees to study for a doctoral degree while continuing employment.

Current Partner Companies

We work with companies across sectors from healthcare and defence to manufacturing and metrology.

Got an idea for a project?

Any company with a research activity in the UK is eligible to participate.