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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Developing National Capability in Materials 4.0 with the Henry Royce Institute


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Developing National Capability for Materials 4.0

Lead the digital revolution in materials science!

Right now, society faces huge, urgent challenges. From the imperative to achieve net-zero, to the need to build a resilient, circular economy in an uncertain world, to the drive for increased productivity as fellow nations embrace the digital revolution. To tackle these challenges, we need new materials and new materials systems, and we need them fast. But it can take 20 years to develop a new material with current methods. We need to innovate faster, as the pace of global change accelerates.

We are seeking scientists and engineers keen to acquire new skills and work in new ways, to help us realise the potential of the digital and data revolutions in materials science. This is Materials 4.0.

You will join a cohort of like-minded PhD students as part of a new CDT in Materials 4.0, led by the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research. You will have a home in one of seven leading UK research universities and undertake a research project supervised by a leading researcher and sponsored by industry.

You will be trained in all aspects of digital materials science, including robotics, data science, machine learning, and sensing and control. You will become a pioneer and leader in this exciting new way of doing science.

Globally, companies are racing to adopt a materials informatics framework, combining capabilities from risk management, materials modelling, AI/machine learning, manufacturing informatics, and life-cycle simulation.

Professor Will Parnell
CDT Co-Director


“Materials 4.0 is a very exciting new field, combining a range of digital research tools that will allow us to innovate the way that we do materials science and in particular, to design new and improved materials and materials systems. As a relatively new area of research, it’s important that we establish a strong training centre to train a large number of PhD students with a new set of skills, and this CDT will do precisely this.

I’m looking forward to Directing the Centre, together with Chris Race from the University of Sheffield.  A fantastic range of academic and external partners across the UK, and the Henry Royce Institute, will add huge value to the Centre. These organisations, in concert with the students that the centre will train, will help society to tackle critically important challenges that we are facing over the next 50 years, including those associated with the green economy and sustainability. I’m looking forward to working with our team to establish the CDT and grow it over the years to come.”


The CDT brings together the complementary strengths of two national institutes and seven research intensive universities.

A range of Partners means experience in teaching and training is provided in all aspects of Materials 4.0. The academic partners can draw on large numbers of undergraduate and post-graduate modules in key topics across materials science and each provides a range of training in technical and professional skills for PhD students. NPL brings long experience of successfully running a national programme of PGR training through their Postgraduate Institute for Measurement Science.

As a student, you will benefit from an innovative approach to delivery. By becoming a Royce PhD student, you will be part of a broad cultural change in materials science, disseminating your new skills across research and into industry. The CDT will develop new leaders that make Materials 4.0 a ubiquitous approach to conducting materials science.  It offers flexible and inclusive pathways for study, including options for part-time study and the opportunity to study whilst working and being sponsored by your employer.



Royce CDT research projects will create new ways of working across all sub-domains of materials science.

Each year, a range of projects covering all aspects of Materials 4.0 and spanning across the Royce Research Areas will be available in advance of each cohort recruitment phase.

Get in touch via to find out more.


The Royce Materials 4.0 CDT is led by two Co-Directors and the Management Board comprised of Co-Investigators from Royce Partners and NPL.


Professor Will Parnell, University of Manchester
Principal Investigator for the Centre
Professor of Applied Mathematics

Professor Chris Race, University of Sheffield
Co-Director and Co-Investigator
UKAEA Chair in Fusion Materials


Dr Kathy Christofidou, University of Sheffield
Senior Lecturer in Metallurgy & Royce Technology Platform Lead
Industry Liaison and Impact Lead

Professor Richard Bourne, University of Leeds
Professor of Digital Chemical Manufacturing
Academic Progression Committee Chair

Dr Enzo Liotti, University of Oxford
Departmental Lecturer in Processing of Advanced Materials
Responsible Research and Innovation & Environmental Sustainability Lead

Professor Rachel Oliver, University of Cambridge
Professor of Materials Science
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead

Professor Brad Wynne, University of Strathclyde
Head Of Department for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Entrepreneurship and Employability Lead

Professor Aron Walsh, Imperial College London
Chair of Materials Design
Student Liaison and Wellbeing Lead

Dr Andrew Pollard, National Physical Laboratory
Science Area Leader for the Surface Technology Group
Training and CDT Network Liaison Lead

Students will be based at a Royce Partner University and conduct research in the group of their Academic Supervisor.

Students working on industry projects will have an Industry Supervisor in addition to their Academic Supervisor.


“Our new CDT is a really exciting development for Royce. We are going to build a training centre to address key challenges in materials science and drive the adoption of new ways of doing research. I’m really pleased to be leading the new centre, alongside Manchester’s Will Parnell and our great team at Royce and the partner organisations.

“Building a training initiative is a daunting challenge, but I am sure it will be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to seeing our team and our training programme grow over the coming months. Training a new generation of scientists is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job, and seeing our CDT students go out into the world and apply the skills they learn in our centre will be a fantastic reward.”

Dr Chris Race
CDT Co-Director

Course Structure

A new generation of researchers will be trained in the digitalisation of materials science, with students going on to work in UK academia and industry, applying knowledge and skills to shorten the time materials take to reach market.

The core principle behind the training programme is to take students ‘from learners to leaders’ over the course of their studies. Bringing together high-throughput experimentation and modelling, big data and ML will transform materials science.

The CDT will provide students with the necessary skills and training to become a new type of scientist working in materials. But the ambition is to build an even broader skills base for UK academia and industry. Students will begin by learning core skills, but as you develop proficiency and confidence you will play a role in training other students, both within and external to the CDT.

Research projects will focus on developing new methods and tools within Materials 4.0, and in the last two years of study you will develop training materials to support your work. This will further develop your abilities as a trainer and help to disseminate your work and methodology. For students from industry or based with industrial projects this will offer a rapid route to impact for the training and new methods.

Industry Partnerships

The centre already has support from start-ups, SMEs, and international corporations – with pledged contributions exceeding £3m in direct funding for studentships. Industry partners will also provide opportunities for student placements and enable access to facilities and material samples for student research.

Partner domains range from energy production to advanced metallurgy, to semiconductor innovation and beyond. They also include software development companies and data science for materials organisations, as well as instrument manufacturers.

New skills and expertise in Materials 4.0 are needed right now across the UK. Students are being trained as leaders and will be taking the training materials they develop in the CDT out into the wider community.

Get in touch

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