Student support

Generating breakthrough ideas in materials science

Royce Materials PhD Virtual Research Sandpit

Date :
11 October 2021 - 20 October 2021
Time :
All Day
Event Type :
Research Sandpit

The PhD Research Sandpit Workshop will offer doctoral students the chance to experience the “Research Sandpit” format often used by research councils and other funders to stimulate and support new lines of thinking for tackling complex research challenges.  The workshop experience is a realistic reflection of the sandpit format that research councils use to design and fund large-scale proposals, in which experienced academics are carefully selected and brought together in an intensive proposal-creating environment. This is a great opportunity to meet and work with students from across the materials science community on a genuinely challenging problem.

Delegates will be asked to work in teams to develop new ideas for addressing a Grand Challenge in Materials Science.  The specific challenge for this workshop will only be unveiled to participants at the beginning of the event to encourage genuinely innovative thought and an open minded approach.

The event will run virtually, part-time over ten days, with a just a few scheduled meetings and events along the way, so it can be managed in parallel with a doctoral research workload.

At the end of the workshop, each team will submit a short written proposal capturing their ideas for tackling the Challenge, and then present their ideas to a distinguished review panel who will give detailed feedback.

Delegates will be doctoral candidates from across the UK materials science community, bringing together a broad range of skills to create fresh perspectives. Previous participants have been drawn from subjects such as physics, chemistry, maths, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, materials, and textiles design.

Read more about a previous Royce Virtual Research Sandpit event here.

To apply, please complete an application form and send to

  • Tackle a real Grand Challenge in Materials Science
  • Work in teams, across disciplines to broaden students’ research horizons and thinking skills
  • Learn new systematic approaches to problem solving
  • Receive mentoring from Royce staff and expert stakeholders from the Grand Challenge field.
  • Glowing student feedback from previous sandpit events
  • The event will take place virtually over Zoom
  • Attendance is free to all successful applicants

There are 24 places available at the Royce PhD Research Sandpit.

To apply, please complete the application form and send it to

Applicants will be selected based on the quality of their application and so as to achieve a blend of disciplines and backgrounds for the event.

Your application makes you eligible to be selected for further events of this kind as different challenge areas are chosen. We will keep your information and contact you as they arise.


Applications must be received by 00:00, Sunday 26 September 2021.

To enquire about the PhD Research Sandpit Scheme please contact