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Research Studentships in Hypersonics

Research Studentships in Hypersonics

Project: Aerothermodynamics research for hypersonic vehicles

4-year D.Phil. studentships (possibly multiple)

Supervisors: Prof Matthew McGilvray, Prof Luca Di Mare and Dr Luke Doherty 

Hypersonic vehicles are broadly classed as flying at five times the speed of sound, which at sea level is over 4000 miles/hour (> 1.8 km/s). At these high speeds, complex interactions occur due to the conversion of extremely high kinetic energies into the internal energy of the gas, which can reach higher temperatures than those encountered on the surface of the sun (> 5000 K). This leads to high temperature gas effects, such as dissociation and ionisation of the gas, that can strongly influence the aerodynamic forces acting on a vehicle and the heating of the vehicle. 

Students are sought to explore research in the following areas:

Supersonic intake performance: To improve the performance of powered hypersonic vehicles, oxygen can be collected from the atmosphere. This is compressed to allow for efficient combustion cycles in high-speed engines such as scramjets. Efficient intake design is complicated by the impact on overall vehicle drag and complex thermal-structural interactions. This research will include both numerical and experimental components.

Thermochemistry in non-equilibrium flows: As the gas is compressed in front of hypersonic vehicles, this can dissociate and ionise the nitrogen and oxygen molecules. Due to the high speeds of the vehicle, these reactions may not reach equilibrium and can influence the aerodynamics, heating and communications. This research has both numerical and experimental aspects. 

Transpiration cooling: The injection of a coolant into the boundary layer of a hypersonic vehicle can reduce the incoming heat flux and create a barrier to oxidation. This has shown promise and continued research, both numerical and experimental, is needed to understand the utility of this technology for use in hypersonic vehicles. This continues on the research that has been undertaken in the Oxford Hypersonic group for the past 8 years.

This project offers the opportunity to undertake fundamental research in the field of hypersonics. In particular, students can perform experiments in the unique National Wind Tunnel Facilities, applying advanced ultrafast diagnostics. Further information on the research group and facilities are available at: 


To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) a student must be a UK citizen.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c. £8,960 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is a minimum of c. £18,198 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for two and a half more years.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Programming experience (i.e. Matlab, Python, etc.)
  • Strong laboratory-based skills

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged before applying and should be addressed to Prof Matthew McGilvray (, Prof Luca Di Mare ( and Dr. Luke Doherty (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 23ENGTH_MM in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: 7 April 2023

Start date: October 2023