A warm welcome to our Part II pages, where you will find some general information on projects available for the 2014/15 academic year. While we are located in the ICL, we are a group with interests that span quite a number of related research areas — from solid state chemistry to materials science to physics. A common theme amongst our different interests is that of understanding atomic-scale structure, and in particular how the geometric arrangement of atoms within a material can bring about unusual and interesting properties. There are usually experimental projects for those who like getting their hands dirty, theoretical projects for those who prefer the idea of programming a computer to do the hard work, and others that are somewhere in-between.

The group itself is (hopefully) in the ‘goldilocks’ zone of being neither too small nor too big. We work hard to maintain a relaxed and supportive environment, preferring an emphasis on creative thinking instead of simply forcing people to put in as many hours as possible at the bench.

If you are interested in finding out more about joining the group for your Part II, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a chat. Whether or not you manage to find us all during the ICL Part II open day, please do make an appointment to come and meet Andrew and the group separately at some other time that suits you.

Some typical project areas

  • Local structure in disordered materials
  • Old compounds, new perspectives: magnetic oxides
  • Anomalous mechanics
  • Data storage in metal–organic frameworks

Conferences, collaboration, and travel

All Part IIs in the group attend at least one conference during the year. This gives each student a chance to talk to people about what they’re doing (always good practice for the viva), to get a feel for what is happening in the broader field, to meet some people from other UK chemistry departments, and to find out what research-level discourse looks and feels like.

Our research group collaborates widely with chemists, physicists, geoscientists, materials scientists, and engineers based in universities and central facilities throughout the UK and and the world. There is a good chance that you will get to work with a variety of people during a Part II, perhaps even spending a week or two at a lab overseas. Previous Part II students have carried out some of their experimental work in the south of France or Virginia, for example.

Track record

Our view is that the Part II has worked if students achieve a genuine sense of ownership over the ideas developed throughout their projects. By balancing risk, and by allowing students the freedom to explore their own ideas, we have found that the vast majority of Part IIs in the group end up with a first.

Some do even better: our Part IIs have won the Inorganic Chemistry thesis prize three times in the past four years.

Many of our Part II students have published their results in the world’s most prestigious chemistry, physics, and materials science journals — JACS, Chemical Science, Physical Review Letters, Nature Materials.

The choice of what to do following a Part II is always an important one. Our goal is to make sure that options are as open as possible. We have had Part IIs stay on in the group for a DPhil or take up PhD positions in chemistry, geosciences, and physics departments elsewhere; others have moved directly to jobs in the city, in teaching, or in chemical industry.