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PhD Studentship in Applied Mathematics - The Early Universe as a Hologram

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Number of awards:


Start date and duration:

September 2019 for 3.5 years.


Research in string theory has shown that gravity is holographic: certain gravitational theories have an equivalent description in terms of a quantum theory, without gravity, living in one spacetime dimension less. Representing our sharpest understanding of quantum gravity to date, holography sheds new light on the fundamental problems of cosmology, from resolving the big bang singularity to explaining the pattern of perturbations visible in the temperature and polarisation of the cosmic microwave background.

According to the theory of inflation, these perturbations began as microscopic quantum fluctuations in the matter density and geometry of spacetime, which were subsequently stretched to macroscopic scales by the accelerated expansion of the universe. While the dynamics of this process can be constrained through measurements of the cosmic microwave background, it remains poorly understood from a fundamental theoretical perspective. This project will use holography to recast the four-dimensional early universe as a three-dimensional quantum field theory. Novel holographic approaches will be developed to explore the origin and symmetries of the primordial perturbations, building on recent advances in conformal field theory. Ultimately, the goal is to identify distinctive observational signatures of holography that can be tested through future cosmological observations.


Science and Technology Facilities Council and School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics (, Newcastle (

Name of supervisor(s):

Dr Paul McFadden and Professor Ian Moss.

Eligibility Criteria:

This studentship is available to candidates who have/expect to have a 2:1 honours degree or higher in Physics or Mathematical Physics, or an international equivalent.

Applicants whose first language is not English require a minimum of IELTS 6.5.

How to apply:

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application form (

Please include the following information:
•Insert the programme code 8080F in the programme of study section
•Select ‘PhD Mathematics (full time) – Applied Mathematics’
•Insert the studentship code MSP017 in the studentship/partnership reference field.
•Attach degree transcripts and certificates, a personal statement and CV.
The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code MSP017 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project.

Funding Notes

A tax-free stipend of £14,777 per year (subject to minor change) and 100% UK tuition fees. We will consider covering the EU/international fees for outstanding students and where possible.

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