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  Project: Hypersonic Vehicle -Aerodynamics

   Department of Engineering Science

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  Prof Matthew McGilvray  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Research Studentship in Hypersonics

3.5-year D.Phil. studentship 

Project: Hypersonic Vehicle - Aerodynamics

Supervisors: Prof Matthew McGilvray 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.

This research project will explore the aerodynamic design of a hypersonic vehicle. Experimentally, this is complicated due to the response time of force measurement techniques and short duration of test times in high total enthalpy wind tunnels. This programme will look to develop a free-flight technique for application in the Oxford T6 facility. Once the technique is validated, this will be used to investigate the influence of high temperature gas effects on a hypersonic vehicle’s aerodynamics.

This project offers the opportunity to undertake fundamental research in the field of hypersonics, involving experiments in unique National Wind Tunnel Facilities and 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 Home student.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c. £8620 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is a minimum of c. £15609 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 encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Matthew McGilvray ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr. Luke Doherty ([Email Address Removed]).

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 22ENGTF_MMa in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: noon on Tuesday 1 March 2022 (In line with the March admissions deadline, set by the University)

Start date: October 2022

Engineering (12) Physics (29)
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 About the Project