ATLAS PhD Students

CLIC PhD study


Our postgraduate training is provided within the framework of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) Graduate School, and provides opportunities to attend various summer schools and physics workshops, as well as to spend time at overseas laboratories such as CERN. The Graduate School provides a structure for progress reports and performance and development review, as well as for student feedback on the quality of supervision. Each student is appointed a first and a second supervisor, so you will be well supported.

‌We put great emphasis on expertise in the field and on generic skills training. Via SUPA, we offer an exceptionally strong and broad training programme in particle physics and related technical skills (such as statistical analysis, programming, and Linux operation). Students choose, with input from their supervisors, which courses to attend depending on their interests in theoretical or experimental physics.

Transferable skills are fostered through the Department and Faculty Graduate Schools. Amongst other activities all Faculty research students attend a residential course on Great Cumbrae Island for teamwork skills. All PPE and PPT students attend the appropriate STFC summer school in Particle Physics at the end of year one, are encouraged to attend STFC entrepreneurship training, and other summer schools and workshops throughout their PhD.

Find out more about our current research projects below.  Other projects may arise on the border of theory and experiment, for example involving beyond-Standard-Model (BSM) interpretations of our ATLAS and LHCb areas of expertise.


Beam View of UK Endcap

We expect to offer one or more STFC-funded studentships in this area starting in Sept/Oct 2024 and are glad to consider candidates for scholarship funding.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is probing the structure of matter at the highest energies achieved in a collider.  By making precision measurements in Higgs, top-quark, and electroweak physics we can probe the structure of the Standard Model and looking for deviations that could indicate new physics. 

Following the discovery of a Higgs-like particle at the LHC in 2012, many measurements remain to be made to verify whether it is a Standard-Model Higgs boson, or something more exotic.  In the ATLAS collaboration, the Glasgow group's efforts are in the channels where a Higgs boson is produced in association with a W or Z boson or in association with a pair of top quarks, and then decays to b-quarks.  The LHC is a top-quark factory, and the ATLAS datasets allow unprecedented measurements of this, the heaviest of the known elementary particles.

We also study the behaviour of the strong nuclear force, Quantum Chromodynamics, which is a key factor in all LHC analyses and presents many theoretical difficulties that can only be resolved by confronting predictions with increasingly challenging experimental measurements. Our QCD analysis efforts are centred on understanding how heavy c and b quarks are produced, and the structure of QCD particle jets: these aspects of QCD are central to our programme of Higgs and top-quark measurements.

The successful candidate will undertake exciting research within a strong Glasgow ATLAS group.  They will be expected to travel for short trips to CERN, Geneva and will have the opportunity to spend an extended period at CERN.

Potential projects for 2024 are listed below:

ATLAS Project 1: QCD dynamics at high energy

Supervisor: Prof Andy Buckley

Our partial understanding of how the strong interaction behaves in practice is a key limitation on much of the current and future collider programme, and will become increasingly dominant in the high-statistics limit of LHC Run 3 and the High-Luminosity LHC.  Heavy quarks are one of the least well-understood quantities, as their mass modifies both how they are produced and how they radiate (forming heavy-quark jets): current models disagree on how best to do this, creating large differences in their predictions at high energies and in the special configurations used by Higgs-boson and new-physics studies.  This project will centre on novel measurements of heavy-quark jets and on improved modelling, increasing our knowledge of quantum chromodynamics and addressing a major source of uncertainty in energy-frontier studies.



We expect to offer one or more STFC-funded studentships in this area starting in Sept/Oct 2024 and are glad to consider candidates for scholarship funding.

Potential projects for 2024 are listed below:

LHCb Project 1: Exotic hadrons

Supervisor: Dr Mark Whitehead

We are currently in a golden age for spectroscopy measurements, led by the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment at CERN. The LHCb experiment has discovered 64 hadronic particles, with 23 so-called exotic candidates. These exotic hadrons are made from combinations of 4, 5, or perhaps even 6 quarks. Studying excited hadrons provides a test for our understanding of the strong interaction, with such particles being predicted by techniques such as lattice QCD.  The perfect laboratory to explore these phenomena are decays of beauty hadrons (containing a b-quark) to final states including charm hadrons (containing a c-quark). New data samples from LHC Run 3 will provide more data and opportunities than ever before.

Accurate simulations of particle physics processes are crucial to model the production of particles at the LHC, and describe the detectors and the interactions between the particles and the material.  Alongside the data analysis part of this project, development work on the simulations will support physics analyses and the design and optimisation of new detectors for LHCb.

LHCb Project 2: New physics searches using semileptonic b-hadron decays and future tracking system performance

Supervisor: Dr Lucia Grillo

The LHCb experiment is designed to search for effects of physics beyond the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics through precision measurements using beauty- and charm-hadron decays.  Recent experimental results have hinted to the breakdown of Lepton Universality: the  principle according to which the weak force coupling strength is the same to the electron as to its heavier partners, the muon and tau. New measurements of decays of beauty hadrons to lighter hadrons a charged lepton and a neutrino (also known as semileptonic decays) are essential to establish the effect and investigate the nature of potential New Physics processes. You will measure differences in angular asymmetries for different lepton flavours in data collected by LHCb, providing new, stringent constraints to the experimental picture. To understand the data sample composition, you will need to explore decays of b-hadrons to excited charm states not yet observed or very poorly measured.  Your work will profit from effective synergy with the particle physics theory group in Glasgow.

Excellent track and vertex reconstruction capabilities are at the heart of the LHCb physics programme: you will study possible strategies to reconstruct the trajectories of charged particles through the detector in high instantaneous luminosity conditions, and you will use the evaluated performance to inform the design of the tracking system for LHCb future upgrades.


PhD students in this area work within the Glasgow LHCb group of seven research staff and four PhD students.  Activities include the analysis of data, and running and operating the experiment.  Students are expected to travel to CERN in Geneva regularly, and to spend a period of around one year based at CERN.



We do not expect to offer an STFC-funded studentship in this area for 2024; however, we are glad to consider candidates for scholarship funding.

Following longstanding involvement in neutrino physics, the Glasgow group is currently working in the T2K long-baseline neutrino oscillation experiment, and for the upgrade of the Super-Kamiokande experiment, called Hyper-Kamiokande (Hyper-K).  

At T2K, a predominantly muon-neutrino beam, generated at the J-PARC accelerator facility in Tokai, changes flavour and appears as electron-neutrinos at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov detector in the Kamioka mine, at a distance of 300 km. This allows the study of neutrino interactions in the near detector facility at T2K and use of these data to contribute to the analysis of neutrino and antineutrino oscillations. The ultimate goal of the experiment is to determine differences between the rate of appearance of electron-neutrinos and electron-antineutrinos as a demonstration of CP violation with neutrinos.



We do not expect to offer an STFC-funded studentship in this area starting in Sept/Oct 2024, but would be glad to consider candidates for scholarship funding.

The Glasgow group has been a central part of the analysis of the pre-2018 data, working on both the normalisation channel and the upstream backgrounds in the signal channel.  The LHC "Long Shutdown 3" has provided a window of opportunity to develop more modern analysis techniques using Machine Learning to improve upon previous cut-based analysis for the data taken from 2021 onwards.