The CDT in Molecules to Product offers an exciting opportunity to undertake a fully funded 4-year PhD programme, with bespoke training courses which have been identified by industry to fill skills gapsThe training courses span the duration of the PhD and will contribute to your understanding of the product development lifecycle, alongside developing your professional and business know-how. 

A Multidisciplinary Programme

The Multidisciplinary nature of this programme is truly unique.  You’ll learn from peers with a different background to you and enjoy the benefits of a built-in support network. Starting with the induction event, there’s a wide programme of technical and social events for you to enjoy with your peers throughout the year as Physicists, Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Mathematicians, Food Scientists, and others work together to look at the challenges from every angle. You will learn from each other, and help each other to have a broaderunderstanding, and improve communication with people from outside of your own discipline.  This will help you to enhance your future career, by developing you into a future leader with a broad range of skills and knowledge.

Our Postgraduate Researchers have the opportunity to work together to solve a scientifically challenging PhD research problem set by industry, which addresses elements of the product development lifecycle. The solution you come up with has the potential to change the way that industry thinks and the way in which products are made.

Training Courses

You will undertake non-credit bearing training courses as a cohort in areas that span the CDT themes. The training courses are designed to develop essential skills for success, alongside courses that develop your entrepreneurial, cross disciplinary skills as well as professional and business skills.   

Training courses are grouped into: Cross-Disciplinary Training, Professional and Business Skills, and Advanced Technical Skills. The combination of these courses will develop your understanding of all aspects of the product development lifecycle and develop you as a person in terms of your professional development. 

Cross-Disciplinary Training comprises of 5 compulsory week-long courses that will introduce and consolidate your understanding of cross-disciplinary challenges associated with the three CDT themes.  Four of these training courses will be undertaken in the first 3 months of the CDT programme, with the final one undertaken in year 2. 

There are a further five Professional and Business Skills courses. Four of which are week-long courses, covering professional skills (Year 1), decision making (Years 1 and 2), and innovation and enterprise (Year 3). Public engagement and outreach skills will be developed in years 2 to 4 of the programme. 

You will select two Advanced Technical Skills courses to undertake in years 2 and 3. These will complement your research project and may be selected from a range of courses run at the University of Leeds, at other UK or international institutions, or in industry. 


Whilst a traditional PhD sees postgraduates working alone on a specific single project, the CDT aims to cover areas of the product development lifecycle which need to be addressed but are too big for an individual to address in isolation. The CDT gives everyone the opportunity to be part of a team working towards a common goal – to enable industry to mitigate against wasted development time and costs and to focus on products and processes where the risk of failure is reduced. 

Projects will be grouped under an overarching research challenge link to research challenges here and your research project will focus on specific aspects of the research challenge.  You will be contributing to the new design and supply approach that will revolutionise the product development lifecycle. Your research projects will embrace one or more of the themes link to research theme here and draw on both your interests and strengths. 

When you apply you will be asked to select a primary and secondary theme. Projects will typically link across themes and work towards addressing the vision of the CDT link to home page vision, ultimately creating a change in the way industry works.  

Research projects cover a range of structures from those where you will work solely within an academic environment through to those in partnership with industry including multinationals and SMEs (small to medium enterprises).  

During the initial 3 months, you will work with academic and industry supervisors to develop a project whilst undertaking the initial training courses. You will commence full time work on your PhD project at the beginning of the 4th month of the programme.  

The table below provides a limited number of exemplar projects. 

Examples of projects being worked on by our current Postgraduate Researchers are available here.

Future Careers

Our industry partners tell us that to compete at the forefront of global markets, they need to recruit postgraduates with more than just top-class research and technical skills. They want future leaders with interdisciplinary understanding who can take functional molecules and molecular systems right through to a product with the desired structure, function and performance. Our combination of research and industry-driven taught courses helps develop individuals with the confidence, entrepreneurial attitude and business acumen to put the UK back at the forefront of product development.