SUSTech-Leeds Split-Site PhD programme

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Based on mutual research interests, the University of Leeds has partnered with the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen, China, to develop new collaborative projects.  

As part of this collaboration, 4-year scholarships are available to support joint projects though a Split-Site PhD programme. Students registered on this programme are funded to undertake research both at Leeds and SUSTech.

Research Topics in Biomedical Engineering

  • Electromyography-driven musculoskeletal model based control of wearable robotic exoskeleton
    Supervisors: Professor Zhiqiang Zhang (Leeds) and Professor Mingming Zhang (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Chemical and Process Engineering

  • Engineering lightweight/high-strength materials using foam and emulsion templates
    Supervisors: Dr David Harbottle (Leeds) and Professor Zhenghe Xu (SUSTech).
  • Reaction engineering for greener integration of  industrial processes
    Supervisors: Dr Javier Fernandez-Garcia (Leeds) and Dr Chun-Yu Ho (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Chemistry

  • Advanced biodegradable polymeric materials for gene delivery
    Supervisors: Dr Paul Thornton (Leeds) and Prof. Leilei Tian (SUSTech).
  • Innovative gold nanoparticle/biodegradable polymeric drug delivery vehicles for the effective treatment of cancer
    Supervisors: Dr Paul Thornton (Leeds) and Prof. Xingu Jian (SUSTech).
  • Bimetallic catalysts for a greener Suzuki cross-coupling
    Supervisors: Dr Bao Nguyen (Leeds) and Prof. Xumu Zhang (SUSTech).
  • Next generation probes and proteomic profiling of histidine phosphorylation
    Supervisors: Dr Michael Webb (Leeds) and Prof. Ruijun Tian (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Civil Engineering

Research Topics in Computing

  • Artificial Intelligence to build resources for indigenous minority languages and societies
    Supervisors: Prof. Eric Atwell (Leeds), Prof. Li Lan (SUSTech), Dr Tom Ko (SUSTech).
  • Automatic software bug detection and fixing by learning from large code examples
    Supervisors: Dr Zheng Wang (Leeds) and Dr Shin Hwei Tan (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Electronic and Electrical Engineering

  • New enabling technologies for next generation robotic devices
    Supervisors: Prof. Shane Xie (Leeds) and Prof. Mingming Zhang(SUSTech).
  • Single-cell K+ sensor with functionalized nanopipettes
    Supervisors: Dr Paolo Actis (Leeds) and Prof. Yanqing Tian (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Mathematics

Research Topics in Mechanical Engineering

  • The dispersion of nanomaterials and their applications in lubrication
    Supervisors: Dr Shahriar Kosarieh (Leeds) and Dr Dazhi Sun (SUSTech).

Research Topics in Physics & Astronomy

  • Combined spin and electron transport
    Supervisors: Dr Joseph Barker (Leeds) and Prof. Ke Xia (SUSTech).
  • Topological quantum computation
    Supervisors: Dr Jiannis Pachos (Leeds) and Prof. Yu Dapeng (SUSTech).
  • Liquid crystal droplets and their applications
    Supervisors: Prof. Helen Gleeson (Leeds) and Dr Luo Dan (SUSTech).
  • Development of biodegradable polymer nanoparticle using microfluidic devices
    Supervisors: Dr Jung-uk Shim (Leeds) and Prof. Xingyu Jiang (SUSTech).

Research topics in Environment and Geography are also offered within this programme: 

Entry requirements

To be considered for funding under this programme, you’ll need to meet Leeds’ minimum entry requirements for Split-Site research degrees. You should have, or expect to obtain the equivalent of a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant engineering or science discipline. If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you have English language proficiency of at least IELTS 6.5 (with no component below 6.0) or an equivalent English language qualification.

Programme structure

You will spend the first year of the programme based in Leeds, followed by two years and nine months of research at SUSTech, based in Shenzhen. You will then return to Leeds to complete your thesis for three months in the final year.


Once you are enrolled on this programme, SUSTech will provide a studentship to fund your tuition fees and to contribute to your living costs, both during the period of study in Leeds and in Shenzhen.

How to apply

The application deadline for the current round of funding has now elapsed. For details of subsequent funding opportunities available within this programme please contact the SUSTech Graduate School Admissions Office, email: