Propose a PhD project

Who can a submit proposal?

Any academic belonging to a university or affiliated institution in one of the ILL's Associate or Scientific Member countries with the authorisation to supervise PhD students. If the proposal is selected, the proposal owner becomes the external academic PhD supervisor.

On what topic?

Projects should be linked to fields of science covered by ILL research. Our most important criterion for selection is the quality of the project.

When?

There is usually one call for proposals per year, in the autumn. Next deadline for submitting a PhD proposal will be by the end of November 2018.

Projects satisfying the criteria relating to the academic in-house mission of the PhD programme are put into competition via a transparent selection process.  Selection is a two-stage process by a committee of experts. Owners of shortlisted projects will be notified around the end of January 2019.

Final selection will occur around the end of February 2019, when the ILL supervisors of the shortlisted projects will be invited to present their respective projects.

How?

By sending the application form and the signed Terms of Agreement (ToA) electronically to:PhD@remove-this.ill.fr. If your project is selected you will be asked to send the signed ToA paper to the recruitment department. Please download the new ToA version from our web site, do not use previous versions you might have in your possession.

In addition to the documents above, you must also enclose details of your research proposal and your curriculum vitae (see instructions below and in the application form).

Finally, as the ILL desires to maintain a Graduate School of the highest possible quality, which naturally includes the quality of the PhD students, the ILL will favor the selection of PhD projects whose proposals already include a strong PhD candidate (the CV and cover letter of the candidate should be attached to the email along with the other application documents).

Proposals

The proposal must provide technical information on the research to be performed: the state-of-the art of the research topic, any preliminary work already carried out, the project's objectives and experimental plan, and information on the access required to ILL beamtime and instruments. The length of the proposal should be between 2 and 4 pages.

The assessment criteria for proposals are:

  • Scientific quality of the project,
  • Quality of the proposed student for the project (in the case that a student is proposed),
  • Opportunity for collaboration with ILL scientists,
  • If relevant, complementary use of ILL support facilities (Deuteration laboratory, Partnership for Structural Biology…).

Co-funding

An offer to co-fund the project costs would be very welcome but is not a prerequisite. If you wish to propose a co-financing of the project, please refer to this document to determine its amount (50%, 30%, ..).

The selection process

The organisation of a PhD within the ILL PhD Programme involves a two-stage process:

1- Project selection 

Projects which satisfy the criteria relating to the academic in-house mission of the PhD programme are put into competition via a transparent selection process.
Scientific excellence is the main selection criterion. However, other criteria also play a role.
The mission of ILL PhD programme is to enhance the academic life of the ILL while at the same time training future experts in neutron science.
The PhD programme is in particular intended to help ILL scientists to strengthen their scientific profile by establishing close ties with the user community.
Therefore the ILL supervisor of a PhD proposal is expected to play an important role in the definition of the project.
In addition, ILL Management must make sure that a suitable balance is achieved in terms of the topical and national distribution of ILL PhD students.

Finally, as the ILL desires to maintain a Graduate School of the highest possible quality, which naturally includes the quality of the PhD students, the ILL will favor the selection of PhD projects whose proposals already include a strong PhD candidate (whose CV and cover letter should be attached to the email sent to phd(at)ill.fr along with the other application documents). 
If a proposal is selected, the proposal owners become the PhD supervisors.

2- Student selection

Any students interested in any of the selected PhD proposals may apply. Note that if a potential supervisor has a suitable candidate in mind, he/she can enclose the student’s application when submitting the PhD proposal.  As mentioned above, PhD proposals including a strong student candidate are favorably seen in the selection process.

It is the role of the external and ILL supervisors to select one candidate from among the applicants.

The student selected will then be invited to the ILL for an interview. The interview is held in English and lasts around one hour. About twenty minutes of this time will be devoted to a presentation of the student's diploma/master studies and an assessment of the PhD project. The rest of the time will be devoted to questions from the members of the interview panel. During the course of the day, the student will also meet one of the ILL directors privately, a member of our HR Service and some of our current PhD students. He/she will also be given a short tour of the relevant experimental facilities. Lunch will be provided and the ILL will reimburse the student's travel expenses.

The process is shown graphically and described in more details in these notes.

What if the project is successful?

The open positions are published on the "Open positions" page.

The projects looking for a student are published on our web site with links to the contact persons, usually the university and ILL supervisors. 
It is their task to select a suitable student. Their selection must then be approved at an interview held here at our institute. 
Students interested in any of the open positions can apply by contacting the relevant university supervisor. The ILL can offer students an internship related to the selected project if they have to complete an internship before preparing their PhD (as is the case for French students).
After agreeing on an appropriate application deadline, the supervisors (ILL and university) select the best candidate(s) and invite him/her for an interview at the ILL, which is not simply a formality.  If the supervisors already have a suitable candidate in mind, they can enclose his/her application (consisting of a CV and cover letter) with their PhD proposal.  As mentioned above, the ILL will view favorably the PhD proposals that include a strong PhD candidate as part of the initial PhD project submission.

In any case, the supervisors have 1 year, counting from the successful selection of their proposal near the end of February, to find a successful PhD candidate.

Please send the signed agreement letter in paper copy to our human resources service.

Note on individual applications

The status of the ILL does not authorise it to award academic degrees. Students can only be assigned to an accepted PhD project proposed by an academic institution. PhD proposals from individual students cannot be accepted.

Supervision of the thesis

Besides working with the university supervisor defined in the proposal, each PhD student will work with an ILL supervisor. The ILL supervisor will be responsible for ensuring that, from a practical and technical point of view, the thesis progresses under the appropriate conditions during the student’s stay at the ILL. He/she shares responsibility for the scientific aspects of the student's work with the university supervisor. The university supervisor has ultimate scientific and administrative responsibility for the submission of the thesis.

Thesis work at the ILL

Thesis work should be carried out primarily at the ILL. The thesis student will be given the opportunity to conduct experiments on scheduled instruments, within the limits of accepted experimental proposals, and can process the data and results at the ILL. In addition, the thesis student may be involved in the technical development of instruments or infrastructure.
As far as co-funded projects are concerned, part of the thesis work may be carried out at the student’s home university or laboratory. This and other specific arrangements may be specified in the contract.

Employment conditions

PhD students are employed for a period of up to three years, subject to the probationary arrangements of the university involved. They receive a gross salary of around 2350 €/month, together with other benefits depending on their marital and family status. No additional funds are provided for fees or the cost of consumables at the host university, but students can apply for support for travel to conferences and other activities associated with their research during the time they are at the ILL, as well as for consumables at the ILL.

PhD Contracts

What the ILL pays for

The ILL will pay the student’s salary (only partially in the case of co-funded PhDs). No additional funds will be provided to cover fees or the cost of consumables at the host university. However, students can apply for support towards the cost of travel to conferences and other activities associated with their research during the time they are at the ILL, as well as for consumables at the ILL. The ILL will allow students to teach a reasonable number of hours at the host university, but will not cover the associated travel expenses.

What the ILL can offer

The excitement of working at a large-scale facility in an international environment on a multi-institutional scientific campus.
Unrivalled hands-on experience leading to future employment opportunities in some of the world’s leading research centres.
World-class science!
The attractions of living in the heart of the French Alps, with excellent opportunities for skiing and other outdoor activities, one hour from Lyon, and only three hours from Paris, the Côte d’Azur and Provence.