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Submitting a PhD proposal

The ILL hosts around 40 PhD students. The topics of these PhDs cover every possible type of research with neutrons.

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Submitting a PhD proposal

Submitting a PhD proposal


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.


There is usually one call for proposals per year, in the autumn. Next deadline for submitting a PhD proposal is midnight Friday 24 November 2017.


By sending the application form and the signed Terms of Agreement (ToA) electronically to: 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).



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…).



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

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 2018.

Final selection will occur around the end of February 2018, when the ILL supervisors of the shortlisted projects will be invited to present their respective projects.

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.

For more information see here.


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


How will the PhD work be organised?

See PhD work at the ILL


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.





Phone: +33 (0) 4 76 20 7179