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Doctoral Program in Plasma Physics for Overseas Students

2019-01-31  Click:[]

Introduction to the Program

We cordially invite highly-motivated students to apply for our PhD program in Plasma Physics in the school of Space Science and Physics at Shandong University Weihai.

Assisted by qualified supporting staff, we are a team of scientists working in space plasma physics in general, and the physics of plasmas filling the vast region extending from the Sun out to the Earth’s ionosphere in particular. We also work in the fields of observational astrophysics, planetary science, nuclear astrophysics, as well as satellite navigation and remote sensing. We have been heavily involved in China's space exploration programs, and conducting quality independent research since the establishment of this discipline in 2008 here at Weihai.

Areas of Research

(1) Physics of Solar Eruptions. This subfield focuses on solar eruptions, the eventual driver of hazardous space weather. Attention is paid to their physical mechanisms, coronal and interplanetary responses, as well as associated particle acceleration and radio bursts. Also under construction is a state-of-the-art solar radio observatory.

(2) Physics of the Solar Corona and Solar Wind. This subfield focuses on the mechanisms that heat the solar corona and accelerate the solar wind, using a synergistic approach by combining data analysis with theoretical and numerical methods. Also being developed are novel techniques for observing the solar atmosphere in optical and ultraviolet passbands.

(3) Magnetospheric and Planetary Physics. This subfield focuses on the response of the Earth’s magnetosphere to solar eruptions and the solar wind. It also combines laboratory studies with remote sensing of planetary materials, thereby exploring the origin and geologic evolution of planets as well as the interactions between planetary surface materials and the space environment. Our team plays an active role in China’s space missions exploring the Earth's magnetosphere, the Moon (i.e., the Chang'E Program), and Mars (e.g., Yinghuo-1 and China's Mars exploration missions).

(4) Ionospheric Physics and Satellite Navigation. This subfield focuses on the response of the Earth’s ionosphere to solar activities, and the magnetosphere-ionosphere -thermosphere coupling. Attention is paid to ionospheric irregularities, in particular their adverse consequences and the relevant coping strategy for satellite navigation. Also being developed are the applications of satellite navigation techniques to ionospheric exploration and oceanographic remote sensing.

(5) Nuclear Astrophysics. This subfield focuses on the understanding of the equation of state for dense matter and the interior of compact stars. One of the most exotic objects in the universe, compact stars provide a bridge from astrophysics to nuclear and particle physics. Our attention is paid to the properties of rotating neutron stars and strange quark stars based on the covariant density functional theory. Also of interest are the neutrino emissions of cooling neutron stars and the possible dark-matter admixed compact stars.

(6) Observational Astrophysics. This subfield focuses on several aspects of observational astrophysics, including blazar variability, variable stars and exoplanet searching using our 1-meter telescope of the Weihai Observatory. Attention is also paid to galaxy formation and evolution in the local and distant Universe with multi-wavelength datasets.

Entry Requirements

l Applicants are expected to have obtained their Masters’ degree in astronomy, plasma physics, space physics, solar physics, hydrodynamics, computational physics or related fields.

l Applicants are required to be capable of communicating efficiently in English. However, understanding of the Chinese language is NOT required.


Incoming students are assigned a faculty adviser by the graduate program coordinator in consultation with the student. Optionally, the faculty adviser may choose to establish an advising committee comprising 2 to 4 additional members with appointments in this school together with one external advisor.


This program is nominally for 4 years, but can be extended to 6 years under exceptional circumstances.

Course Requirements

Students must enroll in and pass the examination of courses with a minimum of 10 credits, including 2 from seminars. To obtain the full credits from seminars, students are required to be at present at a minimum of 15 seminar sessions, and present at least 5 lectures during these sessions.

Qualifying Assessments

As per university policy, all doctoral students are required to pass qualifying assessments before proceeding to their thesis work. These assessments take place at the end of the third semester. The examining committee consists of the faculty advisor, the postgraduate program coordinator and at least two additional faculty members. The student is expected to prepare a research proposal on a project approved by his/her advisor. This needs to be presented to the committee orally. The committee examines the originality, scientific merit and feasibility of the proposal. The committee examines the student’s fundamental knowledge in the discipline as well.

The examining committee issues the following marks towards this assessment:

l Excellent. This is issued to a maximum of 20% of the students attending this assessment.

l Pass.

l No-Pass. The student can still have the possibility to take another assessment.

l Fail. This means the termination of the student’s enrolment in the doctoral program.

The “No-Pass” and “Fail” marks are issued to no less than 15% of all the students taking part in a particular qualifying assessment. These assessments take place ONLY ONCE every year. The mark may be reconsidered by the examining committee when a student objects to the decision. In cases where this remains unresolved, the student can make formal complaints to the University Graduate School in writing.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successfully passing the qualifying assessment AND acquiring the full credits from relevant courses (excluding seminars). When conducting his/her project research, the student is required to report his/her progress to the advisor or the advising committee at least once every 4 weeks.

Doctoral Dissertation

This program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to the knowledge in the field of study.

The completed dissertation will be reviewed by a panel of three anonymous external reviewers. The returned marks will be “excellent”, “pass”, or “fail”. For the student to request to give his/her viva, the returned marks must be “Pass” or higher. In cases where a dissertation is submitted to the school prior to the normative time-to-degree, the returned marks must be Pass or higher, with at least one being “excellent”.

Requirements on Publications for Fulfillment of a Doctoral Degree

The student is required to publish his/her work in SCI-indexed journals, listed below. Before submission of his/her dissertation, the student must have published

l 1 paper in the journals in List I


l 2 papers, with at least 1 published in the journals in List II.

In exceptional circumstances, a student can request to submit his/her dissertation prior to the normative time-to-degree. However, this can be done no earlier than 3 years from the student’s enrollment in the doctoral program. In addition, before submitting his/her dissertation, the students is required to have published

l 2 papers with 1 in the journals in List I and the other in the journals in List II or III.


l 3 papers in the journals in List II or III, with at least 2 papers published in the journals in List II.

Journal List I:

The Nature series (including Nature Communications), Science, Physical Review Letters (PRL), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Journal of Geodesy, and other journals at a comparable level recognized by the academic committee of the school.

Journal List II:

Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (ApJS), Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL), Astronomy & Astrophysics (A&A), Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), Astronomical Journal(AJ), Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (PASP), Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR), Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), Solar Physics, Geology, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL), GeoChimica et Cosmochimica Acta (GCA), Icarus, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), American Mineralogist (AM), GPS Solutions, Survey Review, Journal of Navigation, Advances in Space Research (AdSR, for the subfield of Satellite Navigation ONLY), Sensors, Marine Geodesy, Remote Sensing, IEEE TGRS, IEEE JSTARS, IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, and other journals at a comparable level recognized by the academic committee.

Journal List III:

Annales Geophysicae (AG), Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics(RAA), Astrophysics and Space Science (ApSS), Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia (PASA), Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (PASJ), New Astronomy(NewA), Advances in Space Research(AdSR, for subfields other than navigation), Planetary and Space Science (PSS), Earth, Moon, and Planets (EMP), Journal of Earth Science (JES), Science China, Chinese Science Bulletin, Acta Geodaetica et Cartographica Sinica, Journal of Remote Sensing, Geomatics and Information Science of Wuhan University, Chinese Journal of Geophysics, Acta Petrologica Sinica, and other journals recognized by the academic committee.

The student must be the first-author, and must specify their first affiliation as Shandong University. The papers are required to be an inherent part of the student’s dissertation. The papers are considered “published” only when they appear in printor online.

Viva (Oral Defense of Dissertation)

This is required for all students in the program. A viva may be held only after the student has fulfilled the requirements on the dissertation and publications. The viva will be examined by a committee of five reviewers, among which at least two examiners have to be external. The student’s advisor(s) must not sit in the examining committee. A doctoral degree may be awarded only after the student passes this examination.

Doctoral Degree Conferment

A doctoral diploma can be conferred only upon completion of the required coursework, seminars, and successful defense of doctoral dissertation. A certificate of the doctoral degree can be issued only upon approval by the committee for the conferment of academic degrees of Shandong University.

Courses in the Program

A student is required to choose from the fundamental and elective courses (listed below) a selection carrying no less than 8 credits.


Fundamental Courses: These courses lay the foundation for students to build their basic understanding of the field.

Elective Courses: These courses are at a level slightly more advanced than fundamental courses.

Complementary Courses: These are undergraduate and masters’ courses that the advisor considers necessary for the student. Please note that these courses do not carry any credit.

Term 1 (Sept.-Jan.)

Term 2 (Mar. – June)

Year 1

0900468 Radiation Mechanisms in Astrophysics II (2credits, 32 hours)

0900464 Selected Topics on Celestial Mechanics (2, 32)

0900465 Selected Topics on Satellite Navigation (2, 32)

Planetary Mineralogy (2,40)

Planetary Geology (2,40)

0900449 Physics of the solar atmosphere and heliosphere I (2,16+32)

0900451 Physics of the magnetosphere, ionosphere and space weather I (2,16+32)

0900472 Observational Astrophysics (2,32)

0900650 Stellar Physics II (2,32)

0900461 Selected Topics on Informatization of Space Technology (2,32)

Planetary Data Processing and Analysis (2,40)

Analytical Methods for Planetary Samples (2,40)

0900487 Introduction to Astronomy (0,48)

0900485 Space Observations and Instrumentation (0,48)

0900501 Introduction to Astrophysics (0,48)

0900518 Planetary Spectroscopy and Remote Sensing (0,48)

0900651 Active Galactic Nuclei II (2,32)

0900473 Astronomical Spectroscopy (2, 32)

0900462 Selected Topics on Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (2,32)

0900463 Selected Topics on Data Processing (2,32)

0900450 Physics of the solar atmosphere and heliosphere II (2,16+32)

0900452 Physics of the magnetosphere, ionosphere and space weather II (2,16+32)

0900658 Fluid Mechanics (0,48)

0900487 Introduction to Space Physics (0,64)

0900488 Introductory Plasma Physics (0,48)

Introductory Planetary Science (0,48)

Geodesy (0,40)

The fundamental of satellite navigation(0,56)

APPENDIX: Introduction to the discipline of Plasma Physics in Shandong University Weihai

The plasma physics branch in Shandong University, one of the top universities in China, was established only very recently in 2007. The past 9 years have seen rapid development of this discipline, which resulted in a young and active team with 32 members of teaching faculty, 12 members of engineering and supporting staff, and 12 post-doctoral scientists (6 from overseas).This discipline tops the list of the three disciplines prioritized by the Weihai campus. In 2015, it was selected, on an extremely competitive basis, to become one of the 13 disciplines that will receive prioritized support from Shandong University.

We focus on fundamental physical processes as well as space exploration in key regions encompassing the Sun out to the Earth’s ionosphere. Equally important is our aim to develop some focused research on satellite navigation and planetary sciences. Wherever possible, we adopt a synergistic approach by combining data analysis with theoretical and numerical computations. As a result, we publish about 30 papers every year in such important journals as Nature Communications, Physical Review X, Astrophysical Journal, and Journal of Geophysical Research. The outcome of our research has been highlighted in multiple science nuggets of relevant space instruments, and has been in spotlight covered by international media. Four of our team members have been involved in international teams, selected and financially supported by the International Space Science Institute on a competitive basis.

Our team members have been awarded more than 30 research grants from national funding agencies, totaling 30 million CNY.

We have been actively involved in multiple space missions and made our efforts to meet both the societal needs and national strategy. We were the main player in studies on science payload on and engineering implementation of China’s Kuafu mission. We have been in science definition teams or working teams of such missions as the China-ESA SMILE mission, China’s Meridian Project, Yinghuo-1, Chang’E, and Mars exploration missions. In the field of satellite navigation, we have been actively collaborating with the industrial sector, establishing a joint laboratory to develop mini-satellites for remote sensing and navigation.

We have been very active in national and international exchanges as well. Our team members sit on the board or in the technical committees of multiple international and national learned societies. We have organized 6 international conferences/workshops in Weihai. In particular, we organized the 14th International Solar Wind Conference, arguably the most important conference in the field. We have convened 6 sessions and given nearly 20 invited talks in international conferences. We have recruited 6 international post-doctoral scientists, and 2 international exchange students. On the average we have more than 10 international visitors every year.