phd computer science uk

Our work is regularly presented in international conferences and journals, indicating the high standards we achieve in research. At Birmingham, we work closely in small teams of researchers embedded within a broad and lively research culture. This combination means you get the necessary focus, while keeping an eye on the bigger picture in which your work is placed.

The School’s staff and research students are loosely organised into informal research themes. Researchers are free to contribute to one or more themes and each theme organises its own activities. Cross-disciplinary research is a major feature of the school, and links exist with, for example, psychology, medicine, language studies and electronic engineering.

Supervision is arranged on an individual basis in order to closely match the interests of the student with those of the supervisor. We can only offer supervision in the areas in which we have academic expertise. 

Most of our students are full-time, but a small number are part-time, usually working for UK companies. The supervision process usually takes the form of weekly meetings, (although the frequency will vary according to need), where ideas are exchanged, help is offered and written work is discussed.

I chose the University as there are some of the leading researchers in the field of Computer Science and specifically natural computation at Birmingham, which for me was the important deciding factor as it was my chosen field of study.Ayush Joshi, PhD Computer Science


Annual Tuition Fees 2020/21 academic year

  • £4,407 UK/EU students, full-time
  • £2,204 UK/EU students, part-time
  • £22,500 International students, full-time

Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD. You will be able to apply for funding for the 2018 to 2019 academic year in summer 2018.

Follow the video link below to find out more

Further information is available at the student finance zone.

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.

For further information about research scholarships in Computer Science visit

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for ‘home fee status’ for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

How To Apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Computer Science

Awards availablePhD, MSc by research
Programme lengthMScR: One year full-time; two years part-time
PhD: Three years full-time; six years part-time

Both programmes (part-time and full-time) then have one further year to write up.
Location of programmeClifton campus
Part-time study availableYes
Start dateNot fixed

Programme overview

As a city, Bristol is known for its concentration of high-technology industry. Computers, communications and microelectronics are well represented, alongside digital media, computer games and electronic commerce. The University’s Department of Computer Science has close relationships with many of these organisations via collaborative projects, staff secondments and visiting industrial staff.

The department is located in the Merchant Venturers Building alongside the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the Department of Engineering Mathematics. This brings together the research in computing, communications, electronics and photonics within the University.

Fees for 2020/21

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2020/21 are as follows:UK/EU: full-time£4,365UK/EU: part-time£2,183Overseas: full-time£23,200Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time£9,365

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2020/21

A number of funded studentships are available each year, supported by research council, industry, University or other funds. View the faculty website for a list of currently available funded projects or visit

Self-funded or sponsored students are also very welcome to apply.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in computer science or a related subject.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile E
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

The Department of Computer Science’s large programme of research is supported by industry, the European Union, UK government research establishments and public corporations. The academic research programme is organised into the following groups:

The Visual Information Laboratory undertakes innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, resulting in new technology in the areas of computer vision, image and video communications, content analysis and distributed sensor systems. Current research includes: images and video search and retrieval; video tracking; visual SLAM; medical and bio-imaging; machine vision; 3D and multi-view processing; colour science; and high dynamic-range imaging, vision and graphics.

Our Cryptography and Information Security group conducts research into cryptography, the underlying hard problems on which it is based, and the hardware and software needed to implement secure systems. The group has particular interest in techniques for proving the security of cryptographic systems, efficiently implementing these systems on small computing devices and verifying these implementations, including testing their security against physical attacks. We also have an interest in security auditing and computer forensics.

The Cyber Security Group’s research focuses on three interlinked strands: security of cyber-physical infrastructures, software security and human behaviour. It participates in several major initiatives, including leading projects as part of the Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security (RISCS) and the Research Institute in Trustworthy Interconnected Cyber-Physical Systems (RITICS), co-leading the security and safety stream within the UK Research Hub on Cyber Security of Internet of Things and leading the programme of work on developing a Cyber Security Body of Knowledge (CyBOK).

Members of the Intelligent Systems group explore general principles underlying learning and intelligence in artificial and natural systems. An important aspect is machine learning and data mining techniques for systems and software that improve with experience. We also work on the interface between computer science and the biological sciences, exploiting connections that not only help to make computers more intelligent but also deepen our understanding of aspects of human intelligence. We are working on computational methods for automating significant parts of the scientific method. Our research enables the development of sophisticated systems that allow us to manage and make full use of vast amounts of digital data.

The Robotics group leads the faculty’s theoretical and practical robotics research, some of which is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in Frenchay. Researchers are involved in projects studying human-robot interaction, collective robotics, aerial robotics, neuro-inspired control, haptics, control systems, rehabilitation robotics, soft robotics and biomedical systems.

The Bristol Interaction Group is a creative interdisciplinary research team interested in designing novel interactive computers and displays. We specialise in exciting research that couples the design of hardware devices with complex electronic, electrical and physical properties, alongside deployment and evaluation in everyday public settings. We like to call this style of research Human-Hardware Interaction (HHI).

Computational neuroscientists apply computational and mathematical approaches to the study of the brain and, in the other direction, seek to uncover insights into computation and mathematics by working with experimental neuroscientists in trying to understand how the brain works. We are interested in the algorithmic structure of the central nervous system and the neurobiological systems and mechanisms that support them.

The Theory and Algorithms Group studies various aspects of the theory and practice of algorithms. The goal of our research is both to provide scalable solutions to existing problems and to understand the limits of what is possible.

The quantity of data available in digital form continues to increase at an exponential rate. The need for faster and more accurate algorithms is now more important than ever before. We also want to understand where improvements are impossible by establishing provable lower bounds, both in terms of space and time.

The Trustworthy Systems Laboratory has been established to explore demonstrably trustworthy systems. Confidence in a system’s trustworthiness can be gained in many different ways, including by design, through transparency, and through rigorous verification and validation. This new lab will help to address the increasing global demand for design techniques and systems that are not only reliable but also secure and robust against failures.

The T-B PHASE Prosperity Partnership (Thales-Bristol Partnership in Hybrid Autonomous Systems Engineering) builds on the existing strategic agreement between Thales and the University of Bristol to establish and deliver a ground-breaking programme of research that will generate new design principles and processes for hybrid autonomous systems engineering. Research is carried out in the context of three live use case scenarios co-created by Thales and Bristol: hybrid low-level flight, hybrid rail systems, and hybrid search and rescue.


The Computer Science PhD can open doors to many different stimulating commercial or academic careers. Graduates have become part of new and existing world-class research groups, as well as joining highly rewarding careers in a variety of industries around the world.