James Williams

PhD in Computer Science
Software engineering for large-scale complex IT systems

Why did you choose to study for your PhD at York?

I did my undergraduate degree here at York (MEng in Computer Systems and Software Engineering) and during that time found that I really enjoyed the friendly, down to earth atmosphere, and the quality of the lecturers. Plus, I really loved living in York. My MEng dissertation really got me interested in research, and given the quality of researchers at York, I knew it would be a great place to continue my studies.

What particular aspects about the University do you like?

I like the freedom granted to me to pursue ideas and interests. The work environment is fantastic; colleagues and supervisors are also friends, and if you need it, support can be found wherever you look.

What has your experience been like as a PhD student in Computer Science at York?

As a PhD student, a number of opportunities are open to me, both academically and socially. I have helped to organise two editions of the York Doctoral Symposium – a venue for research students to get friendly feedback and advice on their work from other research students. I have also been fortunate enough to attend a number of international conferences and showcase my work to the community. Furthermore, research students can take part in the staff versus students annual football and cricket matches (on the staff team), and the department often hosts social events, such as pub quizzes and Christmas parties.

I am part of the Enterprise Systems research group, and I organise weekly seminars for the group where members have a chance to present research, practice talks for conferences, discuss interesting ideas, or work on solving challenging problems as a group. I commonly attend other research groups’ talks as well, to hear about my friends’ and colleagues research. Throughout my time here, I have got to know most of the academic staff and feel comfortable talking to them about absolutely anything.

The administrative and support staff in the department are second to none, providing any help and assistance that you may require.

I am based in the Ron Cooke Hub on the new Heslington East campus, the building right next to Computer Science. The facilities here are second to none, whilst the campus still offers the same beautiful wildlife and scenery found on the Heslington West campus. I’m really pleased about the opening of the new Sports Village, where I shall hopefully spend my lunchtimes swimming.

The city of York is an amazing place, and always offers something new and interesting to do. Excluding all of the historic places to visit, there are lots of great markets to be explored, parks to be played in, rivers to sail on, and plenty of great pubs to quench your thirst in. York has an active live music and comedy scene, a football team on the up, and a racing course where you’ll be sure to have a great day out. York is located near to lots of great places, too. Seaside towns of Scarborough, Bridlington and Whitby are short drives away. The Yorkshire Moors, Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Wolds are close by for great walks over beautiful landscapes. Plus, if you’re looking for a different city to spend the evening in, Newcastle and Leeds are short train rides away with return trains running late into the night.

Would you recommend York and the Department of Computer Science?

I would certainly recommend the University of York to any prospective PhD students. It offers a unique blend of quality, friendliness and fun that will be sure to help you develop into a world-class researcher.

Picture of James Williams, PhD student in Computer Science

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