Studying for a PhD at York


Course Overview

  • The PhD course is available full-time over three years, or part-time over a maximum of six years. Suitable candidates can also apply for a PhD in Computer Science by distance learning.
  • You will complete a period of research which includes the submission of a thesis (generally between 70,000 and 100,000 words), and its subsequent oral examination, together with a series of Departmental reports and seminars. 

Whether your interest is in how users interact with technology, or you want to work with world-leading researchers in quantum computing or artificial immune systems, our Department is the place for you to gain a degree in research.When you take a degree by research in Computer Science, you will work closely with one of our internationally respected research groups. You define an area of study, and work with one of our world leading academics as your supervior. A second member of staff - an assessor - provides further support. You become a member of one of our established research groups, and you will benefit from the accumulated knowledge and resources of your colleagues.

You become part of the Department, including having access to our excellent facilities and having your own desk and fully networked computer. You are encouraged to work in collaboration with others, and to present your ideas at some of the many informal research seminars held regularly in the Department.

To find potential supervisors consult our list of research topics  

For funded studentships and PhD proposals for self-funding applicants consult our PhD Opportunities page

The extra support we offer


Mike Dodds, Research Student Training Officer  "A research degree at York is not simply training in technical research; it's also training in general skill for your future life. It's my role to handle the non-research aspects of our PhD programme. I organise courses and informal advice on research methods, networking, time management, career planning and other skills essential to a successful PhD and career."



The PhD degree involves annual progression meetings and other formal requirements including written work, seminars and other oral deliverables.

A PhD degree could also be studied part-time over six years.

Please note that the statements on this page are for guidance only and do not fully accurately reflect the University's and the Department's examination rules.

Part-time PhD

The normal period of registration for part-time PhD students is six years. 

PhD by distance learning

The PhD by distance learning is a new variant of the standard York Computer Science PhD programme which is managed solely through the Department of Computer Science and awarded by University of York.

Available as a full-time (3 years) or part-time (6 years) programme.

Fees, supervision and assessment arrangements, and milestones are identical to the department-based programme.

  • Supervision requires regular electronic contact (by skype, hangouts, phone, etc.).
  • Supervision collaboration with an institution in the student’s home country is permitted, but note that this is NOT a joint programme.
  • Students are NOT eligible for Departmental funding (DTG, DERS, DORS or continuation scholarships).

Attendance requirements

Students are expected to visit York at their own expense, as follows:

  • Two weeks at the start of their enrolment (typically Sept-Oct), for induction, to meet their supervisor, to be introduced to the local research group, and to meet other PhD students.
  • Two one-week visits per annum (Full Time Equivalent, FTE), ideally to accommodate the 6-monthly milestone and TAP meetings.
  • The PhD viva must be attended in person.

Candidates need to provide a clear plan for visits, that takes account of milestone timings and any distance-learning related immigration issues anticipated (eg provisions of current visa regulations).

Students are encouraged to spend time at York, for instance to engage in research group activities and training courses, or take part in the York Doctoral Symposium.

A case to study by distance learning must be included with any application to this programme: it must be clear why York-based study is not possible. Transfer to and from the York-based programme may be permitted, where the conditions of the relevant programme are met.


Department Funding for PhDs

To see the full list of PhD Scholarship opportunities currently being offered by the Department of Computer Science please visit our funding page and download the detailed information sheets available. 

PhD Scholarship Opportunities (includes PhD projects for self-funding applicants)


IGGI Studentships

The EPSRC IGGI PhD programme awards are for new PhD students whose proposed research pushes back the boundaries of computer game design and creation or explores the use of games for cultural and social benefit.  Although EPSRC eligibility criteria apply, there is also limited funding for exceptional non-EU students.  The studentships covers a stipend and fees for the four-year PhD programme. At least three studentships are available and are awarded annually on a competitive basis. Please refer to the IGGI website for more information.

The University also has a number of scholarships available - you may be eligible to apply for these.

If you are eligible for any of the studentships advertised, you can apply onlineFurther details on how to apply.

How to Apply

Suitability and Entry Requirements

The PhD in Computer Science is intended for students who already have a good first degree in Computer Science or a related field. Typically, you will have achieved a good Master's degree or at least an upper second class honours degree (or international equivalent).

We are willing to consider your application if you do not fit this profile, but you must satisfy us that your knowledge in Computer Science is appropriate for advanced study. 

How to Apply

For more information about completing your application, please take a look at the University’s webpages which tell you how to apply, and our Department's advice on completing applications.

Before making a formal application you should identify and contact a potential supervisor. To find potential supervisors consult our list of research topics

Additional information about our academic staff (including contact details) can be found on our staff pages or you can find out more about our research groups as a whole on our research groups web page.

In particular, please take note of the supporting documents we need to see in order to be able to make a decision about your application.  You are also required to nominate two referees, of which at least one should be from your current employer or place of study.

You can apply through our online application system (SELECT).

Apply online now button

While there is no official closing date for applications, it is important to apply as early as possible.

International Students

This course, like all others in the University, welcomes students of all backgrounds and circumstances. 

If English is not your first language, or your first degree was not taught in English, then you will need to have attained a suitable language qualification no more than two years before the start of the course. 

The University's Postgraduate Study webpages will tell you more about the English language requirements for graduate students.

Our students

Our students

Research activity in the Department centres on our major research groups.  Our PhD students are undertaking a wide range of exciting projects within these research groups.  Details of some of the current PhD projects are given below. Find out more about our current students and their research interests by clicking their name.

Sultan Alahmari

PhD current working title of project: Building a framework and intelligent model of argumentation system through reinforcement learning. 

Faisal Alhwikem

PhD current working title of project: Integrating mutation analysis and model-driven engineering.

Anil Bas

PhD current working title of project: Model-based face analysis under challenging conditions.

Matthew Bedder

PhD current working title of project: Hierarchical Monte Carlo Tree Search.

Hadi Affendy Dahlan

PhD current working title of project: Light scattering and skin surface analysis for different aging face using modified layered dielectric light scattering model.

Thomas Cope

PhD current working title of project: Device independent QKD and quantum random generators.

Xiaotian Dai

PhD current working title of project: Adaptive and feedback scheduling in real-time systems.

Alena Denisova

PhD current working title of project: Deceptive expectations in digital games: the influence of players's knowledge about games on immersion. 

Simos Gerasimou

PhD current working title of project: Runtime quantitative verification of self-adaptive systems.

Chengliang Hu

PhD current working title of project: Shape analysis for magnetic resonance (MR) neuroimages.

Amelia Jupit

PhD current working title of project: Identity formation of players through meaningful choices in digital games.

Wai Kiat Chris Leong

PhD current working title of project: Assuring safety of a system in a complex environment.

Sha Li

PhD current working title of project: Games and interactive television.

Riccardo Laurenza

PhD current working title of project: Quantum key distribution with continuous variables: From point-to-point protocols to network implementation.

Frederico Limberger

PhD current working title of project: Spectral shape signatures and statistical encoding schemes.

Roshantha Mendis

PhD current working title of project: Dynamic management of on-chip multiprocessing platforms for multi-stream video processing.

Nadhratunnaim Nasarudin

PhD current working title of project: to be determined.  Research area: web system engineering, with HCI elements.

Panagiotis Papanastasiou

PhD current working title of project: Quantum cryptography with continuous variables.

Colin Paterson

PhD current working title of project: Continual analysis of operational process dependability applied to a type-45 ops room.

Jo Pugh

PhD current working title of project: Information journeys in archival collections.

Adolfo Sánchez-Barbudo Herrera

PhD current working title of project: Auto-tooling for complex textual languages. 

James Stovold

PhD current working title of project: Swarm agency and cognitive decision-making in robotic collectives.

Bharath Sudev

PhD current working title of project: Improving packet predictability of scalable network-on-chip designs without priority pre-emptive arbitration.

Hanting Xie

PhD current working title of project: Game data mining and skill acquisition through games.

Jianjia Wang

PhD current working title of project: Statistical mechanics in complex networks.

Matt Windsor

PhD current working title of project: Logics and tools for safe fine-grained concurreny.

Thanos Zolotas

PhD current working title of project: Type Inference in Flexible Model-Driven Engineering (EngD).

Chao Zhang

PhD current working title of project: Shape modelling and shape matching.

Xueyi Zou

PhD current working title of project: Automating validation test of sense and avoid algorithms with evolutionary search.




Our staff

Our staff

We asked some of our academic staff, about their involvement with PhDs. See what they said they got up to:

Dr Dan Franks, Reader in Computer Science

Dr Dan Franks

I am an interdisciplinary scientist working in the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis.  My research on orca (killer whales) has allowed us to discover a lot about the survival of these amazing protected animals.

Many of my students have worked on modelling biological systems. One student, for example, developed models that allowed us to understand how ants form networks of nests for distributing resources. PhD students are often full of enthusiasm and a joy to work with. I particularly like to see how they develop over the course of a PhD and go on to do great things! Working with a team of bright interdisciplinary PhD students is challenging and rewarding.

All of my PhD students have gone on to great things. One went on to work at Harvard University, one is a Marine Biologist, and one a programmer, for example.

Dr Radu Calinescu, Senior Lecturer in Large-Scale Complex IT Systems

My research focuses on the development of theory and software tools for the engineering of dependable self-adaptive systems. Together with my students and researchers, I am developing new approaches to using formal modelling and analysis in runtime scenarios, to support the compositional and incremental re-verification of critical systems, and to drive their dynamic reconfiguration in response to failures, variations in workload, and changes in requirements.

Pursuing a successful PhD project in this area requires strong motivation, a solid mathematical background, a keen interest in programming, and excellent writing, communication and presentation skills. Supervising the work of PhD students as they develop the confidence to undertake a growing number of research and teaching tasks, and ultimately become independent researchers, is always a great pleasure.

A Computer Science PhD is an increasingly essential requirement for most senior positions in a wide range of technical organisations.

Want to find out more about our research groups?

Check out the presentations from our recent 'Doing a Doctorate' event.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, or you would like to arrange a visit to the department, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Administrator on:

Looking for a potential supervisor for your PhD?

Consult our list of research topics