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 (October 2016 is the earliest start date for this option).
  • 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.

Take a look at some of the project areas where our academics are looking for PhD students.

You can also see our Departmental staff list and research interests (PDF  , 168kb)

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.

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

The Department offers competitive funding opportunities for overseas students (DORS), for EU students who are not eligible for UK research council funding (DERS), and for students who are eligible for UK research council Doctoral Training Grant funding (DTG).

To be considered for competitive funding, you should apply no later than 15 January of the (calendar) year in which you wish to start: applications will be considered from October of the previous year.

You must submit:

  • a full PhD application, via the University of York application system
    • your application must name one or more proposed supervisors
    • you must include full transcripts
    • all references must be received before you are interviewed
  • a research proposal which has, ideally, been discussed with and worked on with your proposed supervisor(s)

Your application must state that you wish to be considered for competitive funding.    

You will not be considered in the competitive funding round if your application is incomplete on the closing date for submission.

You will be interviewed, and your interviewers will seek evidence that you have strong research potential and that your interests are aligned with those of the department.

Competitive funding offers for October 2016 entry will be notified on 23 February 2016.

It is sometimes the case that further funding becomes available after February; in this case, awards will be offered to candidates who were ranked but not funded in the competitive funding round.

Studentships available annually

Department Overseas Research Students Award

These awards are for new overseas PhD students and cover the difference between UK/EU and overseas tuition fees for the three-year PhD programme. Two of these studentships are available and will be awarded on a competitive basis. Please refer to our University fees page.

Department European Research Students Award

These awards are for new PhD students from within the EU, and cover the fees for the three-year PhD programme. One of these studentships is available and will be awarded on a competitive basis. Please refer to our University fees page.

Departmental UK/EU PhD Studentships (DTG) 

These awards are for new PhD students from within the UK or EU (according to conditions set annually by EPSRC) and provide a fee waiver at the Home/EU rate for three years, and a stipend designed to cover living expenses. Please refer to the EPSRC webpage for more information on eligibility. 

Computer Science continuation scholarship for York PhD applicants

If you study for a taught MSc in the Department you may be eligible for the continuation studentship. If you are an MSc student here and are holding an offer for a PhD, you will automatically be considered for this award 

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

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

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. Information about our academic staff and their research topics can be found in the Departmental staff list and research interests (PDF  , 168kb) 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).

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?

Contact our Postgraduate Admissions Administrator on:


Still of Ana Cavalcanti from Research Studies video

Watch a video of Dr Ana Cavalcanti talking about research at York

Studying for a research degree at York

See presentations from a recent event about studying for a PhD in each of the research groups at York

Find out what life is like at York

Check out what it's like to live and study in York.