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PhD in Computer Science

Join a vibrant and internationally-respected research community working at the cutting edge of computer science.


3 years full-time or 6 years part-time

Study on campus or by distance learning

A research degree gives you the opportunity to complete a piece of original research with expert guidance from world academics.

Contact us

Postgraduate Research Admissions Team

Department of Computer Science

Study for your doctorate in a dynamic and challenging department, where academic rigour and excellence is at the heart of everything we do. You will have the opportunity to work with leading academics and be part of a growing community of doctoral scholars. 

We welcome applicants who share our vision and want to undertake innovative and exciting research as part of our academic community. Join researchers from across the globe, who are pushing the boundaries of their fields within the discipline of computer science.

You can define a specific area of study which aligns with your research interests. Alternatively, you can apply for one of our PhD opportunities: some are funded studentships, while others are proposals for self-funded applicants. Either way, you'll work closely with your supervisor and the wider Department to achieve your research goals.

Your research

As a doctoral student, the focus of your work will be an independent research project. We provide training which will equip you with skills in a wide range of research methods to support your growing expertise.

During your PhD degree, your academic progress will be assessed through a range of methods including formal and informal meetings, written work, seminars and presentations.

Your research will culminate in a thesis of around 80,000-100,000 words and an oral examination where you are questioned about your thesis (your 'viva'). To successfully pass the course, your thesis should represent an original contribution to scientific knowledge or understanding, and have the potential to influence practice, policy and understanding in your field of interest.


Female research student in the robot lab operating small robots with brightly coloured lights.

Supervisors play a fundamental role in supporting you throughout your programme. Your supervisor or supervisory team is responsible for helping you to manage your research, overseeing your personal welfare, and giving you expert guidance throughout your studies.

You will have at least one meeting with your supervisory team every six to seven weeks. At these meetings, your supervisor(s) will give you detailed feedback on the work you present and will help you make plans for your next steps.

You will also interact with your supervisors and colleagues across the Department at research seminars, conference events and informal gatherings.

Find a potential supervisor

See how your interests align with our research. Find out more about our Research Groups and identify a potential supervisor.

Find a supervisor


Being a research student isn't just about producing a piece of academic work. You will also benefit from a balanced programme of training which will enhance your career prospects. 

The Department of Computer Science and your supervisor will help you obtain the skills that are specific to your subject or research area. In addition, there are mandatory courses in broader research-related skills that you must complete in your first year. Further training is provided by the University on a wide range of topics.

Taught modules

In your first year you will complete mandatory training courses which will help you refine your research ideas and begin your investigations:

  • Research Integrity (a compulsory module which you must pass in order to progress)
  • Becoming an Effective Researcher
  • Information Security Awareness

Department seminars

The Department offers you the opportunity to attend seminars presented by leading scientists and practitioners from around the world, giving you the chance to expand your knowledge and to meet others working in similar academic disciplines.  

We also encourage you to get involved in student-led seminars. Arranged by the research students themselves, these seminars offer a great training opportunity to learn from your fellow students and to present your work to your peers.

Researcher development

Throughout your course, you will have access to training and events provided by the University's Research Excellence Training Team, who will help you develop your professional skills and career profile. A range of training opportunities are available in the following areas:

  • Research Management and Leadership
  • Community and Wellbeing
  • Partnerships, Collaborations and Civic Engagement
  • Professional Development and Employability
  • Public Engagement and Communication

Course location

Department of Computer Science

You will be based in the Department of Computer Science on Campus East, either in our lakeside home in the Computer Science Building or in the Ron Cooke Hub which is located next door.

We will provide you with a laptop connected to the University network, and you will have 24/7 access to your desk and workspace. Distance learning students are allocated a work desk for the duration of their stay while they are in York.

We have modern, well-equipped research labs with a specialist in-department team to support your hardware and software requirements while you are studying for your PhD. 

PhD by distance learning

We offer the opportunity to study for a PhD by distance learning. This is available to students based in the UK and abroad, studying full-time or part-time. Our PhD by distance learning offers the same high quality of supervisory support (primarily online), and demands the same level of academic rigour as a campus-based PhD.

You will undertake your research and thesis production remotely, joining us on campus only occasionally. You will be expected to visit York at your own expense at the following stages of your study:

  • Two weeks at the start of enrolment for induction, to meet your supervisor and your research group, and to meet other PhD students;
  • Two one-week visits each year at important stages ('milestones') of your study (the number of visits is reduced accordingly if you are a part-time student);
  • You must attend your PhD viva in person.

Entry requirements

Undergraduate and Masters degrees

The PhD in Computer Science is intended for students who already have a good first degree in Computer Science or a related field.

For entry to the PhD programme, we require at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree, or a qualification equivalent to a UK Masters degree with a minimum average grade of 60%.

We are willing to consider your application if you do not fit this profile. However, you must satisfy us that your knowledge in Computer Science or a related field is appropriate for advanced study in your subject area of interest.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must provide evidence of your ability. We accept the following English language qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.0, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • PTE Academic: 55, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 169, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 79, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Pass in all components
  • Duolingo: 100, minimum 90 in all other components

Find out more about English Language requirements for research degrees

How to apply

Find a potential supervisor

You should find a potential supervisor in our Department whose area of research overlaps with yours. We encourage you to contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please identify the name of your potential supervisor in your application.

On our Research web pages, you can explore our research groups which reflect the core research strengths and expertise within the Department of Computer Science. On the web page for each research group, you'll find more information about the aims and objectives of the group and the names of group members. You can use this information to identify the groups where research interests match your own.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact

Submit your application

We require you to submit the following documents:

You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

After you have applied, you can track the status of your application and view any official correspondence online. If you have applied for an advertised scholarship, decisions on funded places may take a little longer.


If we are impressed by your full application, personal statement and references, we will invite you for an interview.

Due to restrictions because of Coronavirus (Covid-19), all interviews are currently being held online using Zoom, Google Meet or Skype. In the future, however, we hope to invite students based in the UK to the Department for their interview. For students based outside the UK, interviews will continue to be conducted online.

The interview panel will be made up of your potential supervisor(s) and another independent academic. During your interview, it is important that you demonstrate an understanding of your chosen topic and its supporting theories.

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