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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, explore our academics' research areas

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

The extra support we offer

Paul Cairns, Research Student Training Officer  "Researchers have always needed not only excellent research skills but also a host of other skills. These include organising, planning and most importantly, a range of strong communication skills including writing, networking and presenting so that the rest of the world can find out about their research and benefit from it. Moreover, these skills are useful beyond a research degree and, in my role, I support our PhD students to develop them as a solid foundation for their future careers."‌



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 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 (DTA, DRSA 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 where necessary.

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.


Funding for PhDs

To see the full list of funded PhD projects currently being offered by the Department of Computer Science please visit our funding page - PhD Scholarship Opportunities

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.

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

Before applying, please review our practical advice on preparing a research proposal.

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 now

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.









Any questions?

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

Looking for a potential supervisor for your PhD?

Explore our academics' research areas