Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Computer Science

PhD Computer Science

Overview

The details
Computer Science
January 2020
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus

Our research activity and supervision for our standard three-year PhD Computer Science is concentrated in the following principal research areas: artificial intelligence, biologically inspired architectures, educational technology, e-learning, natural and evolutionary computation, natural language engineering, software agents and software engineering. Our cross-disciplinary projects draw on the expertise of our electronic engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and psychologists.

We are one of the largest and best resourced schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment. Our research covers a range of topics, from the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, computational intelligence and computer games, to artificial intelligence and robotics, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities. Our impressive external research funding stands at multi-million pounds per year and we participate in a number of EU initiatives and undertake projects under contract to many outside bodies, including government and industrial organisations.

Studying within our School provides both the recent graduate and the practising engineer with an opportunity to gain new skills or enhance existing ones. Our graduates have progressed to a variety of senior positions in industry and academia. Some of the companies and organisations where our former graduates are now employed include: Alcatel Submarine, BT Group, QinetiQ, Dolby Laboratories, Fujitsu, Royal Air Forces, and within our University and Imperial College, London.

We also offer an MPhil and a Masters by dissertation in this subject.

Please note, part-time research study is also available.

Why we're great.
  • Our research covers a range of topics, from materials science and semiconductor device physics, to the theory of computation and the philosophy of computer science, with most of our research groups based around laboratories offering world-class facilities.
  • We are one of the largest and best resourced schools in the UK. Our work is supported by extensive networked computer facilities and software aids, together with a wide range of test and instrumentation equipment.
  • We provide an active and stimulating environment to carry out your research.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Studying for your PhD involves person-to-person interaction with your supervisor, who will guide you in developing your chosen research topic, refine your research skills, and advise you in capitalising on the technical knowledge you already have from your taught degree. Supervisors often keep in touch with their PhD graduates throughout their careers, and may work on scientific collaborations with them after they finish their doctorate.

Our PhD graduates generally go on to pursue careers as academics or as researchers in industry.

Specialist facilities

Our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering provides twelve laboratories exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three of our software labs are open for 24 hours a day including weekends and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress. Our labs are managed by an experienced and dedicated team of technical support staff who can assist you with most practical aspects of the curriculum - for example, advising on how to overcome programming problems.

Our BCI Lab comprises 70m² within our School. It is divided in four experimental areas, one of them being shielded against EM interference, and is one of the best equipped facilities for non-invasive BCI research in Europe. Our equipment includes: five EEG systems (two Biosemi ActiveTwo systems, 64 and 128 channels, respectively; two 32-channel gTec systems, and a 24-channel Mindset system), a 24-channel near infra-red system, a 16-channel Nexus EMG system (plus 8-channels for other physiological signals), a Jazz eye tracker, a MagStim BitStim transcranial magnetic stimulation system, many Biometrics Ltd electrogoniometers and accelerometers, two Edubot robotic manipulators, three Lego NXT robots, three virtual reality systems, and four Bionics electrically-controlled medical chairs, aside from the necessary computer equipment to interface with the above devices. We also have a 182-processor Viglen/Rocks cluster dedicated to our research.

Our Brooker Robotics Lab (a PC environment with 30 dual boot PCs) is equipped with about 25 mobile robots (of three different types) and ten miniature 'intelligent' rooms, and is used for intelligent embedded systems and robotics work. A range of specialist software is used, most notably a cross-development system called Tornado (the latest version of VxWorks: the software used in the recent Pathfinder project for the Mars Explorer vehicle) for developing embedded systems.

Our Robot Arena is a 100m² laboratory with a six metre ceiling height for flying robots. It has one of the world largest powered lab floors for long duration experiments of mobile robots. Our Robot Arena features a range of dedicated robotic equipment including a state-of-the-art 3D motion tracking system.

Our Embedded Systems Laboratory provides software and hardware facilities for the design, construction and prototyping of a variety of embedded system solutions. The primary focus is to provide an environment where ARM based embedded systems can be prototyped and tested as part of a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Sixteen dedicated, dual screen, workstations are provided together with a range of state of the art test equipment to support the development process. In addition a number of soldering stations are provided to enable the construction of custom designed hardware. Such hardware will be designed by you as part of the courses you undertake.

Your future

Studying within our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering provides both the recent graduate and the practising engineer with the opportunity to gain new skills or enhance existing ones.

Our graduates have progressed to a variety of senior positions in industry and academia. Some of the companies and organisations where our former graduates are now employed include: Electronic Data Systems, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Bank of Mexico, Visa International, Hyperknowledge (Cambridge), Hellenic Air Force, ICSS (Beijing), United Microelectronic Corporation (Taiwan) and within our University.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a good honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.

You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component

Structure

Example structure

A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

Assessment

The aim of undertaking your PhD within our School is to become trained as an independent researcher who can critically assess other research work, and have a comprehensive knowledge of their subject area.

Our PhD programme is usually three to four years duration and all our students are initially registered as MPhil/PhD students, then transferred to the PhD in the first half of their second year of study if they have made satisfactory progress. In your second and third years, you work towards your PhD.

Dissertation

Within our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, your PhD thesis is generally completed within three to four years and has a length of around 80,000 words.

Your PhD is awarded after your successful defence of your thesis in an oral examination, in which you are interviewed about your research by two examiners, at least one of whom is from outside Essex.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£4,630

International fee

£14,720

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline and we aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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