School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

Research Degrees

Female student working with computers

A creative powerhouse

Our School has a large and thriving graduate research community. We provide an active and stimulating environment in our research groups to carry out your doctoral research under the supervision of one of our experienced academic staff.

We have an extensive range of specialist labs and facilities. We offer full-time and part-time routes to a research degree, and research programmes last 1, 2 or 3 years (MSc/MPhil/PhD).

As well as research skills, as an Essex research graduate you will acquire both technical knowledge and transferable skills in communication, time management and project management, and analytical and numerical skills. You will have the opportunity to present your work to peers within your research group, and at international conferences.

Our School actively seeks out talent around the world, and helps its students to develop into international researchers by providing Faculty and School scholarships.

Explore our postgraduate research degrees

Research degrees

At Essex we offer several research degree types, from a one year Master of Science by Dissertation (MSD) through to a full PhD.

An MSD is a one year postgraduate research degree. It is an ideal option for those who want to improve their research skills but may not want to commit to a PhD. If your MSD is progressing well then you can potentially "upgrade" it to a PhD, in agreement with your supervisor and the department.

In comparison a PhD can take between three and six years to complete, depending if you are carrying out your research on a full time or part time basis. PhD students are enrolled on an MPhil pathway, progressing to a PhD in their second year. If you find that a PhD is unsuitable then you can continue your research but finish in your second year, leaving with an MPhil qualification.

Whatever path you choose you will finish your degree by writing a thesis on your chosen research area. You will then discuss your work and conclusions at a viva, an oral exam involving three academics (including an external academic from another university, with expertise in your field).

Research topics and supervision

We offer postgraduate research courses spanning computer science, computation (including finance), and engineering disciplines.

You will find a range of research areas in our School, from practical engineering through to theoretical foundations, and from established subjects to newly emerging technology, applications and fundamentals.

You do not have to choose a supervisor before you apply. If you indicate your research topic or area of interest on your application form then we can match you with a suitable project supervisor. However, please do feel free to browse our staff profiles and their research interests and email individuals to discuss your proposal.

You can also contact us and our Graduate Administrator can put you in touch with potential supervisors as well as help with your application, visa and general enquiries.

Postgraduate research studentships

Throughout the year our department may advertise postgraduate research studentship and scholarship opportunities for both MSD and PhD researchers. Studentships often come with a pre-agreed title and supervisor, while scholarships can be applied for once your application has been approved.


All Essex research students have access to our professional development fund Proficio. This gives our postgraduate research students access to between £1000 (MSD) and £2500 (PhD) of funding for professional development training and conference attendance.

Student and academic working at a board together
Postgraduate research opportunities

Thinking about postgraduate research at Essex? We advertise studentships and funded opportunities throughout the year.

View our latest opportunities
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