Research course

Computer Science

University of Surrey · Department of Computing

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Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

English language requirements:

IELTS Academic, 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

Months of entry

January, April, July, October

Course content

Our PhD research programme provides you with the opportunity to study a wide range of computer science topics. These include technologies and systems for securing online businesses and our lives, technologies inspired by nature for solving complicated real-world problems in areas such as transport and health, and real-world applications of advanced technologies in cyber security and machine learning. Our expert supervisors, highly rated research activities and excellent facilities mean you’ll be a specialist in your field by the time you complete your PhD.

Surrey Centre for Cyber Security (SCCS), led by the Department of Computer Science, is one of only 19 Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research recognised by the UK government. It is particularly strong in interdisciplinary research with other departments, with links to Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Business, Sociology and Law. We also have strong ties with global research institutes, such as the University of Oxford, Microsoft Research Cambridge, KU Leuven (Belgium), McMaster University (Canada) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) for joint PhD projects.

Many PhD projects are collaborative with industrial partners. With EIT Digital, we have established a Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Connected Technologies focusing on applied research in cyber security, artificial intelligence and communications.

We strive to excel in our research, with many members of staff publicly recognised as experts in their respective fields.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, 60 per cent of our research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and our research profile has been consistently ranked in the world top 150 and top 10 in the UK, according to academic subject rankings of SJTU Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in Computer Science.

Our PhD in Computer Science will give you the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for a career in academia, research and development work in industry, and for a wide variety of professional opportunities elsewhere.

It normally takes around three to four years to complete a full-time PhD. You’ll be assigned at least two supervisors, a principal and a secondary, who’ll guide you through your studies. You’ll learn how to conduct literature reviews, how to develop your research ideas and verify them with experiments, and how to collaborate and perform interdisciplinary research.

Exactly what your studies will look like will depend on your choice of topic: most of our PhD students conduct their research on computers in the Department, but some need access to special hardware in a lab setting. We’ll make sure you’ve got everything you need to conduct your research during your PhD.

We offer a diverse programme of activities within our Department, including monthly tea parties between PhD students and staff, elevator pitch sessions every other month, and bespoke workshops and social events.

Research themes:

Secure systems

  • Hardware security
  • Trusted computing
  • Privacy-enhancing technologies
  • User authentication
  • Secure communications
  • Network and mobile security and privacy
  • Applied cryptography
  • Security protocols
  • Formal verification
  • IoT security and privacy
  • Security visualisation
  • Intrusion detection
  • Digital forensics
  • Human factors
  • Data loss prevention
  • Concurrent and distributed systems
  • Cloud, Edge and Fog resilience and security
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles and transport systems
  • Social networks and online harms
  • Cyber crime
  • Game theory for security

Nature-inspired computing and engineering

  • Computational intelligence
  • Evolutionary optimisation
  • Machine learning, including deep learning
  • Computer Vision/Pattern Recognition
  • Reinforcement Learning (rule-based, deep)
  • Control theory
  • Prediction and learning in complex networks
  • Data mining
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Knowledge extraction
  • Signal processing
  • Bayesian inference
  • Medical image processing
  • Robotics
  • Systems biology
  • Morphogenetic engineering
  • Neural information processing
  • Developmental and cognitive neuroscience
  • Time series analysis

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    96 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details