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Postgraduate Study


In their first year, research students will be expected to complete a series of 12 core and optional units from the Research Skills Programme. The units are ungraded and the number of contact hours varies. Attendance is recorded and a complete log is requested at the same time as the first-year report and thesis proposal. Research students in their second and subsequent years will be expected to complete a further eight optional units per annum from the Research Skills Programme. 

At the discretion of the supervisor and to provide additional technical background for the PhD research, students may also be allowed to audit one or more modules taken from the MPhil in Advanced Computer Science course. 

One to one supervision

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Computer Science and Technology appoints a supervisor and postgraduate adviser for each research student. In some cases, a second or co-supervisor may also be appointed.

Research students will have daily contact with the research group within which they are placed. In addition, they should expect a formal meeting with their supervisors at least once a month in term time.

Seminars & classes

Research students are expected to attend research group seminars and discussion groups as well as regular Wednesday seminar series. With the permission of their supervisor, students may also attend classes offered by the MPhil in Advanced Computer Science, Part II and Part III of the Computer Science Tripos.


Mandatory Research Skills Programme: in addition to the core units, all research students must select a further eight units from the selection of one- and two-hour topics throughout all years of their studies, or from classes offered by the Researcher Development Programme. Other courses are also available including foreign languages, small-group teaching (supervising undergraduates), and lecturing. The length of these courses will vary.

Small group teaching

The Department of Computer Science and Technology expects CPGS and PhD students in the department to contribute to teaching in the department. This may include small group teaching (known as undergraduate supervisions), practical demonstrations, and undergraduate project supervision up to a maximum of 6 hours per week in term time. CPGS and PhD students will receive training and will be reimbursed for their time. 

Posters and Presentations

All research students will have the opportunity to present their research regularly throughout their studies in seminars, first-year and second-year mini-conferences, summer schools, and research conferences both in the UK and abroad. Students may apply for some funding to attend conferences and workshops.


Regular feedback on progress is provided by supervisors once per term via the postgraduate supervision report system. 


Thesis / Dissertation

The PhD is assessed through the examination of a thesis, including an oral ("viva voce") examination. The thesis must not exceed 60,000 words including footnotes, tables and equations, but excluding appendices, bibliography, photographs and diagrams.


All candidates for the PhD Degree are admitted on a probationary basis. In the Department of Computer Science and Technology, probationary students are registered, in the first instance, for the Certificate of Postgraduate Study. At the end of the first academic year, a formal assessment of progress is made. This takes the form of a single document of no more than 10,000 words in length, exclusive of tables, bibliography and appendices.

The document is principally an extended PhD proposal. That is, a document that demonstrates a clear path from the candidate's current position to a complete PhD thesis at the end of the third year. The document has two purposes: (i) to help the candidate to reflect on and plan their research project and (ii) to allow the Department to assess the student's progress and planned research.

The student will be invited to discuss the document during a formal oral examination with two assessors appointed by the student's principal supervisor. Neither of the assessors should be the student's principal supervisor though one may be the student's postgraduate adviser. Occasionally, the principal supervisor may be invited to clarify elements of the PhD proposal and to attend the viva as an observer.

Where the initial PhD proposal document is unsatisfactory, the assessors may ask for a revised submission and arrange a further discussion. Where the PhD proposal is acceptable, it may still help the student to record suggested modifications in a final version of the proposal. A copy of the revised document must be submitted to the Secretary of the Degree Committee. Students who successfully pass the first-year review will be registered retrospectively for the PhD Degree. Those who do not pass the review after submitting a revised proposal may be offered the Certificate of Postgraduate Study but they will not be allowed to progress to the PhD Degree.

Students who are registered for the PhD Degree are also required to submit a second-year report at the end of their second academic year. This will be assessed by two independent assessors who are usually, but not always, those members of staff who assessed the first-year report. In the third year, the Degree Committee requires students to submit a progress statement which is reviewed by the Director of Postgraduate Education.

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Computer Science and Technology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2023
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Oct. 2, 2024
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2025

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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