Skip to main content

Research Degrees

By joining us as a research student you will become part of a vibrant, challenging and friendly community of researchers, undertaking studies which demonstrates both originality and significance.

As a Computer Science Research Postgraduate, you will also have the opportunity to become involved in some aspects of teaching, outreach and professional skills development within the Department.
Find out more
Someone studying a robotic face

Master of Science (MSc) / Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

We welcome applications from high quality candidates across all computer science areas. Our community of postgraduate students contributes to a range of exciting projects at the cutting-edge of current research sponsored by both the public sector, third-party and industrial scholarships. This draws on the department's strong research collaborations and industrial links with a range of both UK and international funding organisations.

We currently offer the following research degrees:

  • Master of Science (MSc) by research: One year full-time (or two years part-time)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Three+ years full-time (or six years part-time)

By joining us, you will become part of a vibrant and supportive community of world-renowned researchers, undertaking work that demonstrates both originality and relevance. Durham offers the opportunity to work with leading academic staff in state of the art world-class facilities within a unique environment offered by the collegiate system.

Key advantages of pursuing your research degree with us include:

  • Being part of a multi-disciplinary community with collaborations reaching out across the university research portfolio
  • Working with world-class researchers who will individually help you with your professional and personal development
  • The availability of advanced taught courses across all topics covered by the department
  • The availability of professional development courses
  • Being an active participant in established research groups, contributing to seminar programmes, publications and future research directions
  • Having an opportunity to contribute to the department's teaching, to develop key communication skills and to gain first-hand experience at a leading research institution

The University's postgraduate prospectus contains further information.

Research students receive the majority of their generic training via University-level courses, but Department-specific research training is offered by academics and technical staff, as well as through both student and academic seminars.


Please have a look at our research pages and our research groups to get a general idea of who is interested in what in our department.

You can also investigate further via our staff listing page, from where you can get to individual profile pages, most of which in turn contain links to personal web pages. Do not forget to check out Durham Research Online (DRO), DBLP and where you can search for individuals' papers. If you are interested in joining us then please contact relevant staff, and please avoid sending blanket emails.

Application Advice

Entry Requirements

  • For entry to the PhD you will be required to have achieved a 2:1 Bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject, from a recognised university (or equivalent). Overseas Students, please see equivalent entry requirements on our country pages.
  • The University's minimal language requirements for postgraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science, for students whose first language is not English, can be found here.

Admissions Process

  1. Identify your research project

You are welcome to include your own research proposal but it is not required. Please note that whilst this approach is perfectly valid, we prefer if students work together with potential supervisors to identify research projects, and agree on a proposal.

2. Identify and contact a potential supervisor

3. Gather all material

You have to gather your brief research proposal (agreed with the prospective supervisor), write a CV and provide electronic copies of all your certificates following the regulations set out above.

4. Make an online application to the department 

Once you have made contact with your potential supervisor and discussed a suitable project, you can proceed to make an online application to the university. The university will check all formal requirements of your submitted paperwork and then forward the application to the department.

You must provide two references, at least one of which must be an academic reference. The references should be on a company letterhead, signed and dated and they should be attached to the application. It is your responsibility to provide all references, i.e. we will not chase anybody. You have to hand the letters in!

As Durham is a collegiate university, you will additionally need to specify a college on the application form. At Durham, the colleges provide non-academic support to postgraduate students and your choice of college does not influence your application for study in the department. Many postgraduate students choose to join Ustinov College, the university's postgraduate-only college, although all Durham colleges accept postgraduates as college members of their academic community.

You can find the application system online to complete.

Fees, finances and scholarships

The cost of studying for your research degree in Durham has two core elements:

  1. University tuition fees are paid by all Durham students
  2. Subsistence costs (i.e. money that you need to live on for accommodation, food, travel and other personal needs)

Our research students are a mixture of both self-funded students and students supported by a range of scholarships. Detailed guidance on fees and finance - also covering scholarships - are provided on the University webpages.

Departmental PhD Funds

In most years, we have a very small number of PhD studentships distributed through the department. Our Board of Studies (the 'parliament' of the department) alters the way we distribute these studentships every year to be able to accommodate our strategic research investment needs, equality and diversity and to react to changing staffing situations. We ask ourselves 'what are areas Durham Computer Science should invest into or has successfully invested', 'in which areas are certain groups underrepresented', 'which areas are important yet struggle to find external funding as they yield long-term, high risk impact to the society and science but have no direct economic outcome'.

This list is not comprehensive. We then ask our staff to put their best PhD candidates forward and rank them internally. It is this quality of the students applying that is our number one metric, followed by our internal strategical considerations.

If you are a potential PhD student and interested in running for a departmental stipend, please ask your supervisor for further information, eligibility criteria and whether there are open calls at the moment.

In any case, you will need your full application documents ready, i.e. all academic evidence, a CV, and a project description which you have, in the best case, iterated forth and back with your potential supervisors who has to put you forward.

Scholarships are also regularly listed on FindAPhD.