UCL Computer Science


PhD students

This is the webpage for current PhD students. It is under review and will be moved to a password protected area (summer 2021). Contact Gemma Ludbrook or Gine Baidoo at cs.researchdegrees@ucl.ac.uk


Research Degree: Structure & Timeframes

Month 0 Registration -- initially MPhil registration.

Month 0-6 General reading, directed by the supervisor, in the area of interest. This develops student understanding of the area and allows them to appreciate the research problems. A few small, short projects may be required to vary the activities, as well as seminars on work done or on papers read

Months 6-9 More detailed reading in more technical areas of a problem --- not a field, since we do not wish to inhibit cross-disciplinary thinking. The aim is to become expert enough to tackle a thesis project. A smaller, focused project is here to frame reading, as well as seminars on work done and papers read. A report on the year's activities should be started

Months 8-9 FORMAL 1ST-YEAR VIVA (10-12 for Part-time) This is the first major examination, and must take place no more than 9 months from the start date. A feedback activity regarding the student’s ability to demonstrate mastery of the literature and state-of-the-art in an area of research. Given a read of the student's report, the supervisor, 2nd supervisor and an 'assessor' review the work done with the aim of providing the student with proper feedback on their work.

Months 10-21 Detailed work on the thesis project. Give seminars on the thesis work. Towards the end of the period a report needs writing.

Months 21 FORMAL TRANSFER VIVA (30-36 for Part-time) This is the second major examination. A substantial project report is expected demonstrating the ability to conduct research, with initial research results, and a plan for completion of the work and writing of the thesis. The outcome of the viva will determine whether the student is allowed to transfer registration from MPhil to PhD. A failure to transfer normally results in the student working toward completion of an MPhil thesis. A second attempt at the viva must take place before month 24.

Months 22-36 Thesis project work being tidied up and turned into a unified piece of work. Thesis writing being planned and chapters being drafted. Seminars being given.

Month 36 MOCK VIVA (48-60 for Part-time) A draft thesis and mock viva. This is to be attended by the supervisor, second supervisor and assessor and any others thought relevant. Thesis submission forms (aka Entry forms) completed and submitted.

Months 36-42 Complete the writing of the thesis.

Month 42 (60-72 for Part-time) Submit thesis. Clearly not all PhD programmes will take this long, and many are such that submission happens earlier than month 42, and even earlier than month 36, for example in month 32. This is to be encouraged, particularly if the student is working with a fixed term of funding (typically 36–42 months duration). The outline above is what we believe to be the longest that a programme should be. No PhD student should be expected to do more than 42 months work. If it transpires that an extra month or two is required to complete the writing up, then so be it. However, the goal is that this should be a rare situation. What might go beyond month 42 is the examination of the thesis. The examiners of the thesis are normally expected to read the thesis with 1 to 3 months and to hold the viva examination very soon after that.

Facilities in the department

Information about facilities in the department, such as out of hours working, personal workspace, common room use, photocopying, printing, room booking, stationery and telephones.

For any additional facilities requests, email facilities@cs.ucl.ac.uk

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These are some of the more regularly asked questions, but don't feel silly if your question isn't listed here. Some questions are common, but have a fairly complicated answer that varies from person to person, so if it isn't here just email: cs.researchdegrees@ucl.ac.uk 

Money, Fees and Funding

Q: When and how will I receive my stipend?

A: Typically once you have provided your bank details on Portico you should get your first stipend payment within 10 working days of enrolment, and then it will be transferred to your bank account before the start each semester. If you haven't got your stipend by then, or you are being chased to pay your fees when you are in receipt of a student ship, then please remember that money, finance and all things £££ in Computer Science are handled by our Finance Team, Dawn Bailey and Wendy Richards. If you have been awarded any funding please speak to either of our professional finance administrators who will be happy to help.

Email: d.bailey@ucl.ac.uk and w.richards@ucl.ac.uk 

Telephone: 020 7679 1315 and 020 7679 7081 (or 31315 and 37081 internally)

Desk Space and office things

Q: Where can I sit? Can I have a desk?

A: At the current time our available space is very limited. PhD students in their first year and on CRS are expected to either work from home or use a hot desk. Students in their 2nd and 3rd year of study are usually given a permanent desk. As this space is precious you must be seen to be using it or you will lose it, so if you intend to be gone for any length of time let  the facilities know.

Hot desks can be found in the Peter Kirstein Room on the 5th Floor of Malet Place (ask at reception if you need the code, or Sarah can tell you), in the hub rooms on the 2nd and 4th floors of 66-72 Gower Street. The area in front of the lifts in MPEB are also available for anyone to sit at.

Q: May I borrow a pen? Can I print something?

A: No. You can have a pen. For free. Also you can have other stationery. Students can use the materials available in the copy room freely, but must sign for them in the book on the counter. We ask that you try to only take what you need. You can print and photocopy whatever you like in the Department, once you are given a CS login your account as a PhD student should be set up with unlimited printing in the department. Email the Facilities team if this is not the case. You may need to map the printer nearest to you to your machine, which TSG can help with if you get stuck (request@cs.ucl.ac.uk).

Q: Can I bring visitors to the Department?

A: Yes, but you must sign them in with security on the ground floor (which is in the main Engineering building for MPEB). Anyone under 18 must be with a parent or guardian and supervised at all times and only research collaborators (with your supervisor's permission) are allowed in the open-plan offices.

Q: Can I have out-of-hours access to the building please?

A: Yes. Your cards should already give you access from 7am to 11pm, 7 days a week. If you think that you need more than that please email Facilities at facilities@cs.ucl.ac.uk.

Additional benefits

Q: Can I attend an MSc or UG lecture? - that module looks interesting!

A: Most of the time, yes. First ask the lecturer for that module for their agreement to attend informally. You will not be able to sit the exam or obtain any qualification, but generally unless the room capacity would not allow it then most lecturers are happy to allow you to attend.

Q: Can I use the coffee machine or steal a teabag? May I put my lunch in the fridge?

A: Yes. PhD students may use the coffee, tea and milk available in the MPEB common room or the ones on each floor of 66 Gower Street. Bring your own mug and clean up after yourself. If you put anything in the fridge please use the sealable bags on the side and label them with your name and the date.

Q: I need a room for a meeting, is this possible?

A: Yes! Email facilities@cs.ucl.ac.uk with the date, time, duration and amount of space (in people) needed and the team will let you know if a room is a available. The closer to the date you leave it the less likely that there will be space, so try to book at least 2 days in advance.

Welcome booklet

Helpful information about the programme, life in London, services at UCL and other details can be found in our welcome pack which is updated over the summer. New starters will receive this ahead of start of year.