UKRI CDT In Foundational AI


Frequently asked questions

We understand that you might have some questions about how to apply and what to produce. Here we have tried to answer as many of the most frequently asked questions for you.

What should I expect the next four years to look like if I get onto the course?

Please visit our webpage about our programme structure, where we've put together some information about the course and a timeline for you.

When does the programme start?

In the beginning of October each year. Only in exceptional circumstances would students be allowed to begin at any other time.

How long is the programme?

Four years.

What is the difference between a CDT PhD and a standard PhD?

The CDT PhD programme is specially designed to train students as part of a cohort with the aim to deliver world-leading AI researchers and AI entrepreneurs. In addition to standard PhD research, the CDT has additional training elements in neuroscience, entrepreneurship, high performance computing, AI ethics and science communication. Specialised workshops at the Alan Turing Institute, annual CDT retreats and internships with our partner organisations are also only available to CDT students.

What can I do to make my application stand out?

We are interested in applicants who show an understanding of what it means to be part of a cohort of students, learning together and contributing to the collective experience. Hence, we are particularly interested in applicants that can help enhance the learning experience for themselves and others.  For example, applicants may have interests that they feel they could share with others, or be willing to organise activities to support both their specific academic interests and broader societal interests. For example, community engagement or helping others to benefit from AI.

A key facet of the FAI CDT is to support students to become AI entrepreneurs and make a positive societal impact. Applicants that express and can demonstrate an interest AI entrepreneurship and the societal impact of their studies are therefore particularly welcome.

Can I contact and/or name more than one supervisor?

We suggest that you list only one supervisor in your application, however if you feel that your work encompasses multiple supervisors then yes, this is permitted. However, it’s important that at least one supervisor strongly supports your application and research proposal. You must name at least one supervisor on your application. Applications with no supervisor listed will not be considered complete and will not be processed. 

How detailed should the research proposal be?

The research proposal is an exercise that we ask applicants to carry out in order to ascertain their level of knowledge and readiness for PhD level research. We expect a detailed research statement that explains the state-of-the-art and why the proposed research is timely, interesting and well motivated. References to existing works must be given. There is no minimal length, but to explain any idea in sufficient detail with references would typically require at least 3 pages.

Am I eligible?

The rules are set by the UK government:

  • UK Students : If you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years you will normally be entitled to apply for a full studentship. This will cover tuition fees and provide a maintenance stipend.

  • EU (non UK) Students : If you have been ordinarily resident in another EU country (outside the UK) for three years immediately prior to the studentship you will normally be able to apply for a fees-only award (without a maintenance stipend). If you have lived in the UK for three years you may be eligible for a full studentship. The UK Government has guaranteed EU eligibility for Research Council funding for PhDs beginning before the end of the 2019-20 academic year. We will update as more information becomes available from the government. The AI Centre has some addititional stipend-only scholarships available which we may award in addition to the UKRI fees-only awards, meaning that we will be able to provide a number of fully funded scholarships for EU candidates.

  • International (non EU, non UK) Students: International students (from countries outside the EU) are normally ineligible for UK Research Council funding. However, the department and industry has kindly donated some studentships which we can use to support international students, though the number of these is limited.

Is there a part-time option?

We do not encourage the programme to be taken part-time. This is because we believe that only by spending significant time embedded within the UCL research and training environment will the student be able to fully benefit from the cohort experience. However, in exceptional circumstances (for example due to caring responsibilities), we are happy to consider applications for part-time study (maximum of 7 years).

How much will the stipend be?

This is to be confirmed, but it will be approximately GBP 21,168. Note that the CDT will pay tuition fees.

Where will I live?

Students need to organise their own accommodation. See also accommodation at UCL itself.

What kind of reference is required for PhD application?

Since the PhD is an academic endeavour, ideally your referee should be able to attest to your suitability to carry out academic research. A character reference from an employer is not relevant.

Is there a list of supervisors anywhere?

Yes, please see our List of Potential Supervisors

I want to speak to a real human about this, who do I speak to and how?

Please email Sharon Betts, our CDT Centre Manager