Computer Science (4 Year Programme) MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The PhD programme in UCL Computer Science is a 4-year programme, in which you will work within research groups on important and challenging problems in the development of computer science. We have research groups that cover many of the leading-edge topics in computer science, and you will be supervised by academics at the very forefront of their field.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
4 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A UK Master's degree in a relevant discipline with Merit, or a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Work experience may also be taken into account.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

On this PhD programme, you will work within research groups on challenging computer science projects.

Our research groups cover leading-edge topics, and our academics are at the forefront of their field.

The research groups, the department, and the college, provide numerous opportunities to learn more about your field and the skills required to develop your research and future careers.

Who this course is for

This programme is best suited for people wishing to embark on an academic career, as well as those interested in finding work in industry. You will be assigned a first and second supervisor, who will guide you in the development of your research project and your abilities as a researcher. The research groups, the department, and the college, provide numerous opportunities for you to learn more about your field (e.g. seminars, conferences, and journal clubs) and the skills required for you to develop your research and future careers (e.g. training courses). Many of our students have had their research results published and recognised at leading international conferences during their time on the PhD programme.

What this course will give you

UCL is ranked 9th globally in the latest QS World University Rankings (2024), giving you an exciting opportunity to study at one of the world's best universities.

UCL Computer Science is recognised as a world leader in teaching and research. The department was ranked first in England and second in the UK for research power in Computer Science and Informatics in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). You will learn from leading experts with an outstanding reputation in the field. 

Code written at UCL is used across all 3G mobile networks for instant messaging and videoconferencing; medical image computing has led to faster prostate cancer diagnosis and has developed tools to help neurosurgeons avoid damaging essential communication pathways during brain surgery; and our human-centred approach to computer security has transformed the UK government's delivery of online security.

This MPhil/PhD in Computer Science is a research degree programme that will not only challenge and stimulate you, but also has the potential to lead to a varied and interesting career and introduce you to valuable contacts in academia and the industry.

The foundation of your career

Your employability will be greatly enhanced by working alongside world-leading researchers in cutting-edge research areas such as virtual environments, networked systems, human-computer interaction and financial computing. UCL's approach is multi-disciplinary and UCL Computer Science shares ideas and resources from across all departments of Faculty of Engineering Sciences and beyond. Our alumni have a successful record of finding work, or have founded their own successful start-up companies, because they have an excellent understanding of the current questions which face industry and have the skills and the experience to market innovative solutions.


UCL Computer Science graduates secure careers in a variety of organisations, including global IT consultancies, City banks and specialist companies in manufacturing industries.

The department takes pride in helping students in their career choices and offers placements and internships with numerous start-up technology companies, including those on Silicon Roundabout, world-leading companies such as Google, Skype and Facebook, and multi national finance companies, including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.

Our graduates secure roles such as applications developers, information systems managers, IT consultants, multimedia programmers, software engineers and systems analysts in companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Bloomberg, PwC and IBM.


UCL Computer Science is located in the heart of London and subsequently has strong links with industry. You will have regular opportunities to undertake internships at world-leading research organisations. We frequently welcome industry executives to observe your project presentations, and we host networking events with technology entrepreneurs.

You will also benefit from a location close to the City of London and Canary Wharf to work on projects with leading global financial companies. London is also home to numerous technology communities, for example the Graduate Developer Community, who meet regularly and provide mentors for students interested in finding developer roles when they graduate.

Teaching and learning

You are assigned a first and second supervisor who you will meet regularly. You are also assigned a research group who normally meet regularly for research seminars and related activities in the department.

You will participate in three vivas during the course of your study. These are useful feedback opportunities and allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the literature, your progress in your research and eventually, your final thesis and research. For each viva, you will be expected to produce a detailed report of your work to date and to attend a 'verbal exam' with supervisors and/or external academics/experts.

During your research degree, you will have regular meetings with your primary supervisor, in addition to contact with your secondary supervisor and participation in group meetings. Full-time study should comprise of 40 hours per week .

Research areas and structure

  • Bioinformatics: protein structure; genome analysis; transmembrane protein modelling; de novo protein design methods; exploiting grid technology; mathematical modelling of biological processes
  • Financial computing: software engineering; computational statistics and machine learning; mathematical modelling
  • Human centred systems: usability of security and multimedia systems; making sense of information; human error and cognitive resilience
  • Information security: human and organisational aspects of security; privacy-enhancing technologies; cryptography and cryptocurrencies; cybersecurity in public policy and international relations; systems security and cybercrime
  • Intelligent systems: knowledge representation and reasoning; machine learning
  • Media futures: digital rights management; information retrieval; computational social science; recommender systems
  • Networks: internet architecture; protocols; mobile networked systems; applications and evolution; high-speed networking
  • Programming Principles, Verification and Logic’: logic and the semantics of programs; automated tools for verification and program analysis; produce mathematically rigorous concepts and techniques that aid in the construction and analysis of computer systems; applied logic outreach in AI, security, biology, economics
  • Software systems engineering: requirements engineering; software architecture; middleware technologies; distributed systems; software tools and environments; mobile computing
  • Virtual environments: presence, virtual characters; interaction; rendering; mixed reality
  • Vision and imaging science: face recognition; medical image analysis; statistical modelling of colour information; inverse problems and building mathematical models for augmented reality; diffusion tensor imaging

Research environment

UCL Computer Science is one of the leading university centres for computer science research in Europe. The department is very well-connected with research groups across the university, and is involved in many exciting multi-disciplinary research projects.

Furthermore, research groups in the department are heavily involved in collaborative research and development projects with other universities and with companies in the UK and internationally. UCL provides significant support for technology transfer, and in particular for technology start-ups, and the department has an increasingly successful record of spin-out companies including a number of spin-outs that have been acquired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.

Month 0 Registration - initially MPhil registration.

Month 0-6 - General reading, directed by the supervisor, in the area of interest. This should bring you up to the sharp end of the area and allow you to appreciate what the research problems are.

Months 6-9 - More detailed reading, aimed at becoming expert enough to tackle a thesis project. A small focused project is in order here to pin the reading on. A report on the year's activities should begin to be prepared.

Month 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. Given a read of your report, the supervisor, 2nd supervisor and an 'assessor' review the work done with the aim of providing you with proper feedback on your work. This is also a good opportunity to get feedback for the Transfer Viva and is often used as a “mock transfer”.

Months 12-18 - FORMAL TRANSFER VIVA (15-21 for Part-time) Also known as the “Upgrade Viva” - this is where you would upgrade your expected qualification from MPhil to PhD. 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 you are allowed to transfer registration from MPhil to PhD.

Months 24-36 - Thesis project work being tidied up and turned into a unified piece of work. Thesis writing being planned and chapters being drafted. You are now eligible for Completing Research Status

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.

See full-time summary


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

As each research project is unique in nature, the AFE (Additional Fee Element) is calculated on a student-by-student basis and is determined by your academic supervisor. Please contact your supervisor for further details.

A student conference and travel fund is available to students within the department to help with costs associated with attending and presenting at conferences. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL offers various funding opportunities for postgraduate students. Please see UCL's Scholarships website for more information.

The department offers funding for overseas and UK students. Please see the Computer Science website for more information.

Home students will have the opportunity to apply for EPSRC DTP Studentships where available.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Value: Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. All applicants are asked to identify and contact potential supervisors before making an application. For more information see our How to apply page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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