Postgraduate study

Digital Communications

Awards: PhD, MPhil, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Digital Communications

The Institute for Digital Communications (IDCOM) is the UK's leading research institute in signal processing and communications and is home to the Li-Fi research and development centre. We have three major centres of activity; signal processing, communications systems and tomographic imaging. Our programme of research delivers world leading research in signal and image processing and communications from fundamental theoretical and algorithmic work through to its translation to specific audio, imaging, radar/sonar, and communications applications.

The Institute has excellent research facilities, including state-of-the-art computing systems and laboratories for agile tomography, and audio signal processing, as well as the Li-Fi research and development centre for visible light communications. Internationally recognised for our research on communications systems and signal processing, we offer research topics including: green radio; visible light communications; cognitive radio; compressive sensing; distributed sensor signal processing; and agile tomography.

IDCOM holds the only UK Research Council platform award in sensor signal processing, in collaboration with the joint research institute in signal and image processing and Heriot-Watt University, recognising our world leading research status.

The development of transferable skills is a vital part of postgraduate training and a vibrant, interdisciplinary training programme is offered to all research students by the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD). The programme concentrates on the professional development of postgraduates, providing courses directly linked to postgraduate study.

Courses run by the IAD are free and have been designed to be as flexible as possible so that you can tailor the content and timing to your own requirements.

Our researchers are strongly encouraged to present their research at conferences and in journal during the course of their PhD.

Every year, the Graduate School organises a Postgraduate Research Conference to showcase the research carried out by students across the Research Institutes

Our researchers are also encouraged and supported to attend transferable skills courses provided by organisations such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The Institute has excellent research facilities, including state-of-the-art computing systems and laboratories for usability engineering, audio signal processing and visible light communications.

We offer a comprehensive range of exciting research opportunities through a choice of postgraduate research degrees: PhD, MPhil and MSc by Research.

Masters by Research

An MSc by Research is based on a research project tailored to a candidate’s interests. It lasts one year full time or two years part time. The project can be a shorter alternative to an MPhil or PhD, or a precursor to either – including the option of an MSc project expanding into MPhil or doctorate work as it evolves. It can also be a mechanism for industry to collaborate with the School.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree resembles a PhD but generally takes two years instead of three and does not carry the same requirement for original contribution to knowledge. You pursue your individual research project under supervision, submitting your thesis at the end of the project.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

As a PhD candidate you pursue a research project under continuous guidance, resulting in a thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge. In the School of Engineering you will be linked to two academic supervisors and one industrial supervisor if the project is industrially sponsored.

A UK undergraduate degree, or its international equivalent, in an appropriate subject, or relevant qualifications and experience.

Please contact us to check the specific entry requirements for this programme before you apply.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

  • Graduate School of Engineering
  • Faraday Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JL

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Engineering
  • Faraday Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JL