Postgraduate study

Informatics: ICSA: Computer Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication

Awards: PhD, MPhil, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

The Institute for Computing System Architecture (ICSA) will provide you with academic resources and industry links that are among the best in the world.

We are home to the UK’s largest group of PhD researchers in the field, and host a Centre of Excellence in partnership with ARM, the world’s largest microprocessor intellectual property provider. We are also a member of the European Network of Excellence on High Performance and Embedded Architecture and Compilation.

Our current research is focused on the areas of:

  • compilers and architectures
  • parallel computing
  • wireless networking
  • processor-automated synthesis by iterative analysis.

While the scope for research is wide, each area is underpinned by our fundamental aims:

  • to extend understanding of existing systems
  • to improve current systems
  • to develop new architecture and engineering methods

You’ll be supported in your research by award-winning academic staff – including four Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering. They and other research colleagues have contributed to what is an enviable publications portfolio, featuring some of the most prestigious publications in the field.

You’ll graduate with more than an intensive knowledge of your field: you’ll also have established academic and personal links that will last a lifetime.

The School of Informatics holds a Silver Athena SWAN award, in recognition of our commitment to advance the representation of women in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. The School is deploying a range of strategies to help female staff and students of all stages in their careers and we seek regular feedback from our research community on our performance.

The award-winning Informatics Forum is an international research facility for computing and related areas. It houses more than 400 research staff and students, providing office, meeting and social spaces.

It also contains several robotics labs, an instrumented multimedia room, eye-tracking and motion capture systems, and a full recording studio amongst other research facilities. Its spectacular atrium plays host to many events, from industry showcases and student hackathons to major research conferences.

Nearby teaching facilities include computer and teaching labs with more than 250 machines, 24-hour access to IT facilities for students, and comprehensive support provided by dedicated computing staff.

Among our entrepreneurial initiatives is Informatics Ventures, set up to support globally ambitious software companies in Scotland and nurture a technology cluster to rival Boston, Pittsburgh, Kyoto and Silicon Valley.

Our students see their degrees as a launchpad for their careers, and many have established themselves as world-class researchers and developers. By joining their ranks, you will be able to make your mark on the next generation of technological innovations.

Academic and business employers actively recruit ICSA graduates, many of whom are now designing the next generation of products for major software developers, or taking the lead in other entrepreneurial ventures.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, typically in an area of informatics, such as artificial intelligence, cognitive science or computer science. You should have experience in computer programming.

We may also consider a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, in engineering, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics or psychology.

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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

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.

  • School of Informatics Graduate School
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE

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

  • School of Informatics Graduate School
  • 6th Floor, Appleton Tower
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE