Postgraduate study

Informatics: ICSA: Computer Architecture, Compilation and System Software, Networks and Communication PhD, MPhil, MScR

Awards: PhD, MPhil, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • 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 Academic: 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

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

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.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDInformatics3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDInformatics6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MPhilInformatics4 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MPhilInformatics2 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
MScRInformatics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScRInformatics2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • 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