Postgraduate study

Doctoral Research Centre in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

The Doctoral Research Centre (DRC) in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a 3 years PhD programme offered jointly by the School of Informatics and the School of Mathematics. The DRC follows on from the EPSRC CDT in Data Science.

The DRC recognises that if researchers in this area wish to be leaders in AI and shape the technology landscape, they must be deeply conversant in both data science and AI. Only then will they be able to direct and better understand how to research, develop and target technologies that will be the pioneering breakthroughs.

Data science is the study of the computational principles, methods and systems for extracting knowledge from data. Almost every activity in science, society and commerce now relies on data-driven decision making --- from large data analytics in biology to small companies deploying data-collecting apps to millions of customers.

AI is the study of computational systems that demonstrate capabilities of perception, reasoning, learning and action that are typical of human intelligence. We have also recently seen an explosive growth in the capability of modern AI technologies. The great recent successes of modern AI, such as object recognition and game playing, are based on data-driven approaches rooted in machine learning and deep networks.

Our programme will allow you to specialise and perform advanced research at the interface of Data Science and AI and gain breadth and practical experience throughout the field.

You will be supervised by one of our 85 world-renowned faculty members. You will also benefit from interacting with a group of 30+ leading industrial partners, including Microsoft Research, Aberdeen Standard, Amazon, Samsung, Huawei, IBM and IBM Research amongst many others.

*(Revised 17 April 2019 to reflect programme name change).

You will spend your programme duration developing and pursuing a Data Science and AI research project.

You will be assigned a supervisor, and with their guidance you will undertake independent research and write it up as a research thesis.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDData Science and Artificial Intelligence3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

While the emphasis is on independent research work, your supervisor will identify your training needs and so may encourage you to attend research training classes and/or some taught courses in Informatics.

As part of the PhD programme, you will also have opportunities for three to six month internships with leading companies in your area, and to participate in our industrial engagement programme, exchanging ideas and challenges with our sponsor.

*(Revised 17 April 2019 to reflect programme re-organisation form the DRC.)

Our research groups contain a diverse range of compute clusters for compute and data-intensive work, including a large cluster hosted by the Edinburgh Computer and Data Facility.

More broadly, 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 two 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.

We intend for our graduates to become the research leaders, both in industry and academia, whose work will lead the way in data science. This vision is shared by our industrial supporters, whose support for our internship programme indicates their strong desire to find highly qualified new employees.

You will be part of a new generation of data scientists, with the technical skills and interdisciplinary awareness to become R&D leaders in this emerging area.

Our component research groups already have excellent track-records in post-graduation destinations, including the research labs of industry-leading companies, and post-doctoral research positions in top tier universities.

A minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in computer science, mathematics, physics, engineering or a related discipline. Most students accepted to the programme hold a first class degree.

Applicants coming directly from a bachelors or masters degree are welcome.

We particularly welcome applications from members of communities under-represented in computer science and mathematics.

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.

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
PhDData Science and Artificial Intelligence3 YearsFull-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
  • Office 3.42, Informatics Forum
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AB

Applications for 2020/21 entry can be submitted all year round, however, please submit your completed application at least three months prior to desired entry date.

If want to be considered for school funded PhD scholarships you must apply by one of two rounds:

Round Application deadline
1 29 November 2019
2 31 January 2020

Please note that some university and school scholarships require separate applications via the Scholarships portal.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must also submit a CV.

Find out more about the application process for this programme on the Data Science website:

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

Further information

  • School of Informatics Graduate School
  • Office 3.42, Informatics Forum
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AB