Postgraduate study

EPCC: High Performance Computing, Computational & Data Science, Software Engineering PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Part-time, Full-time

Funding opportunities

EPCC (formerly the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) offers the opportunity to study for a PhD in areas related to High Performance Computing, Computational & Data Science, Software Engineering & Sustainability, and Parallelism.

Founded in 1990, EPCC is one of the leading supercomputing centres in Europe and a major provider of training in high performance computing. EPCC’s expertise includes advanced research, technology transfer, commercial consultancy and the provision of supercomputing and data services to academia and business.

EPCC hosts an exceptional collection of high-performance and novel computing facilities including, on behalf of UKRI, 'ARCHER2', the UK’s Tier-1 research supercomputer. Other systems include the Arm-based 'Fulhame' system as part of the Catalyst UK programme and the heterogeneous (CPU/GPU) 'Cirrus' system, a national Tier-2 HPC service. EPCC will also host, as part of the Edinburgh International Data Facility (EIDF), host the first European deployment of a Cerebras CS-1 High Performance AI Computer.

EPCC has a team of experienced researchers with a wealth of expertise in the latest technologies. We have active research interests in various and varied areas including:

  • Computational modelling, including computational fluid dynamics
  • Programming models and software for future HPC systems
  • Performance characterisation and benchmarking
  • HPC at the Exascale level
  • Big Data and Data Science at scale
  • Software Sustainability
  • Quantum Computing for HPC
  • FPGAs and novel hardware

Our software specialists have an impressive portfolio of projects, including many industrial applications. We work at the forefront of the field, for example through our leadership of the UK’s Software Sustainability Institute, ensuring that today’s new software continues to be improved and supported in the future.

At any time EPCC may be working on dozens or more nationally and/or internationally significant projects often in collaboration with academia, industry, or both. For up to date examples please see * our website.

You carry out your research within EPCC under the guidance of a supervisory team.

You will be expected to attend seminars and meetings of relevant research groups and may also attend lectures that are relevant to your research topic. You may also be encouraged to contribute to EPCC's seminar series.

Periodic reviews of your progress will be conducted to assist with research planning.

A programme of transferable skills courses facilitates broader professional development in a wide range of topics, from writing and presentation skills to entrepreneurship and career strategies. With the support of your supervisor, you will conduct an annual Training Needs Assessment, during which you will agree and plan your schedule of complementary training.

You will have full access to the courses delivered as part of EPCC's MSc programmes in HPC and HPC with Data Science. Any areas of these with which you are unfamiliar you will be very welcome, if not encouraged due to project relevance, to attend to help further develop your skills. Some PhD students also contribute to teaching, training, and outreach activities at EPCC, including as paid demonstrators/teaching assistants.

Opportunities may also arise to contribute to external or internal hackathon events or to support activities such as the Student Cluster Competition.

EPCC is home to some of Europe’s most advanced supercomputing systems that enable high-level grid computing, data integration, computer simulation and process optimisation. These include national-level facilities used by researchers on behalf of various UK research funding councils:

  • ARCHER - UK national supercomputing facility provided by RCUK
  • DiRAC - UK national supercomputing facility provided by STFC
  • UK Research Data Facility (UK-RDF) - UK national data facility provided by RCUK

Graduates from EPCC have found rewarding employment across an immensely wide range of areas including:

  • EPCC and University of Edinburgh
  • Other Major Supercomputing Centres in the US and Europe
  • Defence industry
  • Medical Imaging sector
  • Gaming industry

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a subject relevant to your project, typically one of: computational science (physics, biology, chemistry), cognitive science, artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, informatics, data science, engineering, or geosciences.

We may also consider a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in fields such as linguistics, philosophy, or psychology if a relevant project is available.

You should be a competent to strong programmer in a language (or languages) relevant to your chosen project, typically at least one of C, C++, Java, Fortran, or Python. Individual projects may contain specific requirements relating to their topic.

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 (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees

EPCC holds multiple EPSRC studentships for 2022/23 entry. For EPSRC eligibility information please see

Please note that EPCC PhD applicants may not be eligible for some of the PhD scholarships on offer by the School of Informatics.

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:

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Programmes Manager, Ben Morse
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3398
  • Contact: phd@epcc.ed.ac.uk
  • EPCC
  • Floor 2, The Bayes Centre
  • 47 Potterrow
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9BT
Programme start dates Application deadlines
1 November 2021 31 July 2022
1 December 2021 31 July 2022
10 January 2022 31 July 2022
1 May 2022 31 July 2022

Applications for 2022/23 entry open on 1 October and can be submitted all year round.

Please submit your completed application at least three months prior to your desired entry date.

You must submit two references with your application.

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Programmes Manager, Ben Morse
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3398
  • Contact: phd@epcc.ed.ac.uk
  • EPCC
  • Floor 2, The Bayes Centre
  • 47 Potterrow
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9BT