Informatics: ICSA: Computer Architecture, Compilation and System Software, Networks and Communication PhD, MPhil, MScR
Awards: PhD, MPhil, MScR
Study modes: Full-time, Part-time
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
systems software and operating systems
storage, file systems, and databases
processor-automated synthesis by iterative analysis
machine learning systems
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
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.
Programme structure 2023/24|
You will 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 will graduate with more than an intensive knowledge of your field: you will also have established academic and personal links that will last a lifetime.
The School of Informatics is committed to advancing 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
a full recording studio, amongst other research facilities
a spectacular atrium, which 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.
These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.
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.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
English language requirements
Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.
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.
C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
PTE Academic: total 62 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.
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 (non-MESC).
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.
School of Informatics scholarships for research students
Research scholarships for international students
Edinburgh Doctoral College Scholarship
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:
the duration of your studies
your tuition fee 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
Select your programme and preferred start date to begin your application.
PhD Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 3 Years (Full-time)
PhD Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 6 Years (Part-time)
MPhil Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 4 Years (Part-time)
MPhil Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 2 Years (Full-time)
MSc by Research Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 1 Year (Full-time)
MSc by Research Informatics: ICSA: Comp. Architecture, Compilation & System Software, Networks & Communication - 2 Years (Part-time)
Applications for 2024/25 entry are now open and can be submitted all year round.
Please submit your completed application at least three months prior to desired entry date.
If you want to be considered for School funded PhD scholarships you must apply by one of two rounds:
24 November 2023|
26 February 2024 (date extended)|
Please note that some University and School scholarships require separate applications via the Scholarships portal.
(Revised 25 October 2023 to update application deadlines)
(Revised 15 February 2024 to extend the round 2 application deadline)
You must submit two references with your application.
You must submit an application via the EUCLID application portal and provide the required information and documentation. This will include submission of:
A Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Research proposal (2-5 pages long)
Degree certificates and official transcripts of all completed and in-progress degrees (plus certified translations if academic documents are not issued in English)
Two academic references
Only complete applications will progress forward to the academic selection stage.
Read through detailed guidance on how to apply for a PGR programme in the School of Informatics
Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:
School of Informatics Graduate School
Office 3.42, Informatics Forum