Why choose this course
Our PhD research programme provides you with the opportunity to study a wide range of computer science topics – from technologies and systems for securing online businesses and our lives, to technologies inspired by nature for solving complicated real-world problems, and to real-world applications of advanced technologies such as machine learning and pattern recognition. Our expert supervisors, highly rated research activities and excellent facilities mean that by the time you complete your PhD, you will be a specialist in your field.
The Surrey Centre for Cyber Security (SCCS), hosted and managed by the Department of Computer Science, is one of only 14 UK Government recognised Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACEs-CSR), and is particularly strong in interdisciplinary research with other departments, with links with Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Psychology, Business, Sociology, Law, and Economics. We also have strong links with global research institutes such as the University of Oxford, Microsoft Research Cambridge and the Pirbright Institute for joint PhD projects.
We strive to excel in our research, with many members of staff being publicly recognised as experts in their respective fields. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, 60 per cent of our research was rated world-leading or internationally excellent, and our research profile has been consistently ranked in the world top 150 and top 10 in the UK according to academic subject rankings of SJTU Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) in Computer Science.
What you will study
Our PhD in Computer Science will give you the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for a career in academia, research and development work in industry, and for a wide variety of professional opportunities.
It normally takes around three to four years to complete a full-time PhD. You’ll be assigned at least two supervisors (a principal and a secondary), who will guide you through your PhD. You’ll learn how to conduct literature reviews, how to develop your research ideas and verify them with experiments, and how to collaborate and perform interdisciplinary research.
Exactly what your studies will look like will depend on your choice of topic: most of our PhD students conduct their research on computers in the Department, but some need access to special hardware in a lab setting. We’ll make sure that you’ve got everything you need to conduct your research during your PhD.
We offer a diverse programme of activities within our Department, including monthly tea parties between PhD students and staff, elevator pitch sessions every other month, as well as bespoke workshops and social events.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
- Hardware security
- Trusted computing
- Privacy-preserving computing
- User authentication
- Secure communications
- Network security
- Multimedia security
- Digital forensics
- Human factors
- Applied cryptography
- Security protocols
- Formal methods for security
- IoT security and privacy
- Security visualisation
- Intrusion detection
- Data loss prevention
- Cloud security
- Cyber crime
- Side channel attacks and countermeasures
- Mobile security and privacy
- Game theory for security
- Information hiding and steganography.
Nature-inspired computing and engineering
- Computational intelligence
- Evolutionary optimisation
- Machine learning, including deep learning
- Pattern recognition
- Data mining
- Knowledge extraction
- Signal processing
- Medical image processing
- Systems biology
- Morphogenetic engineering
- Neural information processing
- Developmental and cognitive neuroscience
- Time series analysis.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the Department of Computer Science.
We have great computing resources to support your research, including our own high-performance computing clusters, and a modern seminar room with teleconferencing and video recording facilities.
From September 2019 we will have a new 200 seater computing facility for students and each will have access to a Raspberry Pi and a TPM, and there will also be a virtual network to support cyber security research. We also have GPU facilities for parallel programming and deep learning and an applied laboratory with new machines, and an array of IoT equipment.
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).
View entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
We will be offering over 150 Doctoral College studentships for outstanding prospective postgraduate researchers starting in October 2020.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
Vice-Chancellor’s studentship award 2020
This competition funded studentship covers international fees and a stipend at UKRI Rate (currently £15,009), alongside a research training support grant of £1,000 per annum.
Find out more
Verification of security and privacy in modern communication protocols
A stipend of £16,000 per annum, tax-free, subject to nationality and residence status. Fees are covered for UK/EU students.
Find out more
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.