Information and Communication Systems PHD

Why choose this course

The University of Surrey’s Institute for Communication Systems is the largest academic research centre in the UK specialising in information and communications technology, with over 160 academics, research fellows and PhD students. You’ll be taught by leading experts in the field, gain excellent employment prospects and become part of our thriving postgraduate research community.

We’re specialists in mobile and wireless networks, satellite communications and networks, internet of things, cloud computing, cybersecurity, big data, future networks architecture and protocols. We’re widely recognised for our original contributions to society, our rigorous use of new technologies and techniques, and our impact on the wider economy.

Our strong track records in research include high quality publications, patents and excellent PhD graduates working in network operators, manufacture, regulators and standard organisation activities. We’re deeply involved in research programmes funded by UK Research Councils, the European Framework programme, European Space Agency and industries. We also have strong collaborative research internationally with universities and research institutes in China, Europe, US, Japan and Korea.

You’ll benefit from our cutting-edge facilities, including a 5G, satellite and internet of things testbed, an anechoic chamber and wideband channel sounder.

ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked our telecommunication engineering as the 35th best in the world in 2017.

What you will study

It normally takes three to four years of full-time study to complete our PhD.

You’ll be assigned two supervisors, who will guide you through your PhD. Your supervisors will give you direction and experience of the cutting-edge technologies in their areas of expertise. They’ll also give you the support you need to complete your PhD, from giving you guidance and feedback on your work to helping you frame your research proposal. Though you’ll primarily be in contact with your two supervisors, you’ll also work with other staff within the Institute for Communications Systems, and may have the opportunity to become a team member on particular research projects.

You’ll be required to write a confirmation report on your research, and be examined by two examiners. After that, you’ll submit a thesis in your third or fourth year, and complete a viva examination with both internal and external examiners.

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PHD Full-time 48 months October 2018
PHD Part-time 96 months January 2019
PHD Part-time 96 months October 2018
PHD Full-time 48 months April 2018
PHD Full-time 48 months July 2018
PHD Part-time 96 months April 2018
PHD Part-time 96 months July 2018

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. 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).

Research themes

We research areas related to IT, mobile and satellite communications and networks, including:

  • 5G network and technologies
  • Air interface
  • Cognitive networks and future internet
  • Cognitive radio
  • Radio access system optimisation
  • Security
  • Knowledge and data engineering
  • Satellite communication systems and networks

Our academic staff

See a full list of all our academic staff within the Institute for Communication Systems.

Research facilities

You’ll be allocated space in our new 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), home to over 170 researchers. The 5GIC is the world’s largest academic research centre dedicated to next generation mobile and wireless connectivity, and features the following facilities:

  • 5G testbed
  • Antennas and propagation labs
  • Future internet platform
  • Models and tools
  • Networks lab testbed
  • Satellite networking testbed
  • Wireless ad-hoc testbed
  • Wireless network testbed
  • Wireless sensor network lab.

Entry requirements

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. The University of Surrey is also an IELTS test centre.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Oversees fees
Full-time October 2018 £4,260 £20,800
Part-time January 2019 £2,130 £10,400
Part-time October 2018 £2,130 £10,400
Full-time April 2018 £4,195 £20,000
Full-time July 2018 £4,195 £20,000
Part-time April 2018 £2,100 £10,000
Part-time July 2018 £2,100 £10,000

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.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.


We have a host of partly and fully-funded studentship opportunities available.

Industrial CASE

Funding information:
The award will be for a period of three years and include home tuition fees, plus a stipend (approx £14,296 p.a).

Development of novel radiation-grafted powder ionomers for use in high performance alkali membrane fuel cells

Funding information:
Funding status: Directly Funded Project (European/UK Students only) EU/UK  fees for 3 years: 2018-19 level £4195 Standard stipend for 3 years: 2017-18 level £14,553 £5k bench fees across three-year project

Postgraduate open afternoon

Visit the University to find out more about studying here


Join a webinar and engage with our world-class academics


Find us

01SE01, Senate House
University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH