Information and Communication Systems PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates

October 2022
January 2023
April 2023

Why choose this programme

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

We’re specialists in mobile and wireless technologies, including satellite communications, internet of things, cybersecurity, future network architectures and protocols. As home to the 5G and 6G Innovation Centre (5G/6GIC), we’re recognised as world leaders in end-to-end research and practical implementation for 5G and beyond 5G mobile communications. 

Our strong track record in research includes high quality publications, patents and world-class implementations. We’re heavily involved in collaborative research across the UK, Europe, Asia and the Americas, funded by governments and industry. Our PhD graduates are well known and gain good positions across industry and academia. 

ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked our telecommunication engineering subjects as the 48th best in the world in 2020.

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

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’ll guide you through your studies. 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 ICS and you 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.


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

Research support

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.

Research themes

We research areas related to ICT, end-to-end mobile and satellite communications and networks, and their application to verticals such as connected vehicles and health, including: 

  • Intelligent and high-performance networking and service delivery 
  • New physical layer 
  • MAC, RRM and RAN management 
  • Artificial intelligence for wireless communications 
  • Theory and practice of advanced concepts in wireless communications 
  • 5G security 
  • Antennas and signal processing.

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 ICS, home to about 160 researchers. ICS is one of the world’s largest academic research centres dedicated to mobile and wireless communications, and you’ll have access to state-of-the-art facilities such as:

  • Campus-wide 5G/6G Testbed 
  • Antennas, Intelligent Surfaces and Propagation labs 
  • Networks Lab Testbed 
  • Link, System and Network level Models and tools 
  • Satellite Networking Testbed 
  • Wireless Network Testbed 
  • Internet of Things and Robotics Testbed.

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).

International 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.

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.


Start date: October 2022


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: January 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

Start date: April 2023


UK £4,596

Overseas £23,400


UK £2,298

Overseas £11,700

For fees payable in 2022/23, 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 2022 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.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

How to apply

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

More information on the application process.

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.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH