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 subjects as the 45th best in the world in 2019.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Marion Redfern Studentship Award 2020
Full tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and stipend at the UKRI rate, currently £15,009 for 2019/20.
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.