Robotics and Autonomous Systems PhD
Why choose this programme
On our Robotics and Autonomous Systems PhD, you’ll study, design and build novel solutions and behaviours for robots and, in general, autonomous systems.
Robotics is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering and science that deals with the design, construction, operation and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback and information processing.
Robots must interact with people and objects, as well as challenging real-world environments. They must simulate human perception mechanisms, shared control and natural multi-modal interfaces. Robots must also exhibit a high degree of autonomy and intelligence when performing highly complex tasks, such as condition monitoring, prognostics and health management, and long-term persistent autonomy, including validation and verification.
Designing and managing robotics and autonomous systems requires diverse skills from various engineering disciplines such as electronics, mechatronics, control and signal processing, together with state-of-the-art micro and nano-sensors, embedded multi-core computing and artificial intelligence. This programme embraces all these disciplines and aims to train the next generation of innovators in the growing field of robotics and autonomous systems.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, the University of Surrey ranks 15th in the UK for research power for engineering and top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs (research papers and other published works).
What you will study
Our PhD in Robotics and Autonomous Systems will give you the knowledge, skills and expertise needed for a career in engineering, research or academia. You’ll be intellectually challenged, develop research and management skills, and become an expert in your chosen field of study.
It normally takes around three years to complete a full-time PhD. You will be assigned a minimum of two supervisors, who will guide you through your studies. You will learn how to conduct literature reviews, develop your ideas, and verify them with experiments, and collaborate and perform interdisciplinary research. You will develop your skills over time to become an independent researcher.
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.
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.
- Aerial robotics
- Bioinspired robots
- Field robotics
- Human-robot interaction
- Robots for condition monitoring and prognostics
- Robots for space applications
- Robot-soil interaction
- Robotic sensing and perception
- Soft robotics.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences.
As a PhD student within the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, you will have access to all our facilities, including our mechanical testing facility and the Space Technology Autonomous and Robotic systems Laboratory (STAR LAB).
Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper second-class (2:1) UK degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower-second (2:2) UK degree plus a good UK masters degree - distinction normally required (or equivalent overseas qualification).
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.
Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Start date: January 2024
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: September 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September 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 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
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.
Read our application guidance for further 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 procedures, 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 registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, 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 our full disclaimer.