Robotics and Autonomous Systems PhD
Full-time - 3 years
Start datesSeptember 2022
Part-time - 8 years
Start datesSeptember 2022
Why choose this programme
On our Robotics and Autonomous Systems PhD programme 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 PhD programme embraces all these disciplines and aims to train the next generation of innovators in the growing field of robotics and autonomous systems.
Our researchers also regularly collaborate with key players in industry. We host the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Thermo-Fluid Systems and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies.
The University of Surrey ranked 15th in the UK for research power for engineering in the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. We are now also ranked in the 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. Over time, we will develop your skills and transform you into 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 Autonomous and Robotic systems Laboratory (STAR 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).
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 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: September 2022
Start date: January 2023
Start date: April 2023
Start date: July 2023
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.
There are additional costs outside of the course 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.
Explore 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.