Computer Science at Royal Holloway is one of the world's leading centres of research in various areas of theoretical and applied computer science.
The department produces extremely high-quality research, as demonstrated by our high ratings in Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) / Research Excellence Frameworks (REF), where we ranked 11th in the UK among more than 80 computer science departments for the quality of our research outputs.
Collaborative research is carried out in many different fields, from finance to the analysis of movie scripts, from computational simulations of epidemics to foundational aspects of probability and logic.
We welcome applications for Postgraduate Research studies from people all over the world regardless of gender, race or religious belief.
In addition to the information below, check our separate page on the topics in which we supervise.
For any information, please contact phd admissions.
Research students enjoy a very lively research culture and are fully involved in the research activities of the Department (and share their successes). Many of them present papers at international conferences, with financial support from the Department.
A Postgraduate Colloquium is held annually: all second and third-year research students give 15-minute talks to present the results of their research achieved during the year to members of staff from different research groups, fellow research students, and external guests; first-year students give a poster presentation.
Students are expected to attend all departmental research seminars, and there is a separate student-organised 'cakes talk' series which allows students to develop their presentational skills. We have a weekly social event to which all students, research assistants and staff are invited. The College provides dedicated social space for graduate students, facilitating inter-departmental links.
Especially for topics that involve data analytics, the Department has a dedicated state-of-the-art computing cluster HP DL380 comprising 32 processors, 32 Terabytes of disk storage, GPU and RDMA networking. The cluster is currently running the full-fledged Hortonworks Hadoop distribution (HDP) as well as the PostgreSQL and MongoDB servers.
Each research student decides, with their supervisor, a programme of research training for the year. In addition to department-led activities, the University makes available a variety of other training opportunities.
Students’ training needs are met by a combination of the departmental subject-specific graduate programme and the College's Generic Skills Programme which is based on Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework and offers a varied mix of workshops delivered by both internal experts and external facilitators, as well as a number of online courses.
The College subscribes to the Epigeum ‘Research Skills Master Programme’ which offers 18 on-line courses on diverse topics and is especially valued by students remote from the College. The Generic Skills Programme has separate discipline strands where appropriate, and is supplemented by provision at Faculty level. For research students who intend to make a career in HE we offer the INSTIL programme which develops skills as a university teacher. This course is accredited by the Higher Education Academy. Research students may also attend appropriate masters or undergraduate courses.
Teaching assistantships are available, which are a good way of earning experience in teaching. Teaching assistants follow the inSTIL training programme and automatically qualify for Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy after successful completion. This is a direct benefit to those who wish to make careers in the university sector in the UK and abroad.
You can enroll for a three-year research programme leading to an MPhil/PhD. Full-time study is recommended for this option, which may be commenced at any time during the academic year (normally at the beginning of a term), but part-time study is also possible, especially if you are employed.
Alternatively, we offer an one-year MSc by Research, which is not a taught programme, but rather a mini-PhD, with a project forming the largest part of the degree.
For further information, contact our Admissions Team.
How to apply
Candidates should apply using the University's online application system. Please read carefully all the information on the application process including English language requirements.
You will need to upload the following items:
- a research topic/area and the name of a potential supervisor – check the tab "Research Topics" below for an overview of our staff's research interests and topics in which they typically supervise PhDs.
- a covering letter describing your reasons for wishing to pursue a PhD in the proposed area, incuding why you think that you are qualified to do research in that area;
- a research proposal where you expand on your research topic: why the topic is important, what is the state of the art in the area, and what are the research contributions that you would like to make beyond the state of the art – this does not need to be too long but it should contain enough information for us to make a judgement on the viability of carrying out such a research project in the Department;
- a current CV;
- any documents proving your actual or expected degree classifications, as well as results of any previous University examinations;
- two academic references.