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Computer Science

Research Degrees

By joining us as a research student you become part of a vibrant and challenging community of researchers, undertaking research that demonstrates both originality and significance. As a Computer Science Research Postgraduate you will also be involved in some aspects of teaching and administration within the Department.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

We seek to recruit, to inspire and to graduate some of the very best postgraduate students in research. We do this through a wide ranging PhD programme, with research that covers the full range of our research expertise. Our research is supported by a community of scholars, from the UK and overseas, and a resource framework that is comparable with other world class centres of learning.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) usually takes three and a half years to complete. Upon arrival at Computer Science in Durham, you will be assigned academic supervisors who are international experts in their field.

Our research students receive the majority of their generic training via University-level courses, Department-specific research training by academics and technical staff, as well as both student and academic seminars. As a PhD student, you will be a member of one of Research Groups in the Department and monitored through frequent meetings with your supervisors.

Throughout your time with us, you will contribute to Research Group activities such as seminar programmes and discussions about research topics. Moreover, you will receive many opportunities to contribute to teaching and developing skills of use beyond your PhD.

All students present their work at events such as our annual Research Day, providing excellent experience of presenting to an audience of peers and academics.

The University's postgraduate prospectus contains further information.

Master of Science (by research) MSc

In the MSc programme, you have the option of attending advanced taught courses across all topics covered by Computer Science. You are not directly examined in these courses but through a research thesis and the choice of which courses to take will be in conjunction with your academic advisers.

Our Department's research evolves in relation to the changing directions in the discipline but aligns with the Computer Science research groups - full details can be found by exploring our Research web pages.

Research students receive the majority of their generic training via University-level courses, but Department-specific research training is offered by academics and technical staff, as well as through both student and academic seminars.

Entry Requirements

For entry to the PhD you will be required to have achieved a 2:1 Bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject, from a recognised university (or equivalent).

Overseas Students please see equivalent entry requirements and any English language requirements on our country pages . The information is split up by country, so if you do not see your country listed or have further questions, please contact the International office.

Language Requirements

The University's minimal language requirements for postgraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science, for students whose first language is not English can be found here.


You must provide two references, at least one of which must be an academic reference. The references should be on letterhead, signed and dated. These can be uploaded to the online application system or emailed directly to directly from your referees institutional email address indicating which programme you have applied for.

Please note it is the applicant's responsibility to request references from their referees.

How to apply

An application for a place

  1. We strongly encourage you to make informal contact with an individual member of the academic staff to discuss your application and research proposal at an early stage. The end point should be a strong research proposal that both you and your prospective supervisor are happy with.
  2. You must now make a formal application to the University. The required form is completed online, and along with your completed application you should also have ready copies of certificates of academic qualifications and, if applying for a research degree, an outline research topic. If your qualifications, references and research proposal are satisfactory and we can provide appropriate supervision and resources we will support your admission to the University. We aim to let you know of our decision within four weeks.
  3. Durham is a collegiate university and you need to apply on the form for membership of a College or Society. Most postgraduates join Ustinov College, for which there is no fee; details and fees for the other Colleges and Societies are in the University Postgraduate Prospectus. Include your choice of college on the application form.
  4. The University processes your application and sends you a formal response.

Securing sufficient funding

Once you have been offered a place at the University you will need to arrange funding to cover the cost of your full period of study at Durham.

Overseas applications

If you are an overseas student, it is particularly important that you:

  • Make your application early online
  • Provide a full curriculum vitae (in English) and an English language transcript of the degree/diploma documentation
  • Offer evidence of proficiency in spoken and written English, usually by a TOEFL or IELTS certificate to meet the University minimum requirement
  • Give the names and addresses of two referees
  • Send a letter, normally from a bank, confirming that your course fees will be paid by you or your sponsor.

Fees and finance

We offer detailed guidance on fees and finance and are happy to answer any questions about this for you. Students must also set aside money to cover accommodation and living expenses, plus travelling and accommodation expenses incurred during fieldwork. The Colleges also require appropriate financial guarantees before issuing formal acceptances.