Duration: 4 years full time or 5 years part time
Institution code: R72
UK fees*: £4,712
International/EU fees**: £26,300
Computer Science at Royal Holloway is one of the world's leading centres of research in advanced areas of theoretical and applied computer science.
We are renowned in particular for our research excellence in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Distributed Computing. Our research expertise is shaping the future of those key areas for society and the economy.
In the latest Research Excellence Frameworks (REF, 2021), we ranked 17th in the UK computer science departments for the quality of our research (THE, REF institutions ranked by subject, 2022).
Collaborative research is carried out in many different fields with companies and organisations, 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 across the world, and the department has earned a Bronze Athena SWAN award for best practice in equal opportunities and our inclusive environment.
In addition to the information below, check our separate page on the topics in which we supervise.
Research facilities and environment
Research students in Computer Science join a lively research community and become fully involved in the research activities of the department, sharing their successes. Many of our research students 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.
Regular departmental research seminars include talks by professionals in a variety of application areas, 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. Royal Holloway provides dedicated social space for graduate students, facilitating inter-departmental links.
Major research topics include Algorithms and Complexity, Bioinformatics and Medical Applications, Machine Learning, Planning, Cyber-Physical Systems, Distributed Computing, and Type Theory and Applications.
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.
You will have 24/7 access to dedicated on-site facilities and equipment.
Students who are admitted to this programme are initially registered on a MPhil programme. Before the end of their second year of studies they will have an upgrade meeting; if successful, they then become registered on the PhD Computer Science programme.
To be awarded a PhD Computer Science degree, students must submit their thesis, and pass their viva examination with one internal and one external examiner.
A good first degree or masters in a cognate discipline to computer science, and relevant to the proposed research project. We are also prepared to consider candidates with extensive practical or industrial experience that would be relevant to the project. As a guideline, English proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5 is expected.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
- TOEFL ib: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
Our graduates have an excellent track record of finding employment. PhD graduates from this department are now in senior positions in both academia and industry, including senior research managers at both Facebook and Amazon.
During term-time, we have weekly talks by external speakers from industry: these occasions are useful for graduate students to make external contacts and to learn of opportunities. In addition to the support provided by The Careers and Employability Service, the department has a coordinator to advise on career development and job opportunities.
Fees & funding
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £4,712
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £26,300
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.
All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such rise will be made clear on the relevant coursefinder listing for your year of entry, at the earliest opportunity. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the UKRI website.
** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.
Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your research degree. The upper limit of any such rise will be made clear on the relevant coursefinder listing for your year of entry, at the earliest opportunity.