The School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EEECS) aims to enhance the way we use technology in communication, data science, computing systems, cybersecurity, power electronics, intelligent control, and many related areas.
You’ll be part of a dynamic doctoral research environment and will study alongside students from over 40 countries worldwide; we supervise students undertaking research in key areas of computer science, including computing systems, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. As part of a lively community of over 100 full-time and part-time research students, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your research potential in a vibrant research community that prioritises the cross-fertilisation of ideas and innovation in the advancement of knowledge.
Many PhD studentships attract scholarships and top-up supplements. PhD programmes provide our students with the opportunity to acquire extensive training in research techniques.
Within the School, we have a number of specialist research centres including a Global Research Institute, the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) specialising in Cyber Security, Wireless Innovation and Data Science and scalable computing.
Computer Science Highlights
Queen’s researchers have strong links with the local industry, which boasts a rich mix of local startups and multinationals. Belfast is the second fastest-growing region in the UK in terms of Knowledge Economy activity (Northern Ireland Economy Report, 2018).
The state-of-the-art £14m Computer Science Building and the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology offer bespoke research environments.
Internationally Renowned Experts
You will be working under the supervision of leading international academic experts.
Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in relation to the wide range of research activities undertaken within the School and there are many resources available including:
A wide range of personal development and specialist training courses offered through the Personal Development Programme;
Access to the Queen's University Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme;
Office accommodation with access to computing facilities and support to attend conferences for full-time PhD students.
Research within the School is organised into research themes combining strengths by working together on major projects, in many cases in collaboration with key technology companies.
ECIT brings together internationally recognised research groups specialising in key areas of advanced digital and communications technology.
PhD Opportunities are available in a wide range of computer science subjects, aligned to the specific expertise of our PhD supervisors.
Queen’s is a leader in commercial impact and one of the five highest-performing universities in the UK for intellectual property commercialisation. We have created over 80 spin-out companies. Three of these - Kainos, Andor Technology and Fusion Antibodies - have been publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Queen’s has strong collaborative links with industry in Northern Ireland, and internationally. It has a strong funding track record with EPSRC and the EC H2020 programme.
The research profile produced by the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) graded 80 per cent of our research activity as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', confirming the School's reputation as an internationally leading department.
For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.
There is no specific course content as such. You are expected to take research training modules that are supported by the School which focus on quantitative and qualitative research methods. You are also expected to carry out your research under the guidance of your supervisor.
Over the course of study, you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School.
You will normally register, in the first instance, as an ‘undifferentiated PhD student’ which means that you have satisfied staff that you are capable of undertaking a research degree. The decision as to whether you should undertake a PhD is delayed until you have completed ‘differentiation’.
Differentiation takes place about 8-9 months after registration for full-time students and about 16-18 months for part-time students: You are normally asked to submit work to a panel of up to two academics and this is followed up with a formal meeting with the ‘Differentiation Panel’. The Panel then make a judgement about your capacity to continue with your study. Sometimes students are advised to revise their research objectives or to consider submitting their work for an MPhil qualification rather than a doctoral qualification.
To complete with a doctoral qualification you will be required to submit a thesis of approx 80,000 words and you will be required to attend a viva voce [oral examination] with an external and internal examiner to defend your thesis.
A PhD programme runs for 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time. Students can apply for writing up year should it be required.
The PhD is open to both full and part-time candidates and is often a useful preparation for a career within academia or consultancy.
Full-time students are often attracted to research degree programmes because they offer an opportunity to pursue in some depth an area of academic interest.
A part-time research degree is an exciting option for professionals already working in the education field who are seeking to extend their knowledge on an issue of professional interest. Often part-time candidates choose to research an area that is related to their professional responsibilities.
If you meet the Entry Requirements, the next step is to check whether we can supervise research in your chosen area. We only take students to whom we can offer expert research supervision from one of our academic staff. Therefore, your research question needs to engage with the research interests of one of our staff.
Assessment processes for the Research Degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present write up their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.
This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.
The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.
Supervisors will offer feedback on the research work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.
Full-time PhD students will have access to shared office space and access to a desk with a personal computer and internet access.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for the English language for visa purposes.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level.
Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
Northern Ireland (NI) 1: £4,500
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2: £4,500
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1: £4,500
EU Other 3: £22,000
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however, this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however, this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22 and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How to Apply
Identify your Research Area: When you are considering your research question or proposal, identify a suitable research centre or School at Queen’s that aligns with your project.
Check the requirements: Check that you meet, or expect to meet the academic and, if applicable, English language requirements for your programme. Also bear in mind that if you are applying for funding, there might be an application deadline. So keep an eye to see if your programme has a closing date for applications too.
Speak to your supervisor: If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions. If you have your own research idea, contact the relevant School to discuss it with us. If you are unsure of who to contact, find someone in your field of interest and use the 'make a PhD enquiry' button. You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.
Finalise your Research Proposal: When you have spoken with an academic at Queen's and have developed your research ideas, it is time to finalise your research proposal. View our guide to writing a research proposal.
Apply: Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions.
Get your decision: When we've made a decision, we'll send you an email that will advise you to log on to the Postgraduate Applications Portal to view the decision.