Funded Scholarships: Research Degrees

If you are interested in any of the below scholarships, please apply via our normal Programme links (Full time or Part Time) but ensure that you very clearly indicate on your cover letter or personal statement that you would like to be considered for a particular scholarship.


PhD Studentship: Categorical Semantics of Probabilistic Graphical Models

Project description

Scientists in diverse areas of computer science (and beyond) use graphical formalisms in order to specify and study systems based on interacting components. Graphics outperforms textual information in highlighting connectivity and resource-exchange between parts of a system. This makes diagrammatic languages particularly effective in the analysis of subtle interactions as those found in cyber-physical, concurrent and quantum systems. 

In recent years a uniform mathematical approach to these formalisms emerged, based on the language of monoidal category theory and informed by the compositional methods of programming language semantics. Whereas this perspective have been fruitfully applied to systems appearing in various contexts (especially quantum and control theory), it is at a preliminary stage when it comes to the analysis of probabilistic graphical models, such as Bayesian networks. 

The surge of interest in machine learning and probabilistic programming makes these models particularly relevant to current research. This project will develop a compositional semantics for probabilistic graphical models based on symmetric monoidal categories. Algorithms and methodologies for tasks such as Bayesian learning and inference will be analysed within this new framework, which hopefully will provide a more transparent mathematical foundation and formal proof methods.

The project’s trajectory is not set in stone. Categorical approaches to network diagrams constitute an exciting and vital research areas, with possibility of connecting to diverse research fields. For instance, the formal methodologies developed in the initial stage of the project could rather inspire developments in the formal semantics of cyber-physical systems and digital circuits. This will depend by how the student’s research interest develops.

Skills and Prerequisites

This is a project in theoretical computer science. It requires an interest in using the mindset of category theory to explore (Bayesian) probability theory. If the candidate is not already familiar with category theory, at least some background in basic logic (syntax and semantics) is required. Other useful background knowledge is denotational semantics of programming languages, formal language theory (regular languages, automata) and universal algebra. 


University College London (UCL) offers a fully funded scholarship to undertake this project in the Programming Principles, Logic and Verification Group, for a full three years, extensible to a fourth year if necessary. The scholarship will be awarded to the student who meets the UCL admissions criteria for the UCL Department of Computer Science PhD programme and who best suits the project. 

The main supervisor will be Dr. Fabio Zanasi. Applicants are encouraged to visit Zanasi’s webpage ( for getting an idea of his research activities, and to contact him by email for any enquiry/expression of interest. The starting date can be negotiated but should be between February 2018 and September 2018.

During the PhD, the student will be encouraged to visit the supervisor's collaborators (located in UK, Italy and the Netherlands) both for training and research purposes.


To apply click here and indicate your interest on your cover letter


PhD Studentship:Machine learning based computational methods for design of novel self-evolving e-learning systems

The project’s overall aim is to do a study into human learning trends to drive development of novel e-learning software systems that provide learning environment and corporate training within organisations. The goal is to develop a completely new approach in designing e-learning systems using a machine learning based computational methods, to learn a mapping between the learning material (content, form, delivery) and its effectiveness in the learning process of the user.

The project involves analysing large data set of online learning data from companies such as Facebook, Vodafone, Spotify etc, to learn trends using data analysis techniques such as machine learning. The business partner in the project is FUSE Universal (, the second largest provider of online learning in Europe. The prospective researcher is expected to work at UCL but also to collaborate and spend some time in FUSE Universal (based in London), which is where the data is stored. 

The projected is funded for 4 years with a tax free stipend and fees paid at the Home/EU rate. 

Please be aware that due to restrictions placed on the funding this scholarship is only open to applicants from the UK or EU. 

The project is supervised by Dr Ivana Drobnjak


To apply click here and indicate your interest on your cover letter.

Scholarship Nominations: ORS, GRS and CSC

The Department of Computer Science is able to nominate up to two applicants for the UCL Graduate Research Scholarship (GRS) and Overseas Research Scholarship (ORS). We are also able to nominate one applicant for the Joint UCL - Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) Scholarship.


To be considered for these scholarships, please submit your application no later than Friday 15th December 2017


To apply click here and indicate your interest on your cover letter.

PhD Studentship (x3): European research Council EPIC (Evolving Program Improvement Collaborators) project

The UCL CREST centre ( is offering up to three fully funded PhD studentships in the general area of Search Based Software Engineering (SBSE ( to start September 2018.

The studentships will be on the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced fellowship grant EPIC (Evolving Program Improvement Collaborators) project, held by Mark Harman.

The key idea is that evolutionary computation can evolve software  improvement collaborators; automated tools that offer specifically-evolved, explained and experimentally-justified  advice on software improvements that optimise operational performance, while maintaining and/or extending functionality.

This "Epi-Collaborator" will make suggestions, including transplantation of code from a donor system to a host, grafting of entirely new features grown (evolved) by the Epi-Collaborator, and identification and optimisation of tuneable deep parameters. A key feature (and an important scientific and technical challenge for the project) is that these suggestions need to be backed by automatically-constructed quantitative evidence that justifies, explains and documents improvements.

EPIC thereby aims to introduce a new way of developing software, as a collaboration between human and machine, integrated into typically continuous integration code review repo frameworks. Rather than seeking to replace human intelligence with artificial intelligence, EPIC thus seeks to understand and exploit the complementary strengths of each: humans' domain and contextual insights and machines' ability to intelligently search large search spaces.

The EPIC project and these studentships are funded by the award of an ERC Advanced Grant to Mark Harman, who will supervise the students, together with a supervisory team, including Dr. Federica Sarro ( and Dr. Earl Barr (, both also eminent software engineering researchers at UCL.

Prof Harman is a professor of Software Engineering at UCL but also an engineering manager at Facebook London (, where he manages the team working on the application of SBSE to automated software test design. Prof. Harman’s joint appointments foster the collaboration between academic research and industry application, where students may see the impact of their research at Facebook scale.

The closing date for applications is 27th April 2018.

Any enquiries to Professor Harman (

To apply click here and indicate your interest on your cover letter.


PhD Studentship: Networking and Systems

A PhD studentship is available at UCL (Department of Computer Science), under the supervision of Dr. Stefano Vissicchio.The studentship is fully funded for 4 years. 

The position is not bound to any specific grant or project.

We therefore invite applications from talented, highly motivated students eager to work on any topic of interest for the group, including modern network architectures and paradigms like SDN and NFV; distributed, centralised and partially centralised network management systems; inter- and intra-domain routing; network monitoring, testing and security; Internet measurements.


Prospective PhD students must apply through the standard UCL admission process, in which a committee of academics drawn from the breadth of the department evaluates the entire pool of applicants.

The next deadline for applications is January 5th.

More detailed information about the application process are reported at 

Interested candidates are also welcome to contact Dr. Stefano Vissicchio at for further information, and to discuss about more concrete project proposals.


Please apply here indicate clearly on your personal statement or research proposal that you are applying for this studentship specifically.