Computing Research Degrees - PhD

Course Code:
PR0111 (Full-time) PR0154 (Part-time) PR0170 (Distance Learning)
Attendance:
Full Time, Part Time
Starting:
February 2019, May 2019
Campus:

The School welcomes enquiries relating to hardware of telecommunications, computer networks, games technology, electronic engineering and software engineering. Areas of research in which staff are currently active include gaming, e-business, home automation, learning technologies, intelligent systems, security and forensics, robotics and cloud computing.

Contact the School for more information, or call us on +44 (0)121 331 6400.

What's covered in the course?

A PhD, “Doctor of Philosophy”, is the highest-level qualification, based on individual and detailed research, resulting in a thesis of about 80,000 words.

The School offers specialist supervision if you wish to pursue research programmes for the award of PhD. You may undertake your research either full-time or part-time. If you are accepted for PhD research you will be assigned to a Director of Studies (your main supervisor) and at least one second supervisor. There will be a programme of training workshops and seminars to support you.

As a research student you will exposed to a versatile range of academics. You will be encouraged to take part in various activities, seminars, to publish in collaboration with your supervisors and to take part in research conferences nationally and (where possible) internationally. The Faculty as a whole also has a growing population of research students who organise social and academic events.

Why Choose Us?

  • Expert staff supervisors, keen to help their students succeed
  •  Encouragement and support for you to publish your work
  • Opportunities to support and teach other students, including bringing your new research into their education

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 25 November 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

School of Computing and Digital Technology

Discover the School of Computing and Digital Technology

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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Teaching Excellence Excellence Framework

Birmingham City University has been awarded silver status for its quality of teaching in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

We are members of:

WISE member logo2 WISE members inspire girls to choose maths, physics and computing.

Current interests

The School welcomes enquiries relating to hardware of telecommunications, computer networks, games technology, electronic engineering and software engineering. Areas of research in which staff are currently active include gaming, e-business, home automation, learning technologies, intelligent systems, security and forensics, robotics and cloud computing.

Other interests include:

  • Machine Learning
  • Evolutionary Computation
  • Multi-Agent Systems
  • Knowledge Engineering

We find it most effective to work with inquirers to focus their research ideas before a formal application is made.  You can contact either individual staff or the Faculty’s Director of Research Degrees, Professor Peter Larkham.

Our research

Take a look at our research hub to learn more about our current research areas.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Feb 2019 FT 3-4 years £4,195
PT 4-7 years £2,098
May 2019 FT 3-4 years £4,195
PT 4-7 years £2,098

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Feb 2019 FT 3-4 years £12,000
May 2019 FT 3-4 years £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Entry Requirements

PhD applicants will normally be expected to hold a Master's degree in a relevant area.

You will need to complete the research degree application form and provide a statement of your initial research ideas (we advise between 1,000 and 2,000 words, with full referencing to relevant literature).

As each PhD is an individual research project, it is impossible to specify precisely what additional costs (fieldwork, travel etc) may be incurred. Any potential costs should be identified in your application.

Although the School and Faculty has some limited financial support towards the direct costs of research (e.g. attendance at conferences and workshops, etc.) this is allocated on a competitive basis and you may need to supplement this. 

A day in the life of a PhD student

If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies. Read more in Karen's blog.

The PhD Journey

Full-time students are expected to complete within 3-4 years, whilst part-time students may take 4-7 years. In your first year (two years for PT students) you will spend time reviewing the field, refining your research proposal and projected plan, and developing key topic-specific research skills. You will be supported in this through attendance at the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice, which runs for the first semester of your studies.

Your progress is reviewed every 6 months, with alternating ‘light-touch’ written reviews with your supervisors and annual reviews involving a written paper, presentation and interview with an independent panel of experienced supervisors.

Your second year (years 3 and 4 for PT students) is likely to be spent undertaking in-depth research (data collection and analysis) in your chosen area, with the third year (years 5-6 for PT students) involving writing up your results and presenting them in a suitable format (usually a written thesis of some 80,000 words).

Once you have submitted your thesis the examiners usually need 6-8 weeks to read it before the viva (oral) examination, after which there is likely to be a period for corrections / rewriting before successful completion and award of your PhD.

Throughout your studies we aim to develop your research skills, and support you in presenting your work through publication and conferences. We expect your participation in the range of research-related activities within the Faculty, contributing to building our research community. You many get opportunities to teach and support other students. We also encourage you to think of your career path and development in the longer term, as well as the first post-PhD job.

How the PhD is assessed

Your progress is reviewed every 6 months, with alternating ‘light-touch’ written reviews with your supervisors and annual reviews involving a written paper, presentation and interview with an independent panel of experienced supervisors.  The annual reviews will assess whether you continue with your PhD studies, or whether lack of progress means that you should transfer to an MPhil, or withdraw from your study.

Once you have submitted your thesis the examiners usually need 6-8 weeks to read it before the viva (oral) examination. The viva commonly lasts between 1 and 3 hours and questions can be wide-ranging about your research, how it fits into your discipline, and its contribution to knowledge and impact.  The examiners’ recommendation is based on a combination of the thesis and viva performance.

Following the viva there is likely to be a period for corrections / rewriting before successful completion and award of your PhD.

PGCert in Research Practice

For the first six months of your PhD you will undertake the PGCert in Research Practice, which is a taught and compulsory part of the PhD programme. You will meet with your supervisors and attend classes every week. This is an essential part of the PhD which will help you to get your research started and set you up for the rest of your PhD journey. The PGCert programme covers literature review and research methods which are specific to your faculty.

The value of a PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry or commerce. 

For some jobs a PhD is virtually a necessity – in the academic world. In many professional roles it is an indicator of personal commitment, critical and creative thinking, personal management and ability to work with and even manage others, and is a step to promotion and higher-level, often managerial, roles.

After the PhD

From the very start of your PhD journey we encourage you to think about what happens after you graduate: how the PhD will contribute to your career plan from identifying and getting your first job to beyond.  We use the VITAE research career development framework to help you plan for your future.

Placements

Some PhD topics may allow you the opportunity to work with other institutions and companies as part of your research.  This could be as a placement, but this is rare for our PhDs – agreements to work with a company to collect data are much more common. 

Occasionally, external funding or contacts have provided placement opportunities not directly related to the PhD research: while these contribute to your knowledge, skills and CV, they do interrupt your studies.

You can discuss your options with your potential supervisors, if you feel a placement would benefit your research. 

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. This course will be taught at Millennium Point at the City Centre Campus.

As a student at the School of Computing and Digital Technology, you have access to networked laboratories equipped to industry standards and running the latest software, giving you the best possible introduction to the technologies you will encounter in the world of work.

Dedicated facilities are provided for systems analysis, computer networks, programming in a wide range of languages, artificial intelligence, modelling and visual programming, e-commerce and .net environments, and business intelligence, as well as supporting the application areas of mechatronics, games technology, electronics and computer forensics.

Computer networking

The laboratories are well-equipped for all our computer networking courses, as well as specialist areas for practical work such as voice-over internet protocol (VoIP), forensic and ethical hacking technologies, wireless and mobile technologies and radio frequency identification technologies to name but a few.

Software development and computer programming

There are a number of open access, software development and computer programming
laboratories that can be used to develop systems and programmes, including database management systems such as MySQL, to name but a few.

Systems laboratories

Our embedded systems laboratories are used to develop real-time systems, such as specialist hardware training and development resources, and industrial-standard software development and simulation tools. These include microcontroller software and robotics design and development, to name but a few.

Electronic Systems

Electronic systems

To underpin the basic principles of electronic systems, we have a well-equipped laboratory of general and specialist test and measurement kits, including powered prototyping development boards, dual power supplies, frequency generators and counters and digital multi-meters to name but a few.

Forensic computing

Our successful development of forensic computing has led to a specialist forensics laboratory that is fully equipped with essential hardware and software for this sensitive area of study. The laboratory includes high-spec PC’s with built-in multi interface Tableau write blockers, EnCase and FTK computer forensic software and steganography detection and analysis software, to name but a few.

More on our facilities

Professor Peter Larkham

Professor of Planning

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society, Peter teaches on postgraduate courses in built environment subjects, and has contributed to a number of academic journal papers and other publications. He also supervises at PhD level.

Staff expertise

Professor Peter Larkham is the Faculty’s Director of Research Degrees as well as being Professor of Planning specialising in urban change and post-war reconstruction.  He has supervised over 15 PhDs and MPhils, and examined nearly 30 – so is well placed to advise potential applicants.

Each PhD student has a supervision team (normally a Director of Study and a second supervisor) who have both experience of supervising research degrees through to completion, and the necessary subject-specific expertise. Therefore every member of our academic staff is a potential research degree supervisor because they will be contributing as part of a team.