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PhD application instructions

Instructions for applying to the PhD program in LFCS at the University of Edinburgh

Are you interested in studying foundational or theoretical topics in computer science at LFCS?

LFCS covers a wide range of theoretical computer science topics, including algorithms and complexity, concurrency, logic, programming languages, semantics, software engineering foundations, systems biology, security, and verification. 

Roope Kaivola (LFCS PhD, 1997) received the 2013 Microsoft Research Verified Software Milestone Award for work on verification of Intel's Core i7 CPU

The School of Informatics also has PhD programmes managed by other research institutes that cover other topics; if you want to pursue a PhD in these areas, please consult other School or Institute application information.

This page supplements the generic School application instructions with information specific to prospective applicants to LFCS.  Most postgraduate research students in PFCS are in the 3-year PhD programme.  While we have attempted to cover everything relevant to typical PhD applications, these instructions do not cover MRes, MPhil, or taught MSc applications. For more information about these options, or answers to frequently asked questions about the general application process, please follow the links at the bottom of this page.


There are no fixed application deadlines for a PhD within LFCS (or Informatics in general), however, applicants may want to consider the deadline dates for funded Scholarships, and make sure to apply a bit before those deadlines (in December and February, see below).   Regardless of scholarships/funding issues, we would recommend that you apply before late-March and/or early-April if you hope to start your research in September/October of the coming academic year.

For UK applicants (and EU applicants who have at least 3 years full residency in the UK immediately before application) there may be funded EPSRC studentships still available through the months of March-June; for EU and Global applicants, there are limited options, and the deadlines are as listed below.  

Apart from these from time-to-time individual faculty members may have funding to support a PhD student on a specific project - in those cases, there will usually be a direct advertisement sent out, which will list a closing date, or state that applications will be considered until the position is filled. More information about application deadlines for funding can be found here:

Key dates

Offers of admission and funding are typically issued starting in March.  We are sometimes able to make early decisions for candidates who have received competing offers or who need an offer of admission in order to apply for funding.  If this is the case please inform us of the situation.

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All applications for PhD study in LFCS should be made from the following form:

LFCS 3-year PhD programme application (for entry date September 2019)

We should also mention that some applicants for "LFCS topics" may fit into one of our two "Central Doctoral Training" PhD programmes, which have a larger amount of funding (and hence can support more students).  See below for more details.

Before filling the form, we suggest applicants take the following steps:

  1. Explore research groups, topics, and funded projects
  2. Contact prospective supervisor(s)
  3. Choose a PhD programme
  4. Apply for admission through EUCLID
  5. Apply for relevant funding sources


Explore research groups, topics, and funded projects

You may already have a clear idea of what research you'd like to do, or even a specific project in mind (for example, if you are responding to an advertisement about a funded project). Or you may be interested in a broad research area. Either way, it is worth having a look at the pages describing research projects and groups Informatics, and the research pages of individuals or groups, to get a sense of what activities are already under way: is there a lot already going on related to your interests? If not, that may mean that you'd be better off considering study elsewhere.

For LFCS, there is a lot of information online already about the research interests of potential supervisors and research groups:

PhD research topics

People in LFCS and their research interests

Short research presentations

LFCS research groups and projects


It is also worthwhile to look at the following page that lists funded PhD projects. These are projects for which the prospective supervisor already has the funding and needs to find the best student to do the project.  The projects change from month to month, and they may not necessarily include "LFCS relevant" topics.   If your background and your interests are a good match for a project on this list, it may be much easier to obtain a funded PhD position this way - if not, though, be aware that often the supervisor has limited flexibility to change the research topic of the project.

Funded projects in Informatics

Applicants interested in studying at LFCS should also consider applying to one of Edinburgh's Centres for Doctoral Training.  LFCS staff sometimes supervise students in the Data Science CDT, and much of the information on this page is relevant to applicants to that programme (in particular, the importance of discussing your interests with possible supervisors).  The application processes and deadlines for these PhD programmes are different than the regular process described on this page, so please consult the CDT sites for information about applying to these programmes. 

Data Science CDT

In addition, you can find a list of all potential supervisors and their research interests (and links to the other institute web pages) here:

Informatics research directory

Contact prospective supervisor(s)

You should discuss your interests and background with a possible supervisor before applying.  This will help you make sure that the specific PhD programme is right for you, and might also help you refine your Research Proposal.  The School has good advice on contacting a prospective supervisor here:

Advice on contacting prospective research supervisors

Sending your CV or other application materials to a possible supervisor does not (on its own) constitute an application for admission or funding. You need to submit the formal applications.


Choose a PhD programme 

The School of Informatics has over 80 faculty, and is organized into several smaller "research institutes" focused on different research themes (although some are also called "centers" or "laboratories"). Each Institute has its own PhD program, and when you apply to do a PhD here, you actually apply to one of these programmes. It is important to identify the most appropriate Institute to process your application, to avoid delays in your application reaching the most appropriate person to evaluate it. You can find the list of all Institutes and their research areas here:

Institutes and research topics

If you want to work on topics such as programming languages, databases, semantics, logic, theory of computation, algorithms and complexity, security and privacy, etc., then you should probably apply to the LFCS PhD program.   However, if not, it makes sense to take a close look at the other institutes (and faculty belonging to those institutes) in order to see if one of those is a good fit.

If you are interested in research that bridges more than one Institute, that's fine: working across the institute boundaries is common. You still need to pick one when you apply, but it might be a good idea to contact multiple prospective supervisors to discuss which programme would be the best fit.


Apply for admission through EUCLID

Once you have done everything suggested above, you are ready to start the formal application process. To do this you need to use EUCLID, the University central application system. Specifically, to apply for admission to the Informatics LFCS PhD program, with a start date of September 2019, follow this link:

LFCS 3-year PhD programme application (entry date September 2019)

if you want to apply for something else in LFCS, including a MPhil, MRes, part-time degree, or another start date, then go to the LFCS postgraduate research application page:

LFCS Postgraduate Degrees

If you are interested in applying to the CDT in Data Science, you should follow the instructions here:

Apply to the Data Science CDT


You can also apply to other Informatics-related PhD programmes, or apply using a different start date, starting from the central Course and Degree Finder page:

Course and Degree Finder: Computing & Informatics


If you have been in touch with a prospective supervisor, it may be helpful to list their name on the application, and to send them an email to let them know that you've applied (giving your UUN, an id of the form s19nnnnn that is your username on the system.)


Apply for relevant funding sources

To be considered for all available University funding sources, applicants must complete additional funding applications depending on nationality and funding needs.  Many funding sources pay a stipend of about £14,553 and tuition fees of £4,195 for for students of UK or EU nationality.  University tuition for non-EU ("overseas") students is significantly higher (£18,100) so overseas applicants need to apply for additional funding to cover the difference.

The School of Informatics has a number of EPSRC "DTA awards" which fund full fees and stipend to students who are either British or EU, and who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately prior to the planned study.  You do not need to submit a scholarship form for those, you will be considered automatically. 

For most other scholarships, you will need to have submitted the PhD application in advance (giving a few days for it to become live in the University system).

To apply for stipend (living costs) and basic fees, all applicants should:

  • Investigate projects or subject areas for which funded positions are available, and discuss their suitability with the supervisor in charge of the funding: Funded projects in Informatics
  • Apply for the Principal's Career Development Scholarship (deadline is 1st February, 2019)

    Principal's Career Development Scheme

    This may be worthwhile even if you are interested in a specific research grant-funded studentship or project that would pay UK/EU fees, in case there are several applicants interested in the same project.

  • If you are a "Global" student (not from the EU or UK), you should also apply for the Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship (deadline is 1st February, 2019).  You will need to apply for the Principal's scholarship *also*.

    Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship

  • Investigate other scholarships available to you. The University maintains a list here:

    Scholarships for international students

    There may also be other sources not listed there.

To be considered for full funding, overseas candidates should in addition:
    • Apply for the Informatics Global Research Scholarship (deadlines December 8 and February 1; apply for the earlier deadline for an earlier decision)
      Informatics Global research Scholarship
    • Chinese students may apply to the China Scholarships Council program.  You need to make this application yourself to CSC as the School of Informatics does not coordinate these applications for applicants (some other Schools in the University do).  Note that the CSC does not fund all costs, and you should discuss options for making-up the remaining money with your prospective supervisor.

      China Scholarships Council (this webpage gives a direct link to the CSC site in China)

    • Applicants from Commonwealth countries should investigate the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

      Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan

      You need to make contact with the representative in your home country to be nominated.
    • American students can apply for the Fulbright or Marshall scholarship programmes.

      Fulbright Scholarship

      Marshall Scholarship

      These provide at least one year of funding, which would be enough to cover the difference in fees if basic funding is already available.

These scholarship programmes are usually very competitive, but if you are a strong candidate it makes sense to apply for all for which you are eligible.  Some of these programmes require an offer of admission; please let us know if you need us to offer you admission so that you can apply for funding.


That's it!

Once your applications for admission and funding are complete, that's it. Decisions on funding and admission are typically made over March and April for applications submitted in the first round and on a rolling basis after that. 

If you are considering a competing offer of admission/funding to another PhD program or need an offer of admission in order to apply for additional funding, we may be able to respond to your application earlier.  If so, please let us know of the situation.

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More information

The current generic instructions for School of Informatics postgraduate admission and funding applications, and some frequently asked questions, can be found here:

How to apply

Frequently asked questions


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