Prospective Research Students

Studying HCI

Our students' research typically falls within one or more of our Research Domains. As our department sits between the Dept of Computer Science and the Psychology Division, some of our research students are registered in Computer Science or CS and some through Psychology and Language Sciences or PALS. There is more information about the structure of the MPhil/PhD programme for potential Psychology students on the PALS pages and for potential Computer students on the CS pages. There is little difference in structure between these programmes, except in some of the training opportunities, with workshops available through the Computer ScienceĀ  Dept and various specialised courses such as Statistics and Qualitative Methods available through the Psychology Division. Students are also able to take a limited number of modules from MSc courses in these and other departments across UCL. All students must present their work (as a poster or talk) at the annual UCLIC PhD Showcase (usually in June). Students must also prepare for a registration viva towards the end of their first year and an upgrade viva in their second year to upgrade from the MPhil to PhD.

image of students at prototypying workshop

PhD students are an integral part of our research team, each pursuing their individual research project within a vibrant, research-intensive environment. We have regular research seminars and working lunches, as well as impromptu social events. Students have access to facilities including an Interaction Research Lab with tools to facilitate building proto-type technologies, as well as two Usability labs with eye tracking equipment, motion capture equipment and biosensors. There is a range of technical assistance available when needed, as well as excellent library and computing facilities in and around UCL. Students are also strongly supported in developing a range of presenting and teaching skills and there are many opportunities across UCL to practice such skills, giving students confidence for their next steps.

Staff in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences and the Computer Science Department have expertise on a wide range of topics, so that students usually have little difficulty in finding someone who can give good advice. Furthermore, there are many networking opportunities with other depts in UCL and beyond, since UCLIC have links with the other Universities as well as partners in industry and the public sector, such as the BBC, Microsoft, various hospitals, as well as manufacturers of medical devices and other commercial organisations.

Practical Information


Before making an application, you should also meet the eligibility requirements as below. You should:

  • Have or expect to have a relevant first degree of 1st class or 2.1 standard, or a taught Master's degree, or equivalent for overseas degrees. You can check equivalent qualifications by country on the International Students pages.
  • Have a commitment to and demonstrated ability in research. Often your previous experience and performance, such as in an undergraduate or a Master's research project, will show whether research is right for you and you are right for research.
  • Applicants with other qualifications and sufficient relevant experience and background knowledge may be considered.
  • Overseas applicants also need to satisfy the English Language requirement (Good level). Please see the guide to English requirements for more information.


Fees for the next academic year (2021-22) are £5,525 Full-time and £2,765 Part-time for Home/UK students.

Fees for Overseas students are £26,680 Full-time and £13,350 Part-time (Overseas). Please note that this rate now applies to new starters from the EU. The fee rate for those with pre-settled and settled status is still TBC.

See also more information at UCLIC graduate propsectus.

How to Apply

Applicants may apply for specific advertised funded projects or they may apply to pursue their own research project. In deciding which department to formally apply through, you should consider your own academic background and also your research proposal might mean that you 'fit' more naturally into one department than the other. To apply through either dept, you must use the online UCL system. You can use the direct PALS routecode link, RRDPLSSUIC01 when applying through Psychology. RRDCOMSING01 is the routecode when applying through Computer Science, and there is more information about applying to Computer Science at the CS website, but it is the same UCL Select system.

Psychology students all start at the beginning of the academic year; Computer Science prefer students to start then, but will accept new students at other times of the year.

Please note that the Personal statement/Research Proposal is an extremely important part of your application. It should be 1-2 pages in length. You can submit a separate personal statement and research proposal as two documents. The research proposal should clearly state the research question, and its importance. Funded studentships seek to address a defined research question, but applicants pursuing their own research must consider this carefully. The proposal should then state the approach to be applied in the research to address the research question. Logical thinking, clear design of research studies, and relevant methodological knowledge are all key parts of a good research proposal. Where appropriate, the research proposal should explain how initial studies will lead on to further questions and studies in a coherent progression. The research proposal should be your own work. You should also give any details on why you think you are particularly suited for your chosen area of research. Please check out the UCL graduate degrees pages, where hopefully most of your questions should be answered, but please don't hestitate to contact us if you have any other queries. See also UCL guidance on contacting potential supervisors and how to prepare a research proposal.

Please email our postgraduate administrator, Louise Gaynor, when you have submitted your application so that we are aware of your application - this must include your full name and the reference number supplied to you in the confirmation email from Admissions/PRISM.

Another point to note is that we never make offers of places without receiving an official application and conducting a formal interview (which will involve the UCLIC postgraduate tutor, Dr Enrico Costanza, or equivalent from the relevant parent department). This holds however urgently you need a letter of support to submit with a funding application. Sorry!

Deadlines (for entry in Autumn 2021)

For those wishing to be considered for UCL scholarships (expected start: September 2021), you must apply by:

Fri 11th December 2020 for ORS/GRS

You must apply to UCLIC formally or be already registered at UCLIC before applying for a UCL scholarship through UCLIC - there is an additional step in this process. Please check out more information (see Step 2) for Overseas applicants or UK applicants . The lay summary and additional reference must also be received in UCLIC by Louise Gaynor by Fri 11th December 2020. Your referees must submit their references through the UCL application system (UCL Select) by Fri 8th January 2021 at the latest.

Mon 11th January 2021 for UBEL ESRC Doctoral Training Programme

This is the UCL, Bloomsbury and East London DTP, which offers studentships in a number of research pathways across 56 departments. The DTP's strategic vision is driven by a shared emphasis on interdisciplinary research with a number of different academic and non-acadmeic partners across London. You must apply to UCL formally (but do not need to have an offer of a PhD place secured) and also submit the preliminary application form by Mon 11th Jan 2021. If successful at this stage, you will be asked to complete a full application form by Sun 28th Feb 2021. More details about the application process are available at the UBEL DTP website. See also the UBEL application guidance.

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarships are also now open and the application process has been changed in order to mirror the GRS/ORS selection process. See the UCL Research Scholarships page for more details. Interested applicants should apply formally through UCL and contact Louise Gaynor by 12pm on Wed 13th January 2021.

Applicants seeking other sources of funding, applying for studentships or who have their own funding can apply outside these deadlines, but ideally before:

16th April 2021 with references received by 14th May 2021 via Computer Science

OR no later than

31st July 2021 via Psychology and Life Sciences

Please note that applications to be considered for the above funding streams will ONLY be accepted before the earlier deadlines.

Occasionally there may be funded studentships advertised that have their own deadlines. Applicants may be required to apply for such funded studentships to the department directly using a specialised form, which is accessible from the advert. Please check regularly on our Jobs pages if you are interested in applying for one of these. Successful candidate(s) then apply formally to UCL using the online system as above.

All other applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible, especially if you wish to be considered for other funding. Late applications have very little chance of getting funding from departmental or central college sources.

Overseas students must also notify us of any external funding or visa deadlines when applying so we can take these into account.

image of researchers installing components of interactive floor

Options and Career destinations

It is possible to work towards a PhD full-time over 3 - 4 years or part-time over 5 years. To be admitted as a research student, applicants usually obtain a source of funding from a recognised funding body or can apply for advertised funded studentships, but students must meet eligibility criteria in the latter case (ie., UK/EU applicant, resident in the UK) to avail of such funding. There are funding schemes available for Overseas students - see UCL's International Students pages and information about Funding schemes. Self-funded students will only be admitted on a full-time basis if they can provide evidence that they will have sufficient funds to support themselves for a minimum of three years.

Since UCLIC was founded in 2001, more than twenty two PhD students have successfully graduated. These graduates have gone on to work as postdoctoral researchers and lecturers within UCL and other Universities in the UK and beyond, such as the US, Mexico, Malaysia and Australia. Some have gone on to work in Industry and others provide consultancy on various aspects of human-computer interaction.


No funded opportunities available at the moment, but please keep looking!

  • If you are interested in the design of security systems from a user-centred perspective, you may apply for a studentship in SECReT, the national centre for PhD training in security and crime science, with a view to being supervised by a member of UCLIC staff. You should discuss your application with a member of UCLIC staff. Note deadlines and eligibility criteria on the SECReT website.
  • If you are interested in user-centred design for financial systems, you may apply for a studentship in the UK PhD Centre in Financial Computing. Again, you may discuss being supervised by a member of UCLIC staff, and should discuss your application before you submit it. You should note application deadlines and eligibility criteria on the FC website.
  • If your interest is in Virtual Environments, you may apply for an Engineering Doctorate in Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation. EngDs involve an industrial supervisor; we will work with you to identify a suitable organisation and develop your research proposal. You should note application deadlines and eligibility criteria on the EngD website.
  • When there are not specific funding opportunities, we will work with well qualified students to identify possible sources of funding. Most of these are highly competitive, and require application by the end of the calendar year prior to admission. For these opportunities, it is necessary to apply and be interviewed and offered a place before applications for funding can be made, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible if you wish to pursue this possibility. There is information about some of the possible sources of support as above, and for overseas students there are often sources of funding from the home country.

Student testimonials

image of Anna Rudnicka, former PhD student

I have had an amazing time at UCLIC. It is a truly innovative and stimulating environment. Studying here has not only helped me become a confident researcher but also broaden my horizons and given me lots of new ideas regarding my career.

  • Anna Rudnicka, former PhD student, currently a post-doctoral researcher in UCL Interaction Centre

image of Marta Cecchinato, former PhD student

I always wanted to do a PhD in UCLIC because I enjoyed the high quality researched that is produced from the group. When I started, not only were my expectations fully met, but they were exceeded. I was welcomed into a friendly and supportive environment, where I was given plenty of opportunities over the years to grow and experience what it means to be an active member of academia. Moving from Italy a week before I started the PhD and knowing the city only through tourist eyes, UCLIC soon became my home and my family. Trips to the pub and museums, summer picnics, Christmas parties, weekly research seminars and peer-support research meetings offer plenty of opportunities to explore new ideas, give and receive feedback and make some excellent friends!

  • Marta Cecchinato, former PhD student, currently a lecturer in Northumbria University

image ofTemi Olugbade, former PhD student

It was good call to have done my PhD research at UCLIC. I enjoyed brilliant support from its staff, admin and academic (my supervisor was especially superb!). The comradeship of UCLICers, with lots of opportunities for professional and social interactions with staff and other students, further made it an inspiring and warm work environment. It was also great to have tons of occasions to pick up skills I would not have otherwise developed: one of the most notable for me was student and peer mentoring, which I found edifying and fulfilling.

  • Temi Olugbade, former PhD student, currently a post-doctoral researcher in UCL Interaction Centre