Prospective Research Students

Studying HCI

Our students' research typically falls within one or more of our Research Domains (to be linked).  As our department sits between the Dept of Computer Science and the Psychology Division, some of our research students are registered in Computer Science and some through Psychology and Language Sciences. 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 Science  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.

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 wide 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, Intel, various hospitals, manufacturers of medical devices and other commercial organisations.

Practical Information

Eligibility

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

  • Have or expect to have a relevant first degree or Master's degree of 1st class or 2.1 standard in UK system, 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. Please see the guide for more information.

Fees

Fees for the next academic year (2016-17) are £4770 Full-time and £2385 Part-time for Home/EU students

Fees for Overseas students are £23,180 Full-time and £11,090 Part-time (Overseas). See also more information at ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research/degrees/ucl-interaction-centre-mphil-phd.

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 Psychology, you must use the online UCL system. To apply through Computer Science, you must apply using the PRISM 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. It 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 Paul Marshall, 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 those wishing to be considered for UCL scholarships (expected start: September 2016), you must apply by:

14th December 2015 via Computer Science - see http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/degrees/phd_programme/applying/ for more info.

30th November 2015 via Psychology and Life Sciences through the online system.

You must have an offer of a PhD place or be already registered at UCL before applying for a UCL scholarship - this is a separate application process. Please check out more information for Overseas applicants or UK/EU applicants . The applications must be received in UCLIC by Wed 6 Jan 2016.

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

28th March 2016 via Computer Science

OR no later than

30th June 2016 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 Opportunities section (see below) if you are interested in applying for one of these. Successful candidate(s) going through Psychology then apply formally to UCL using the online system as above. All applications going through Computer Science must be through their PRISM system.

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.

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. 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, eighteen 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 also provide consultancy on various aspects of human-computer interaction.

Opportunities

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 on the Registry site, and for overseas students there are often sources of funding from the home country.

Student testimonials

I had a great time doing a PhD at UCLIC. I had the opportunity to work alongside world-class researchers, to conduct interdisciplinary research and to be a part of such a vibrant research community. You're located at the centre of London so there's always something exciting to do. What I'll remember from my time at UCLIC was the support network and mentoring I received from colleagues and supervisors. Everyone at the department is deeply invested in your personal and professional growth. With their support and encouragement, I had the opportunity to explore other milieus of research, live abroad and work at other research labs. Pursuing a PhD at UCLIC has opened many doors, and as a result I've been fortunate to have secured a post-doc at CMU and a research position at IBM Research in Zurich and Africa.

  • Abdigani Diriye, former PhD student.

I came to UCLIC hoping to embark on an academic career. I could have not come to better place to start out. UCLICers are committed professionals: academics at UCLIC care about their students' careers. While you're here you'll have the chance to travel, to meet new people and to tell them about your work.
UCLICers are also a gregarious lot, which is an important thing when, inevitably, you go through a rough patch with your research. You'll have plenty of opportunities to talk about what's going well and what's going not-so-well over lunch, coffee and beer.
Experience and advice are freely shared. And once you're done, you'll end up with a doctorate from one of the best HCI labs in the world.

  • Sandy Gould, former PhD student, currently doing post-doc research in UCLIC

I had a fantastic time completing my PhD at UCLIC. I was surrounded by people whose work I found inspirational and interesting and as a result I constantly pushed myself to try my hardest. Those same people were also the people with whom I would have ridiculous conversations at lunch, and drink until the early hours at the pub. UCL had incredible resources to support my studies and I got the opportunity to do things I would never have thought of, like performing stand up comedy about my research at a music festival. I learnt a lot during my time at UCLIC, not all of it went in my thesis.

  • Sarah Wiseman, former PhD student, currently doing post-doc research in Goldsmiths University, London

UCLIC was a great place to do a PhD. London can be a lonely place to move to from abroad, but I felt immediately accepted and supported when I joined. There are social events like trips to local pubs or "chip butty" days at the lab, which might also be considered cultural events. The range of research going on and the differing theoretical perspectives means that conversations are always interesting and sometimes eye opening. Beyond the support of my supervisors, I felt I could reach out to other academics and my peers for help whenever needed, and I have tried to return that favour when possible. Also, its location in central London meant there were always interesting speakers stopping by, many potential collaborators nearby, and plenty of things to do outside UCLIC too. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a UCLIC PhD to anyone considering it.

  • Aisling O'Kane, former PhD student, currently doing post-doc research in UCLIC