PhD Research Programme
- How long does it take?
- How to Apply
- Application deadlines
- Career destinations
- Student testimonials
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 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 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 has 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.
How long does it take?
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 (i.e. UK/EU applicant, resident in the UK) to avail of such funding.
See below for information about funding sources and deadlines.
There are also funding schemes available for Overseas students - see UCL's International Students pages and information about Funding schemes. There is also a very helpful Scholarships Finder. For overseas students there are also often sources of funding from their home country. 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.
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 below.
Before making an application, you should check that you meet the eligibility requirements. 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 (Level 2: Good). Please see the guide to English requirements for more information.
Fees for the next academic year (2023 - 24) are £5,860 Full-time and £2,930 Part-time for Home/UK students.
Fees for Overseas students are £32,100 Full-time and £16,050 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.
Please note fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website. Also see UCLIC graduate prospectus for more information.
Please check our Jobs listings for funded PhD opportunities.
- 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.
How to Apply
Applicants may apply for specific advertised funded projects or they may apply to pursue their own research project. We usually recommend that as a first step, potential applicants contact one or two of our academics whose research interests align with your own and who could be a proposed supervisor - see more information and contact details for our Academics. You can also check out our research themes and the projects within these themes in our Research section. It is also helpful if you have a project in mind, so I would advise you to have a think about what you might like to work on, as your proposed supervisor can also give you advice about preparing your application.
In deciding which department to formally apply through, you should also consider your own academic background. Your research proposal might also 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. RRDCOMS4YR01 is the routecode when applying through Computer Science. There is more information about applying to Computer Science at the CS website. You apply through the same UCL Select system as for applying through Psychology.
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. You can submit a separate personal statement and research proposal as two documents. Each should be 1-2 pages in length. 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, but your proposed supervisor can give you advice on preparing this. 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 research 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. Please 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 applies however urgently you need a letter of support to submit with a funding application. Sorry!
In this section you will find advice on application deadlines for various funding sources, studentships and self-funded applicants. Please double-check the deadline with the funding source.
Scholarships - UCL Research Excellence Scholarship
You can find information about the Research Excellence Scholarship (RES) which is open to both current (Year 1 or 2) and prospective UK and Overseas students. See also the UCL scholarships and funding pages for more options in relation to funding.
DEADLINE: The departmental deadline for applications for UCL RES scholarships is 26 November 2023 for expected start September 2024.
You must apply to UCLIC formally or be already registered at UCLIC before applying for a UCL scholarship through UCLIC - you must submit the folllowing documents by email to Louise Gaynor by 26 Nov deadline:
• Research Scholarship cover sheet - this form is available at the RES site;
• CV - (must be up to date and lists all publications, past/current prizes, awards, and scholarships);
• A lay summary of your research proposal, on a Word or PDF document (max. 200 words).;
• Academic transcripts - Please ensure that each academic transcript submitted includes clarification on the grading scale/range of grades possible for that degree;
• 2 References -
o Reference number 1 should relate to your most recently completed university programme/degree (or the one you intend to complete, if applicable) and can be the same referee who submitted a reference as part of your admission application. You should use the Reference 1 form at the RES site;
o Reference number 2 should relate to your current or intended research programme/project. You should use the Reference 2 form at the RES site;
The deadline by which your referees should submit their references through the UCL application system is also 26 November. They should submit these through the UCL application system (UCL Select).
UCL Research Excellence Scholarship for Cross Disciplinary Training (One-Year)
There are up to 4 scholarships annually are available to full-time UCL MPhil/PhD and EngD students from any country wishing to spend an additional year of their MPhil/PhD or EngD in another UCL department acquiring research skills and knowledge from a different discipline, which can be applied in their normal area of research. See the Cross Disciplinary Training scholarship page for more information. Applications must be made by the Head of the student's home department in conjunction with the Graduate Tutor by 26th Jan 2024 via an email to Student Funding.
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.
DEADLINE: The submission deadline for preliminary applications for expected start Sept 2024 is 30th November 2023.
If successful at this stage, you will be asked to complete a full application form.
DEADLINE: The submission deadline for full applications for expected start Sept 2024 is 31st January 2024.
More details about the application process are available at the UBEL DTP website, where you can download the UBEL Application Guidance.
UCL Research Opportunity Scholarships
See UCL Research Scholarships page for more details. Interested applicants should apply formally through UCL Select and you must contact Louise Gaynor to notify us that you would like to be considered for a UCL-ROS by submitting a ROS cover sheet by 12 January 2024 - this form is available at the ROS webpage. You must also complete the MS Application Form by this deadline.
Important: The application deadline for the UCL Select application, departmental notification and MS Form submission for the Research Opportunity Scholarships is 12 January 2024.
Leverhulme DTP Ecological brain Studentships - See more information and how to apply - deadline is TBC for 2024 start.
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 listings 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 funding streams
Please note that applications to be considered for the above funding streams will ONLY be accepted before the relevant funding application deadlines.
Applicants seeking other sources of funding, applying for studentships or who have their own funding
Such applicants can apply outside the deadlines given above but ideally before:
DEADLINE: For applications via Computer Science - ~12 Jan 2024 for Round 1 and ~12 April 2024 for Round 2 - TBC.
DEADLINE: For applications via Psychology and Language Sciences - deadline 30 June 2024.
If you require your own funding, please check out information about possible postgraduate schemes - there is also a very handy Scholarships Finder. Please also check out opportunities for fee partnerships with UCL.
General advice on applications and deadlines
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.
Since UCLIC was founded in 2001, more than thirty 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.
My time at UCLIC completely transformed my perspective on novel and creative research. I was fortunate to have exceptional supervisors and peers who lit up my path throughout this memorable journey. As I continue to pursue my own research, the passion for genuine science that was sparked here will always remain a driving force.
- Chongyang Wang, former PhD student, currently Post-doctoral Researcher at Pervasive HCI Laboratory of Tsinghua University
I had an amazing time completing my PhD at UCLIC. I benefited from incredible academics and amazing peer support group. I was exposed to great research practise and had opportunities to meet world class researchers. I was given so many opportunities to learn, grow my research and broaden my ideas and aspirations. UCLIC brings together a high calibre of people for work and play. From research seminars to park lunches! This was a great place to study and work.
- Dilisha Patel, former PhD student, currently Social Researcher for Disability Justice, Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub
I feel very fortunate to have obtained my PhD from UCLIC, ranked as one of the top HCI research institutes in the world. UCLIC provided a very friendly and supportive environment to develop as a researcher, mentor and teacher. My supervisor Ann Blandford, and other academics I collaborated with were always on hand to guide me in the right direction while allowing me the freedom to work independently at my own pace. I am also extremely grateful to have been a part of a fantastic cohort of mutually supportive colleagues, some of whom have become lifelong friends.
- Hadiza Ismaila, former PhD student, currently Research Fellow at the e-health unit at the UCL institute of epidemiology and health care