Computer Science

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Run by Faculty of Engineering
Awards available PhD, MSc by research
Programme length MScR: One year full-time;two years part-time; one further year to write up thesis.
PhD: Three years full-time; six years part-time; one further year to write up thesis.
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date Not fixed

Programme overview

As a city, Bristol is known for its concentration of high-technology industry. Computers, communications and microelectronics are well represented, alongside digital media, computer games and electronic commerce. The University's Department of Computer Science has close relationships with many of these organisations via collaborative projects, staff secondments and visiting industrial staff.

The department is located in the Merchant Venturers Building alongside the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the Department of Engineering Mathematics. This brings together the research in computing, communications, electronics and photonics within the University.

Fees for 2021/22

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2021/22 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time
Overseas (including EU): full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2021/22

A number of funded studentships are available each year, supported by research council, industry, University or other funds. View the faculty website for a list of currently available funded projects or visit

Self-funded or sponsored students are also very welcome to apply.

View Information on funding postgraduate study for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

PhD applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of a Master degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline. Applicants without a masters qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of readiness to pursue a research degree.  

MSc by Research applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of an upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline and demonstrate readiness to pursue a research degree.  

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile E
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

The Department of Computer Science's large programme of research is supported by industry, the European Union, UK government research establishments and public corporations. The academic research programme is organised into the following groups:

The Visual Information Laboratory undertakes innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, resulting in new technology in the areas of computer vision, image and video communications, content analysis and distributed sensor systems. Current research includes: images and video search and retrieval; video tracking; visual SLAM; medical and bio-imaging; machine vision; 3D and multi-view processing; colour science; and high dynamic-range imaging, vision and graphics.

Our Cryptography and Information Security group conducts research into cryptography, the underlying hard problems on which it is based, and the hardware and software needed to implement secure systems. The group has particular interest in techniques for proving the security of cryptographic systems, efficiently implementing these systems on small computing devices and verifying these implementations, including testing their security against physical attacks. We also have an interest in security auditing and computer forensics.

The Cyber Security Group's research focuses on three interlinked strands: security of cyber-physical infrastructures, software security and human behaviour. It participates in several major initiatives, including leading projects as part of the Research Institute in Science of Cyber Security (RISCS) and the Research Institute in Trustworthy Interconnected Cyber-Physical Systems (RITICS), co-leading the security and safety stream within the UK Research Hub on Cyber Security of Internet of Things and leading the programme of work on developing a Cyber Security Body of Knowledge (CyBOK).

Members of the Intelligent Systems group explore general principles underlying learning and intelligence in artificial and natural systems. An important aspect is machine learning and data mining techniques for systems and software that improve with experience. We also work on the interface between computer science and the biological sciences, exploiting connections that not only help to make computers more intelligent but also deepen our understanding of aspects of human intelligence. We are working on computational methods for automating significant parts of the scientific method. Our research enables the development of sophisticated systems that allow us to manage and make full use of vast amounts of digital data.

The Robotics group leads the faculty's theoretical and practical robotics research, some of which is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in Frenchay. Researchers are involved in projects studying human-robot interaction, collective robotics, aerial robotics, neuro-inspired control, haptics, control systems, rehabilitation robotics, soft robotics and biomedical systems.

The Bristol Interaction Group is a creative interdisciplinary research team interested in designing novel interactive computers and displays. We specialise in exciting research that couples the design of hardware devices with complex electronic, electrical and physical properties, alongside deployment and evaluation in everyday public settings. We like to call this style of research Human-Hardware Interaction (HHI).

Computational neuroscientists apply computational and mathematical approaches to the study of the brain and, in the other direction, seek to uncover insights into computation and mathematics by working with experimental neuroscientists in trying to understand how the brain works. We are interested in the algorithmic structure of the central nervous system and the neurobiological systems and mechanisms that support them.

The Theory and Algorithms Group studies various aspects of the theory and practice of algorithms. The goal of our research is both to provide scalable solutions to existing problems and to understand the limits of what is possible.

The quantity of data available in digital form continues to increase at an exponential rate. The need for faster and more accurate algorithms is now more important than ever before. We also want to understand where improvements are impossible by establishing provable lower bounds, both in terms of space and time.

The Trustworthy Systems Laboratory has been established to explore demonstrably trustworthy systems. Confidence in a system's trustworthiness can be gained in many different ways, including by design, through transparency, and through rigorous verification and validation. This new lab will help to address the increasing global demand for design techniques and systems that are not only reliable but also secure and robust against failures.

The T-B PHASE Prosperity Partnership (Thales-Bristol Partnership in Hybrid Autonomous Systems Engineering) builds on the existing strategic agreement between Thales and the University of Bristol to establish and deliver a groundbreaking programme of research that will generate new design principles and processes for hybrid autonomous systems engineering. Research is carried out in the context of three live use case scenarios co-created by Thales and Bristol: hybrid low-level flight, hybrid rail systems, and hybrid search and rescue.


The Computer Science PhD can open doors to many different stimulating commercial or academic careers. Graduates have become part of new and existing world-class research groups, as well as joining highly rewarding careers in a variety of industries around the world.

Staff profiles

Bristol Interaction Group

Dr Peter Bennett, (Lecturer), Design Theory; Mobile and Wearable Computing; Musical Instrument Design; Tangible User Interfaces

Professor Kirsten Cater, (Professor of Human Computer Interaction & Entrepreneurship & Innovation Pedagogy), computer graphics; context aware applications; Human computer interaction; mobile and ubiquitous computing; pervasive computing

Professor Mike Fraser, (Professor of Human-Computer Interaction), Haptics and force feedback; human-computer interaction; human-robot interaction; public engagement with computing research; social interaction; use of technology in public

Dr Paul Marshall, (Senior Lecturer), activity tracker; Autographer; behaviour change; data sharing; personal informatics; RescueTime

Dr Roisin McNaney Lecturer, Digital Health; Digital tools for speech and language therapists; mobile-sensing technology

Dr Oussama Metatla, (Senior Lecturer), Child-Computer Interaction; Crossmodal perception applications in HCI and HRI; Inclusive education technologies; Multisensory, and multi-person Virtual Reality; Voice user interfaces, Auditory Displays, and Sonification

Dr Aisling O’Kane, (Senior Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction for Health), Assistive technologies; Digital Health; DIY Health; Experience-centred design; Social computing

Professor Chris Preist, (Professor of Sustainability and Computer Systems), Environmental impact of digital technology and electronic goods; application of digital technology to engage communities around sustainability; life cycle assessment techniques for digital products and services; role of gamification techniques and social norm theories in engaging communities around sustainability

Dr Anne Roudaut, (Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction), Dynamic affordance; experimentation platform; mixed reality; projected AR; shape-changing interfaces

Dr Daniel Schien, (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science), Autonomous and Intelligent systems; Energy Efficiency Cloud; Internet of Things; Smart City

Computational Neuroscience

Dr Laurence Aitchison, (Lecturer)

Dr Conor Houghton, (Reader in Computational Neuroscience), mathematical and computational approaches to neuroscience; understanding information processing and coding in the brain

Dr Nathan Lepora, (Reader in Robotics), Robotics and computational neuroscience

Dr Rosalyn Moran, (Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Neuroscience), Neuroimaging & Computational Neuroscience

Dr Cian O'Donnell, (Lecturer in Computer Science), Computational & Theoretical Neuroscience

Dr Rui Ponte Costa, (Lecturer in Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning), Model inference; Probabilistic inference; Quantal analysis ; Short-term synaptic plasticity; Synaptic transmission


Dr Daniel Page, (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science), Cryptography and information security; languages and architectures.

Dr Theo Tryfonas, (Reader in Smart Cities), Cybersecurity; Internet of Things; Smart Cities; Systems Engineering

Cyber Security Group

Dr Thomas Pasquier, (Lecturer), Audit; compliance; distributed systems; information flow tracking; intrusion detection; operating systems

Professor Awais Rashid, (Professor of Cyber Security), Cyber-physical systems security; human behaviours (adversarial and non-adversarial); software security

Intelligent Systems Laboratory

Dr Tilo Burghardt, (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science), Animal biometrics; applied vision for behavioural biology; computational phenomics; object detection; species conservation; visual material authentication and physically uncloneable functions; wildlife documentation and ecotourism.

Dr Colin Campbell, (Reader in Mathematics for Information Technology), bioinformatics; machine learning

Professor Nello Cristianini, (Professor of Artificial Intelligence), artificial intelligence; data science; machine learning

Professor Peter Flach, (Professor in Artificial Intelligence), Exabyte informatics; Learning from structured data

Dr Carl Henrik Ek, (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science), Multi-view latent variable models

Professor Jonathan Lawry, (Professor), Modelling uncertainty, vagueness and imprecision in AI

Professor Weiru Liu, (Professor of Artificial Intelligence), Intelligent Autonomous Systems; Data mining, large-scale data analytics, anomaly/threats detection; Theoretical aspects of Merging/Revising Uncertain and Inconsistent Knowledgebases

Professor Trevor Martin, (Professor of Artificial Intelligence), Artificial Intelligence; Fuzzy sets; Soft computing

Dr Ivan Palomares Carrascosa, (Lecturer in Data Science and A.I.), Decision Support and Recommender Systems

Dr Oliver Ray, (Lecturer), Scientific theory formation and revision.

Dr Raul Santos-Rodriguez, (Senior Lecturer in Data Science and Intelligent Systems), Data Science; Machine Learning


Dr Sabine Hauert, (Lecturer, Research Fellow in Engineering Mathematics), Swarm engineering

Theory and Algorithms

Dr Raphaël Clifford, (Reader in Algorithm Design), Algorithms; lower bounds; pattern matching; string algorithms; theoretical computer science.

Trustworthy Systems

Professor Kerstin Eder, (Professor in Computer Science), Energy Efficient Computing; Design automation and verification; Verification and Validation for Safety in Robots

Professor David May, (Professor in Computer Science), Languages and architectures; mobile and wearable computing; robotics; system design and verification.

Visual Information Laboratory

Professor Alin Achim, (Professor of Computational Imaging), Statistical signal, image and video processing algorithms using sparse distributions in sparse domains

Dr Dima Aldamen, (Reader in Computer Vision), Activity recognition; automatic surveillance; computer vision; image processing; object detection; video analysis

Professor David Bull, (Professor of Signal Processing)

Dr Andrew Calway, (Reader in Computer Science), Mobile and wearable computing; Robotics; Vision

Dr Neill Campbell, (Reader), Computer animation; Computer vision

Professor Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, (Professor in Robotics, Computer Vision and Mobile Systems), Computer vision; Mobile and wearable computing; Robotics

Professor Majid Mirmehdi, (Professor of Computer Vision, Engineering Faculty Education Director), Computer Vision; Image Processing; Pattern Recognition; Robotics

Dr Jose Nunez-Yanez, (Reader in Adaptive and Energy Efficient Computing)

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year.

Open days and visits

Register for our virtual open week.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Research Admissions Team Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 4753 or +44 (0)117 331 5232 Email:

School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Engineering Maths
Merchant Venturers Building
Woodland Road
School website: School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Engineering Maths
Department website: Department of Computer Science

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2014 results

  • Computer Science and Informatics:
  • 31% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 56% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 12% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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