MSc by Research/MPhil/PhD Computer Science

Location

Streatham Campus, Exeter

As a PhD, MPhil or Masters by Research student in Computing, you will join the department of Computer Science. The department houses multidisciplinary teams who are tackling a wide range of important and exciting research problems. The department builds on Exeter’s international reputation for Computer Science activities, especially within areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning and hydroinformatics. The department brings together Computer Scientists and Mathematicians working on a variety of modern-day, interdisciplinary topics including problems of knowledge representation, machine learning, optimisation, image and signal processing.

In the area of machine learning, pattern analysis and statistical computation, which incorporates close collaboration with the mathematical sciences, we research a range of techniques for learning from data, including statistical and nature-inspired methods. Current and recent projects in this area have focused around application areas ranging from bio-medical imaging, face and speech recognition to air-traffic control and safety-critical software design. A strong research theme in this area is shape-based computer vision and image processing, particularly for image retrieval and object classification.

Research on optimisation methods focuses on techniques for evolutionary optimisation, particularly multi-objective optimisation. This work is currently being exploited in areas such as hydroinformatics, credit-card fraud detections, mobile phone network turning and bioinformatics problems. Closely related to these is research into biologically inspired algorithms, such as neural networks, swarm intelligence and artificial life, together with applications to bioinformatics.

Artificial intelligence research interests focus on spatial and temporal knowledge representation, with applications to geographical information science, and on the philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence and computer science.

In the area of hydroinformatics we are mainly concerned with the design and multi-objective optimisation of water distribution and related networks using iterative learning algorithms and neural networks; genetic algorithms; water systems. This is supported by EPSRC, EU and British Council contracts. The work involves collaboration with numerous UK and EU universities and industrial companies.

What is an MPhil or PhD?

Both MPhil and PhD research degrees involve an extensive investigation of a particular topic.

MPhil research takes a maximum of three years to complete full-time, or five years part-time, and is assessed by the submission of a dissertation of up to 60,000 words. The PhD takes a maximum of four years full-time and seven years part-time and the results of your research will normally be assessed by a written thesis of up to 100,000 words and oral examination. The PhD is only awarded when the results of your investigation make an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

A PhD is the highest qualification that a university can award and offers a challenging and exciting opportunity to work at the cutting-edge of research: if you have these qualities Exeter can offer a very supportive environment in which to pursue research.

Advice for PhD applicants

Our online learning resource 'Considering a UK PhD?' provides lots of helpful advice and information from staff and students about the PhD experience at Exeter.

You may wish to read our research programme application process page, which give tips on how to put together a successful research degree application.

Applicants for research programmes are also advised to visit the College's webpages to check for specific advice (see further information link). Here you will be able to find out about staff research interests and make preliminary enquiries about supervision. We advise that you do this before applying.

What is a Masters by Research?

The Masters by Research, not to be confused with the taught MRes degree, was introduced in 2009 and is offered within some Colleges. The Masters by Research, like other research degrees, contains no taught element and offers you the opportunity to pursue a research project, without entering into the commitment of a longer-term research degree. As such, it’s ideal for those in employment who are interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project.

A Masters by Research degree is assessed by a written dissertation of up 40,000 words. The dissertation will not need to constitute an original contribution to knowledge but will need to provide evidence that you have worked at the current limits of understanding of the subject. Unlike a taught Masters degree, there is no taught element, so dedication and enthusiasm for your subject are essential.

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