How to apply for PhD at Edinburgh, School of Informatics

Students either with or without masters degrees are welcome to apply for PhD at Edinburgh.

Rik Sarkar

Read the entire document before taking any action.

This is a general guideline for students looking to apply for PhD. The main points are:

More details below:

Supervisors and positions

The general procedure is that along with officially applying online, you should contact at least one faculty member to see if they are interested in supervising you in PhD. So, the first thing is to find a possible supervisor in a suitable area.

For example, if you are interested in Social and other networks, sensor and mobile informaiton processing, algorithms, geometry etc (See the topics page here) then you can contact me by email with subject "Phd in *" mentioning your interest, and your CV and copies of transcript as attachment.

Your prospective supervisor can give you more information, but here are some genral guidelines.

There are different types of PhD positions.

The School of Informatics at University of Edinburgh hosts several CDTs. For example:

Exactly where you should apply depends on your interests as well as on availability of funding. This is where your supervisor may be able to guide you.

Research Proposal

The application requires a short proposal of what research you want to do in your PhD. This takes time -- usually several weeks -- to prepare, so start early and see deadlines below. Your supervisor may be able to give some advice.

The proposal must be consistent with your profile, your supervisor's interests and the position you are applying for.


Funding is the main competitive issue in PhD admission. There are usually only limited funding available. For example, each CDT has funds for about 10 students a year. If you are applying for a PhD outside of CDTs, someone (like you supervisor) must have information about funds to cover you for PhD.

There are many schemes inside and outside the university that can fund your PhD. Your home country may have some schemes as well.

The Commonwealth Scholarship is one such scheme. See if you qualify, and look for other ones. Often these are not very well advertised.

Important information for Overseas students (From Outside UK and EU)

Overseas students have higher fees. This makes things difficult, since usual funded positions (such as the CDTs) do not cover this extra fees. There are ways to cover these, but they are again competitive. Check with your supervisor. Again having some other source of funding can help.

Exactly who is overseas and who is not is a bit tricky. Someone with a citizenship outside UK and EU is overseas, but they may be considered non-Overseas if they have been in UK for several year (e.g. studying as undergraduate.)

It is a good idea to mention your status when contacting a possible supervisor.


You should generally apply early (early december), since funding etc are competitive. If you apply late, it is possible that some positions will have been already allocated, and you will not be considered for them even if you have strong applciation.

Your refrees will need time to prepare a letter for you, so tell them about your plans as soon as you start your own preparation, and it is a good idea to tell them beforehand to expect requests for letters from the Universities where you apply. Try to do the online applications early, so that your referees have time to upload letters for you.

Writing your research proposal will take time as well. You should allow enough time to write it, get feedback from a supervisor, modify it etc. At least a few weeks, preferably more than a month.

Given that, the general deadlines are (check the web pages for exact dates for this year):

But all students should try to apply by the earlier deadline, becuase your chances decrease with time, as described above.