Computer Science MPhil/PhD

Major code: CSPR/CSMR

About us

Computer Science

The department offers a range of topics for research, particularly in relation to our four research groups. Doctoral degrees may be studied in either full-time mode (typically three years) or part-time.

Occasionally the department has funding to support PhD students, although this support is limited. Funded PhD students usually have their tuition fees paid and also receive a bursary towards living costs. We welcome applications from students who wish to fund their own PhD studentship. Useful information about research degrees in Computer Science may be found from the following website:

Staff research interests

Complexity Theory and Algorithmics

Dr Irina Biktasheva, Professor Leszek Gasieniec (Head of Group), Dr Dariusz Kowalski, Dr Russell Martin, Dr Igor Potapov, Dr Prudence Wong, Dr Michele Zito

Research in this group has two main themes: (1) understanding the inherent complexity of computational problems and (2) designing algorithms for solving these problems as efficiently as possible.

Selected research topics of our interest include:

  • Distributed computing, where one seeks ways to handle information management and communication between multiple interacting computer systems.
  • Complexity theory, where one seeks to understand the inherent limits on what can be computed efficiently.
  • Bioinformatics, an amalgamation of mathematics, computer science, biochemistry, and biological sciences formed to solve abstract and practical problems posed by or inspired from the management and analysis of biological data.
  • Randomised algorithms and analysis of random structures, with an interest in performance trade-offs and the combinatorial properties of the structures of interest.

Agent Applications, Research and Technology

Dr Katie Atkinson, Professor Trevor Bench-Capon, Dr Frans Coenen, Professor Paul Dunne (Head of Group), Dr Floriana Grasso, Dr. Davide Grossi, Professor Wiebe van der Hoek, Dr Dave Jackson, Dr Terry Payne, Dr Valentina Tamma

Research in this area is focused around the theme of autonomous agents and multi-agent systems. The work of the Agent ART group is based around the (now widely held) belief that autonomous agents and multi agent systems will grow to be a major software paradigm in their own right.

Within the next decade, agents will come to be seen as on a par with by now well established technologies such as object oriented development. The long-term mission of the Agent ART group is to realise this vision of agents as a software technology. Work carried out under the Agent ART banner includes research on agent communication, co-operation, negotiation, agent-oriented software engineering, and specification, design and verification of rational agents.

Specifically, research in the group focuses on the following overlapping areas:

  • Agents and Ontologies
  • Agents and the Web
  • Argumentation, Negotiation, and Dialogue
  • Data Mining and Agents
  • Rational Decision-making and Game Theory
  • Legal Reasoning
  • Logical Foundations

Logic and Computation Group

Dr Clare Dixon, Professor Michael Fisher, Dr Ullrich Hustadt, Dr Boris Konev, Dr Alexei Lisitsa, Dr Grant Malcolm, Dr Vladimir Sazonov, Dr Sven Schewe, Professor Frank Wolter (Head of Group)

Research is focused around key aspects of logic and computation. Logic provides the foundational framework for representing, analysing and even implementing a wide range of computational systems. The variety of logics available often allow us to characterise computational systems in a clear and concise manner, and such descriptions are then extremely useful as high level abstractions of the original systems, particularly if the logics are amenable to proof or direct execution. Hence, part of the work of the group involves devising logics that match the abstract intuition concerning specific computational systems. Computation is, in turn, vital within logical systems, as a logical description is of little use in Computer Science unless we can actively do something with it.

In particular, the two computational aspects of logic that the group is mainly concerned with are verification and execution. While the range of possible logics is huge, the group has a particular interest in non-classical logics, specifically modal and temporal logics, as well as algebras and programs. These enable us to represent, at a high level, key features of many dynamic, distributed, concurrent, reasoning, learning and autonomous systems. The research carried out in the group has potential applications in many areas of Computer Science and the IT industry, such as semantic web, security, space exploration, robotics and safety critical systems.

Economics and Computation

Dr Giorgios Christodoulou, Professor Xiaotie Deng, Professor Paul Goldberg (Head of Group), Dr Martin Gairing, Dr Mingyu Guo, Dr Piotr Krysta, Dr Rahul Savani

The group carries out research in the computational foundations of economics/game theory and economic theory in computer science. The group enjoys close collaborative links with the existing Complexity, Theory and Algorithms research group and the Agent Applications, Research, and Technology research group. Relevant topics of interest include (but are not restricted to) algorithmic game theory; mechanism design and auction theory; complexity and computation of solution concepts; optimization problems in economics and computational social choice.

Sven Schewe

The people here, both students and staff, are great! This is definitively the most important thing, although it seems unfair towards the amazing building, an amazing Victorian building with generous spaces and four meter ceilings.

How long have you worked at the university?

I have worked at the University of Liverpool for three years.

Are you mainly involved in teaching/research (what’s the split?)

A large portion of my time is spent on research, although I make sure I have plenty of time to teach. I also have to do some admin work, but it is minimal.

Tell me more about this i.e. what’s your research about? Does your research take you anywhere interesting e.g. foreign countries, important sites/projects? Do you collaborate with anyone? Has your research made a difference to anything/one? What’s been the impact?  

I am interested in automata and game theory and its applications in the construction and analysis of safety-critical systems. In layman's terms: I research automated techniques that answer the questions "Is there a system that satisfies this specification?" and "Can we make (control) this system to satisfy its specification?", as well as qualitative versions of these questions.

Many conferences are in nice places. Besides Germany (where I studied) and the UK, I have stayed in the United States, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Italy, Slovakia, Czech, and Iceland. The really interesting places my research takes me is academic virgin soil.

I have ongoing collaborations with researchers in Israel, China, Denmark, and Taiwan (in this order of intensity), but my strongest links outside of the UK are still those to Germany.

I won the award for the best PhD thesis in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, a competition that includes around one thousand entries. In 2010, the European Research Consortium for Computer Science and Informatics put me on a list of the twelve best young European researchers in computer science and applied mathematics.

What modules do you teach on which programmes?

I teach the Safety and Dependability module, a 15 credit master level course that is part of our three MSc programmes and of our four MRes programmes. It is also offered to our MEng students in their final year.

Besides that, I offer research projects for our taught and research post-graduate students.

Do you teach large/small groups? 

Research projects are 1:1, and MSc modules are often taught in small groups. I guess the average sizes of my courses are in the region of 12 to 15.

What have some of your students gone on to do?  

I know of seven former master students that they continue higher education and do a PhD now, but the majority goes to industry.

What do you love most about the University of Liverpool?

The people here, both students and staff, are great! This is definitively the most important thing, although it seems unfair towards the amazing building, an amazing Victorian building with generous spaces and four meter ceilings.

Why should prospective students study a postgraduate qualification here? What are the benefits?

If you look for a place to study at a postgraduate level, you should seek brilliant researchers to teach and guide you, and you should want them to care for and work with you. If you look at the academic standing, the latest RAE suggests that we are but in the top ten (which is already great!). If you look into the small print, you'll find that we could claim a podiums place in research excellence, but get deductions for having few research students. For a research student, this is great: it means the world leading academics here really work with them!

Benefits are more knowledge, more skill, significantly more research ability, more independent thinking and critical judgement, and good job opportunities.

What does your department/subject, in particular, offer a prospective student?

We offer cutting edge research and research lead teaching. We have particular strengths in verification, game theory, control theory, logic, algorithms, and AI.

Other comments?

Well, if you want a break from research and studying: Liverpool is a thriving city. We were European Capital of Culture in 2008, and the number of museums and other cultural places is just amazing. The city is pretty international, too, and you can feel that it is a university town: while we are the premier institution, there are four universities and many colleges in Liverpool.