Computer Science PhD / MPhil

Pursue your postgraduate programme at the University of Liverpool and you'll be part of a Computer Science school that's internationally renowned for its advanced research and teaching.

Why study with us?

There is a real sense of community, and the supervisors and staff are always willing to offer advice and motivation. There is a good balance between the practical training that is required to develop research skills and the independence to conduct your research.

Paul Gainer - Computer Science PhD student
  • 97%

    of research activity recognised as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' REF (2014).

  • £5m

    refurbishment of Grade II listed building.

  • 100%

    of our impact activities recognised as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent.'


Established in 1983, our department has grown into a vibrant environment. In 2014 we became one of the top 10 computer science departments in the UK after 97% of our research was rated as world leading and internationally excellent by the Research Excellence Framework.

Computer Science at the University of Liverpool is research-driven and internationally renowned for its cutting-edge work. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework rated 97% of our research as being world-leading or internationally excellent, the highest proportion of any Computer Science department in the UK.

With our close industry partnerships and Russell Group status we enjoy strong funding and have recently invested £5m in our facilities. It is the perfect setting for world class experts to do ground-breaking research.

To best support our research we have flexible platforms that reflect our core interests and strengths. These platforms inspire innovative cross-disciplinary collaborations, with specialists throughout the University and across the world.

Research plays an important role in the life of the Department, and members of the Department are well known internationally for their ongoing contributions to the theory and practice of Computing. This has consistently been recognised in research assessment exercises over a number of years.

Following a Grade 5 RAE rating in 2001, 75% of the Department's research activity was judged as 3* or 4* in the 2008 REF, rising to 97% in 2014. This was the highest proportion of world-leading or internationally excellent output of any CS department in the UK.

Research interests


The scientists in the Algorithms Section focus on the theory and applications of algorithms and also on understanding and coping with complexity. Scientists in our section also design and implement experimental software in order to test, apply and evaluate advanced algorithmic techniques. Our era has been characterised as “the era of Algorithms”. Our scientists investigate several aspects of this important field, including algorithmic optimisation, algorithms for networks and distributed computing, algorithmic game theory and algorithmic economics, and also computability and complexity of problems. The section is organised thematically in three corresponding research groups:

Research in the Algorithms Section mainly builds on Computer Science. However there exists a growing interdisciplinary flavor where algorithmic thought is inspired by problems in economics, mathematics, chemistry, statistical physics, engineering and biology/medicine. The Algorithms Section has several externally funded research projects (UK and EU funding) and also engages in applied industry-driven algorithmic research and design of associated software (e.g. auctions, network data analytics, traffic analysis, social media algorithmic applications and analysis, new materials construction, biological systems, banking). Details can be found on the group pages.

The Algorithms Section is a leader in algorithms and complexity in the UK and also one of the leading teams world-wide. The scientists of the section publish in a variety of very competitive conferences on algorithms and theory of computing. The section has a strong presence on the editorial boards, and organisation and program committees of major events in algorithms and complexity.

The Algorithms Section is involved in a state of the art Software Lab, in cooperation with the EEE&CS School initiative NeST (Network Sciences and Technologies).  The lab is equipped with several servers, several software platforms, a network of tiny devices (arduinos) and several high-speed connections. The lab aims to apply algorithms to create modern and efficient software and has already produced some software products in cooperation with local industry.

Agent Applications, Research and Technology

Scientific staff in the AI Section focuses on the theory and practice of building intelligent systems across core areas of artificial intelligence, including knowledge representation, data mining and machine learning, argumentation, robotics and autonomous systems, and verification. The section is organised thematically in four corresponding research groups:

Research in the AI section mainly builds on computer science but also has an interdisciplinary flavour by taking inspiration from fields such as economics, biology, mathematics, and engineering. The AI section has several externally funded research projects (UK and EU funding), and also engages in applied industry-driven research projects (e.g. law, robotics, pharmaceutical companies). The details of these projects can be found on the individual group pages. The AI section plays an internationally leading role by publishing at leading AI conferences, and has a strong presence on the editorial boards, and organisation and program committees of major events in AI.

The AI section is involved in a state-of-the-art robotics laboratory named smARTLab (swarms, multi-agent and robot technologies, and learning Lab).  smARTLab has two large experimentation facilities for research and development of ground robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Research themes

The current research platforms are grouped into two main sections, each containing a number of more specialised areas.  These are:

Algorithms Section

Artificial Intelligence Section

Study options and fees

MPhil / PhD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,500* (2021) £24,250* ^ (lab based programmes)
£18,450* (non Lab based programmes) (2021)
Part time 4-6 years £2,250* (2021) £12,125* (lab based programmes)
£9,225* (non Lab based programmes) (2021)

* This excludes potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

^ Self funded full time international students studying a lab based programme will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

If an EU student starts their studies in 2020-21, before 1 August 2021, they will have a fee classification of EU and pay UK fee rates for the duration of this registration. The exception being ROI students, who will continue to be charged fees at the UK fee rate, post 1 August 2021.

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from well qualified graduates who would typically hold a UK first degree or equivalent in the first or 2:1 class, or a 2:2 class degree plus a Masters degree, in a relevant subject.

To be eligible, applicants should possess at least a 2:1 class Honours degree (or its equivalent) in Computer Science or in a related subject. Applications should indicate proposed research topics.

We welcome applications from around the world. You should ensure that your qualifications are equivalent to those required to study for this research degree. See our guidance on international qualifications.

You must also have reached a minimum standard of English and be able to provide evidence of this. See our English language requirements for international students.

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

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