Computer Laboratory

PhD in Computer Science —
applications and admission

An applicant who has secured full external funding may apply for admission as a research student up until 30 June 2015 (to commence October 2015). Those who are applying for one of the Computer Laboratory's PhD studentships should use the deadline published on the individual job listing.

For those applicants who have not secured external scholarships, applications for admission in October 2016 will open on 1 September 2015. The closing date is 30 June 2016. Some funding agencies require earlier submission.


Applicants are expected to have a very good degree (in the UK a First Class Honours degree) in Computer Science or a related subject. A masters-level degree (or other post-graduate work) is increasingly desirable; some PhD applicants may find prior study of our MPhil in Advanced Computer Science useful.

A good IELTS or TOEFL score is also required where an English language qualification is necessary.

Course code

The course code for application purposes is CSC1, the Certificate of Postgraduate Studies in Computer Science (CPGS). Students who complete successfully the probationary period and pass the first year review to the satisfaction of the Degree Committee will be registered retrospectively for the Ph.D. Degree to the date of admission.

Research Proposal

Students are not assigned to prespecified projects. They are expected to propose an area or topic, and will be accepted only if an appropriate and willing supervisor is available. Applicants should therefore prepare a statement of proposed research of no more than 3000 words (in addition to the usual personal statement) indicating their intended topic and research strategy. This should:

  • show an understanding of existing work in the field,
  • identify an area for new work,
  • have concrete goals and deliverables for the first year, and
  • indicate that you know how to achieve them.

This could usefully be drafted in collaboration with the intended supervisor and candidates are invited to make informal contact with the Computer Laboratory, either through individual staff members or the Graduate Education Manager (address below), before submitting a formal application. If you contact more than one person in the Computer Laboratory, please make sure that all the people you contact are aware of all the others so that we do not duplicate effort. The Laboratory may suggest an informal visit, and may interview applicants in person or by telephone.

Application forms

Formal application for admission for the PhD degree must be made through the University's central Graduate Admissions Office.

Students are encouraged to submit their applications using the Graduate Admissions online application form system. All supporting material, transcripts, academic references, degree certificates and research proposal, must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office by no later than the deadlines published below. Please note that there is an application fee.

Uploading supporting documents: Applicants are asked NOT to upload scanned documents as JPEGS. Please convert scanned material and .docx documents into PDF before uploading them with your application.

Please note that your application will not be activated by the Graduate Admissions Office until supporting documentation has been received. All supporting documents must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office within two weeks of submitting the application. Online applications will be withdrawn and may not be reinstated if supporting material is not received by the relevant closing date. It is therefore very important to have all your supporting material, including references, transcripts and research proposal, ready to submit before you apply.

Application deadlines

Admission is usually for October, the beginning of the academic year. We strongly recommend that self-funding or home applicants apply earlier than the June 30 deadline and preferably in January or early February.

International (non EU) and EU applicants wishing to enter the Cambridge Gates and other Cambridge Trust funding competitions including the Cambridge International Scholarship Scheme (CISS), must apply significantly earlier. Students from most countries need to submit their application (both graduate admission and scholarship, also known as GRADSAF) by no later than 2 December 2015.

Applicants from the USA must submit their applications usually by 15 October. The list of deadlines for graduate and scholarship applications provides more precise details.

Home and eligible EU students wishing to be considered for the Cambridge Home and EU Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) or funding from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant must submit their complete application to the Graduate Admissions Office no later than 6 January 2016.

Applicants are asked to notify the Laboratory's Graduate Education Manager that they have submitted their application to the Graduate Admissions Office. Applicants may expect to hear informally whether the Laboratory is willing to accept them: however, formal acceptance as a graduate student is decided by the University's Student Registry. The offer of a place does not guarantee funding by the Laboratory or the University, and acceptance by a College is also a separate matter.

Funding and grants

The current costs of a PhD are available from the Student Registry's Graduate Course Costs and Fee Status page. You will need sufficient funding to cover the University Fee, the College Fee, and at least the minimum maintenance for three years.

Home and EU Students

The Laboratory makes awards to UK and eligible EU students both from funds supplied, for example the EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant, and from its own funds such as the Premium Studentship. In the year starting October 2014, the Computer Laboratory helped to fund eight research students from its Doctoral Training Grant. These funds are limited and the Laboratory encourages applicants to seek other funding, for example scholarships from their home countries, to come to Cambridge. The Applications Panel considers all applicants for funding awards within its gift and submits the names of highly ranked home and EU students to the Cambridge Home and EU Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) competition. The Applications Panel also considers eligible EU students for ranking in the Gates Cambridge Trust competition. The Gates Cambridge Trust competition is not open to UK students.

The Laboratory may also have positions associated with industrial collaborations and particular research projects. Such studentships are advertised on the University's Jobs web page.

International students

Very highly ranked international students will be considered for nomination to the Gates Cambridge Trust and Cambridge International Scholarship Scheme (CISS) competitions.

CamFunds provides information about other grants for students applying to Cambridge and their closing dates. Intending students may need to make additional applications for these, as indicated in the database, and are advised to make them early.

The Computer Laboratory will contact applicants directly about its internal awards such as the Premium Studentship.

It is worth noting that full funding must be secured before starting a course at Cambridge. Most of the scholarships will not accept applications from students who are already in residence. Do not assert that you will be able to support yourself and hope that something else will turn up once you are in Cambridge.

Admission conditions

The Faculty's Degree Committee makes recommendations to offer places to successful applicants via the University's central Graduate Admissions Office, the only body with the authority to make an offer of a place as a graduate student. Offers from Graduate Admissions are usually conditional. A deadline will be set by which date all conditions must be met and, once met, the offer is confirmed by the Graduate Admissions Office.

Standard conditions include securing sufficient funding for three years to meet the financial conditions of the University and College membership. Additionally, applicants may be asked to achieve a certain grade in their current studies; to take or retake an English Language proficiency test; and any other conditions the Graduate Admissions Office might apply.

Successful applicants who have applied online may be required to send original documents to the Graduate Applications Office for validation. We strongly recommend the use of a reputable courier and that you obtain a tracking number.


Please contact the Graduate Education Manager with any questions not answered above.

Email: Graduate Education Manager

Tel: +44 1223 334656
Fax: +44 1223 334678

Applicants are encouraged to apply using the online application form. However, if it is impossible to do this, applications and/or supporting documents may be submitted by post or by courier. Applicants are warned, however, that at busy times of year the processing of applications received by post may be delayed and may not be recorded as having been received by the funding deadline.

We strongly recommend obtaining a tracking number.

Graduate Admissions Office
Academic Division
4 Mill Lane
Cambridge CB2 1RX

Email: [Javascript required]