Prospective Students

The Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS) at the University of Edinburgh invites applications for three-year PhD studentships starting in September 2020.

We are dedicated to the study of theories underlying the analysis and design of computing systems. Our work has a core of theoretical research and a practical component which explores application and implementation of the theory. We are always looking for bright, enthusiastic students with strong backgrounds in our research area.

PhD study at LFCS

PhD study at LFCS involves close one-to-one supervision from a principal supervisor (supported by one or more additional supervisors) and research as part of one of our research groups. You will join a very diverse group of over 50 current PhD students from many different countries and cultures, and engage in cutting-edge research from day one. 

Beyond day-to-day research activities and regular seminars and academic events, LFCS provides funding for equipment and travel you may need as part of your PhD project, and many social activities for everyone such as our weekly lunchtime talk with biscuits, our Christmas lunch, and our bi-annual weekend trip to Firbush, the University's outdoor activity centre in the Highlands.

As part of the School of Informatics, every LFCS student also benefits from the support of the Informatics Graduate School which provides a broad range of support, training, and social activities to all Informatics research students and enables you to interact with students in its other institues.

Typical PhD projects last between three and four years, but we also offer shorter research degrees such as the MPhil and MSc by Research and part-time PhD options.

We are always keen to increase the proporition of women and underrepresented groups in the institute, and are committed to the School's Equality and Diversity programme which has earned us an ATHENA Silver Award.

What's it like?

Have a look at our current students' experiences, aspirations, and advice below.

Over the course of 30 years, over 250 students have taken their PhD degree with us, and gone on to have distinguished careers. To get an idea of what a PhD in LFCS might do for your career, have a look at our alumni.

How to orient yourself

If you are interested in doing a PhD with us, you will need to identify a potential research topic and supervisor.  Consult our research, people, and individual staff web pages to find out more about research interests.  After narrowing down your possible research topics, contact one or two potential supervisors directly to explore mutual interests and agree an initial project topic. Any application requires a research proposal, that you can base on this initial topic. Academic admission to a PhD programme always requires a supervisor to agree to supervise the applicant, so speaking with them will always be beneficial to your application case and should be your first step. If you are a current Edinburgh undergraduate or MSc student, you can get involved with research at LFCS through taking some of the courses relevant to our research, or by selecting Honours and Master's projects proposed by LFCS staff.

For more information regarding the structure of the PhD programme, entry requirements, and application information, see:


Approximately 10 studentships from a variety of sources are available, covering both maintenance at the research council rate of GBP 15,009 per year and tuition fees. Studentships are available for UK, EU, and non-EU nationals. Before applying, please consult our School's pages on fees and funding.

Our PhD students receive funding from many different sources. Funding bodies include the University of Edinburgh, the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust, the Carnegie Trust, Commonwealth Scholarships, as well as companies and funding agencies abroad.

Since we always receive more applications from strong students than we can fund, we also advise potential applicants to explore national funding sources in their home country or through non-UK funding sources. Scholarships (partially) funded by industry may also be relevant, and may be supported by your current employer.

While we accept PhD applications throughout the year, several funding opportunities have specific deadlines, including the Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships and Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships open to students from anywhere in the world.

How to apply

Applicants should have a strong undergraduate degree or equivalent in computer science, mathematics, or a related discipline. We encourage potential PhD students to first study for a master's degree, as this permits a year of in-depth exposure to the kinds of research you will be undertaking before embarking on a particular project.

For full consideration, applications need to be received by 29 November 2019 (non-EU/UK applicants) or by 31 January 2020 (EU/UK applicants). We cannot evaluate applications sent over email. Apply using the online form below.


Frequently asked questions

Contact our PhD admissions team.