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Computer Science and Information Systems (MPhil / PhD)

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two, and if it seems likely that your thesis will contain significant original work. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Students who successfully complete this MPhil or PhD degree will have gained expert knowledge in their chosen research area and the ability to perform research-led activities in a broader context. In addition, students who successfully complete the PhD degree will have gained the ability to identify and solve complex problems arising in their chosen research area, and will have made a substantial original contribution to this area.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), more than 75% of our research outputs in Computer Science were ranked world-leading or internationally excellent. Our research focuses on data science, theoretical computer science, algorithms, internet of things, data mining and machine learning, knowledge representation and reasoning, logic and artificial intelligence, semantic web technologies, search engines, mobile and ubiquitous computing, computer vision, bio-inspired computing and social networks.


  • The Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Birkbeck is one of the longest-established computing departments in the UK. We celebrate our 65th anniversary in 2022.
  • Our research dates back to the late 1940s when one of the first electronic computers was developed in the then Computing Laboratory at Birkbeck by Dr Andrew Booth. The department was formally established in 1957 as the Department of Numerical Automation, one of the first computer science departments in the world.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • The department provides a stimulating teaching and research environment for both part-time and full-time students.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A master's or upper second-class degree in computer science.

    english language requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

  • Fees


    To be confirmed

    Fees and finance

    PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    The School of Business, Economics and Informatics attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We also offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    The department has major research collaborations with the neighbouring UCL Institute of Education and with the Birkbeck Department of Psychological Sciences. Together with the UCL Institute of Education, we are exploring how digital technologies and new media are shaping the future of knowledge and learning, while our collaboration with the Department of Psychological Sciences, in the Centre for Cognition, Computation and Modelling (CCCM), focuses on connectionist modelling, symbolic modelling, cognitive architectures, and computational modelling for the study of human behaviour and cognition.

    Our academic staff serve on numerous journal editorial boards and conference programme committees.

    Study resources include a course on research methods for computer science and information systems, regular research seminars and extensive computing facilities. The department provides assistance with funding for you to attend conferences where you are presenting your research, and you are also encouraged to attend generic research training courses.

    Full-time students are expected to provide lab supervision, tutorial help and marking of coursework on the department's taught courses for up to five hours a week as part of their training. This is remunerated at the current College rate. You must have an active, up-to-date web page on the department's website, including contact details, a description of your area of research and a publications list.

    As a research student, you will have 24-hour access to servers and networked PCs running a range of language compilers, database, data mining and other specialist software, and the College library subscribes to major digital library resources in computer science.

    Read more about our vibrant research culture. Find out more about the research interests of our current MPhil/PhD students.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You can contact the research admissions tutor, Andrea Cali, with general enquiries about MPhil/PhD research with us. Find out more about applying for a research degree in Computer Science at Birkbeck

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck: 

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students.

    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Draft a research proposal. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal.

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. You will also need to include a short personal statement and a copy of your CV. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress.

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply, and start studying, at any time during the year, although October is the usual start date.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A crucial factor when applying for postgraduate study in computer science and information systems is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the department.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff: