Funding may be available for the projects below, if there is no specific funding mentioned with the project details please check the 'Funding' tab for further options.

We also welcome applications from students who already have funding in place.

For further information contact the relevant supervisor.


Data-Driven Authentication (fully funded)

The aim of this 4-year, fully funded project is to design and implement new methods for making effective authentication decisions from multiple data components, which will consist of two main stages: (i) Designing and implementing new, implicit forms of authentication that involve learning from a person’s behaviour, and (ii) Designing and implementing methods for combining and scoring multiple forms of authentication. The resultant methods would contribute to Payfont’s IOMI (I Own My Identity) technology framework.

Supervisors: Dr. Mike Just (Heriot-Watt), Dr. Michael Lones (Heriot-Watt) and Dr. Lu Fan (Payfont).

The project is co-funded by The Data Lab and Payfont Limited through The Data Lab’s Collaborative PhD & EngD Projects programme. The student will spend part of their time at Heriot-Watt University, and part at Payfont, for the duration of their studies.

To apply for this position, please complete the application form by 15 May 2017. When completing the application form, be sure to specify “Dr. Mike Just” as the project supervisor, and specify “Data Lab funded” as the source of funding. Applicants are requested to send an email to Dr. Mike Just once they have submitted their application.

For further information regarding this position, visit the project page, or email Mike Just.


'Hi Robot, it's me': Building an interactive system for human authentication

Automated conversational agents and systems such as chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated and able to undertake complex tasks. More recently interactive conversational systems have been programmed to behave in a more human-like way and to engage in conversations with real people. Related to this, when checking your identity (for example when speaking with your bank), humans are often asked to answer a series of specific challenge questions, in order to prove that they are who they claim to be. Even if your answers to some of these questions are vague or incorrect, the dialogue usually continues until you either pass the test, or are thought to be lying. This research will involve the development of an automated conversational system that can interact with, and authenticate, a real person. Some of the main challenge areas will be how to automatically generate suitable questions from information held about a person, and how the system's belief that the person is trustworthy changes during the conversation.

Project supervisors: Dr Mike Just and Prof Oliver Lemon


Logic (Theorem Proving) in Computer Science

Computers have become truly ubiquitous: in industry, society, the economy and everyday life. Individual lives as well as economies depend on the reliability of software. Hence, verification of software is becoming a priority for researchers, industries and funding agencies alike. Mechanised Theorem Proving is an area of Computer Science that strives to design algorithms and tools that allow to automatically prove theorems (if you speak Maths) or software properties (if you speak CS) in some formal language of choice.

This technology is employed in verification of Mathematical results (like Four-Colour theorem or Kepler conjecture) and verification of Computer Systems (e.g. of critically important software, computer processors or  Java compiler to name a few). Theorem proving is also embedded into type inference in programming languages that use types.

One funded PhD place is available to pursue a research project that develops methods of mechanised theorem proving for Computer Science. The proposed work will be carried out within the Dependable Systems Group (DSG). With members of staff working on programming languages and compilers (Loidl, Michaelson, Scholz), Automated Reasoning and Formal Methods (Georgieva, Grov, Ireland, Komendantskaya), Type Theory (Gabbay, Komendantskaya, Scholz), this group will provide an ideal environment for this research.

Interested candidates are invited to contact Dr Katya Komendantskaya and discuss the suitable topic.


Adaptive automatic assessment for engineering education and training

The research will focus on developing new methods for adaptive automatic assessment in online teaching and training utilising recent advances in machine learning. The successful candidate will be provided with funding to pay tuition fees and a maintenance stipend for 4 years.

Supervisors: Dr D S Reay (EPS) and Prof. N K Taylor (MACS)

Funding is available via an EPSRC Industrial Case PhD studentship in partnership with ARM Ltd.

Other projects may be available, please check information about research activities in the relevant areas which can be found here.

James Watt scholarship

As part of an ambitious expansion programme to intensify further our world-leading research programmes, Heriot-Watt University is currently offering James Watt Scholarships in the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences for the next academic year, opportunities may be available to both UK/EU and Overseas students.  For further details see here or contact Professor Mike Chantler.


EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Award (Robotics and Autonomous Systems)

The Centre's main programme is the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.  Its goal is to train innovation-ready robotics researchers to be part of a multi-disciplinary enterprise, requiring sound knowledge of physics (kinematics, dynamics), engineering (control, signal processing, mechanical design), computer science (algorithms for perception, planning, decision making and intelligent behaviour, software engineering), as well as allied areas ranging from biology and biomechanics to cognitive psychology.

Further information can be found here


EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Award (Embedded Intelligence)

Heriot-Watt University and Loughborough University are jointly offering a unique 4-year PhD training programme, drawing on their considerable expertise in postgraduate teaching and research supervision in the fields of sensors, system design, embedded software and systems, applications engineering and systems services.

Embedded Intelligence is characterised as the ability of a product, process or service to reflect on its own operational performance, usage load, or in relation to the end-user or environment in terms of satisfactory experience. This self-reflection, facilitated by information collected by sensors and processed locally or remotely, must be considered from the design stage such as to enhance the product lifetime and performance, increase quality of process or service delivery, or ensure customer satisfaction and market acceptance.  For more detailed information, please visit our website or contact Professor Mike Chantler.  


EPSRC-funded PhD studentship

Heriot-Watt receives in the region of £1.5M per annum from the UK Research Councils to fund PhD research students. Awards to individuals comprise payment of fees and a non-taxable stipend of around £14,000 per annum. This is available to suitably qualified UK nationals and non-UK nationals if resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the course. Other EU students can apply to have fees paid only although Schools may be able to provide a partial stipend for highly qualified EU applicants.

Information about research activities in each area can be found on the relevant group websites which can be found here.

Further enquiries should be addressed to Professor Mike Chantler.


MACS alumni scholarship

A 20% discount is available for all Heriot-Watt School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences graduates, with a 10% discount available for all other Heriot-Watt graduates. This discount will be applied automatically - there is no requirement to apply.

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be made to Professor Mike Chantler.

Full details of how to apply can be found here.

If applicable, please specify on the application form for which funding option you are applying.