Frequently Asked Questions

Some frequently asked questions about the CDT in Data Science and AI.

Q: What are the benefits of the CDT in Data Science and AI compared to a conventional PhD?

A: Conventional PhDs in the UK are three years and do not include coursework.

However, the CDT in Data Science and AI is a four year programme, with the first year as an MSc by Research and the following three years as PhD study. The first year of the programme, which combines taught courses and research projects, gives students an advanced background across the breadth of data science, which is designed to help students to make informed decisions when choosing their PhD projects. Depending on the student background, the MSc can be tailored to balance the number of taught courses and the amount of research time.

The CDT holds a number of events, transferable skills training, seminars, and reading groups for CDT students. This is in addition to the range of events which are offered to PhD students within the School of Informatics.

The CDT also engenders a cohort: the CDT students are trained together, all share the same office in the first year, and attend CDT meetings in future years. CDT students are a group who have the opportunity to work together and share their experiences.

Students on the CDT are also encouraged to take time away from their studies to conduct research at another lab or undertake an internship with one of the programme's industry partners.

Q: How do students chose their PhD topics?

A: Upon successful completion of the MSc by Research, students meet with potential supervisors to discuss potential research areas, and determine a project and supervisor that matches his/her research interests. On this basis, students will write a short proposal describing the intended research, which will be reviewed by a panel of academics with relevant expertise. Many continue on the research programme started during the MSc, so this gives them a head start on their area of research.

Applicants do not need to choose a precise PhD topic before applying to the CDT in Data Science and AI. Students will be exposed to a range of areas during the course of the MSc by Research year. It is possible, even likely, that students' research interests will change during this time, so students do not firmly choose their PhD topics until after completing the MSc by Research. We do ask students to nominate two potential supervisors on application. You will be linked to an academic supervisor at the beginning of your course, but you can change supervisor at a number of points in the programme. 

Q: Do I need to contact a supervisor before submitting an application?

A: You do not need to contact a PhD supervisor before making an application, though you may do so. However, we do ask you to nominate two potential supervisors.This is important, as it ensures you look at the staff who could potentially supervise you, and you consider the match between your interest and the (admittedly wide) research interests of our supervisors. If you already know about a specific research area or supervisor that is particularly interesting to you, please also note this in your application.

Q: When does the programme start?

A: The programme commences in September each year. Due to the nature of the programme, particularly the first year MSc by Research, it is not possible to start the programme at a different time.

Q: Is it possible to study part-time?

A: It is only possible to apply to undertake study in the CDT in Data Science and AI as a full-time student in Edinburgh. However for students already on the programme, and in the PhD years, we are accommodating to life's circumstances, and we do consider the possibility of students moving to part time study if there is a pressing need to do so.

It is possible to take the following programmes part-time:

taught MSc in Data Science

taught MSc in Informatics

taught MSc in High Performance Computing with Data Science

Online Distance Learning (ODL) Postgraduate Programme in Data Science, Technology and Innovation

There may also be other PhD programmes in the School of Informatics where part-time study may be possible.

Q: Is it possible to do a distance learning degree?

A: Participating in the local research environment is a vital educational aspect of the CDT in Data Data Science and AI programme. All CDT students would be expected to be based in Edinburgh for both their MSc and PhD research.

The University of Edinburgh does offer an Online Distance Learning (ODL) Postgraduate Programme in Data Science, Technology and Innovation, which is different than the CDT in Data Science and AI. 

Q: Is there a separate application to request funding from the CDT in Data Science and AI?

A: A separate application does not need to be made to request funding from the CDT, as this will be assessed from the same application as the academic selection. The exception is for some students who are outwith the EU. If you do need to make separate funding applications, we will contact you.

All applications will be considered based on academic merit, regardless of the funding available to each applicant.

Q. What does a studentship include?

A: A fully-funded studentship includes all fees and a stipend for living costs. The stipend is paid based on the EPSRC stipend rates.

Q: Not sure that the CDT in Data Science and AI is right for you? Learn more about the other postgraduate programmes in data science offered by the University of Edinburgh:

taught MSc in Data Science

taught MSc in Informatics

taught MSc in High Performance Computing with Data Science

PhD from the School of Informatics

Online Distance Learning (ODL) Postgraduate Programme in Data Science, Technology and Innovation

Have questions that aren't answered above? Visit the School of Informatics Frequently Asked Questions (particularly useful for application questions) or contact us