Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ image

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some of the frequently asked questions and answers that prospective PhD students may have about the Centre.

Do you have hints and tips for applying?

Carefully read and follow all the guidance in the How To Apply section including the Horizon CDT Step-by-Step Application Guide October 2022.  Make sure you understand how the CDT PhD Programme works, and that you meet the eligibility criteria.  Please make sure that you submit all the requested information or your application may be rejected.  Show how you meet the selection criteria when you complete the Horizon CDT Personal Statement Form 2023 entry FINAL.  Give yourself plenty of time to start your online application (you don’t need to complete it in one go), and make sure you submit it before the deadline!

How will I choose my PhD topic?

We recommend looking at previous research themes on the CDT website to get an idea of the sort of research we do before you apply.  During your academic interview, you will be invited to discuss and expand on your own research interests as outlined in your CV and Personal Statement.   A list of potential research themes and their associated external partners (industry, third sector or other partner organisation) may be provided before the interview to aid discussion, however, the list is not definitive.  If you are successful at the academic interview the CDT will try to match you with a suitable partner/theme (we cannot make a studentship offer if we can’t match you to a partner/theme).

If your application is successful, you will be allocated a relevant year 1 academic supervisor who will assist you in developing your research proposal.  In the first year, you will attend a number of modules by potential supervisors associated with the CDT and be encouraged to have informal meetings with those whose areas you are interested in pursuing.  You will start on your PhD proposal as soon as you join the centre and be required to complete this by June of your first year.  The academic staff within the centre will help you with this.

Do I need to upload a research proposal with my application?

No, and if you do upload a research proposal it will not be considered.  This is because in the Horizon CDT the research proposal is developed during the first year as you learn more about interdisciplinary research in the digital economy arena.  If you have specific ideas of the research you want to undertake, mention these in your personal statement, and you will have the opportunity to explore your ideas in more detail during the interview.  However, if you have a very specific research direction in mind,  the CDT programme may not be appropriate.

Do I have to find a supervisor before applying?

No. Unlike a more typical 3-year PhD, applicants do not approach potential supervisors before applying.  You will be allocated a relevant Y1 supervisor who will guide you in developing your research proposal during the first year. Your supervision team will be determined through discussions between yourself, academics within the Horizon centre and external partners as your PhD topic evolves. The supervision team will be confirmed by the Centre Director and Training Programme Manager by months 8-10 of year 1. All students will have two supervisors from different research areas to ensure that the research topics are transdisciplinary and most will have an external supervisor from a partner organisation

I am an international applicant – the online form has a section for visa details, do I need a visa before applying?

No, you only need to include visa details on the online form if you already have a visa.  You will however need to obtain a visa if we make you an offer.  The University of Nottingham visa team can offer advice.

I am an international applicant – do I need to provide an IELTS test result or other evidence when I apply?

For international students whose first language is not English an up-to-date IELTS with an average score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any element, or an acceptable alternative qualification is required for entry to the Horizon CDT programme.  You do not need to provide test results or evidence of alternative qualifications at the application stage unless you already have them.

Please see: the University of Nottingham policy on minimum English language entry requirements for information about alternative qualifications.

Do I need to upload references with my application?

No, and if you upload references yourself these will not be reviewed.  All applicants must provide contact details of two referees on the application form – at least one must be an academic, and the contact email must be their official email address.

Do my referees need to send in references before the application deadline?

No, Admissions/ CDT will contact all referees and this may be a little after the deadline as we don’t need references at the interview stage.

How are Horizon CDT studentships funded?

If you are offered a standard Horizon CDT studentship, it is fully funded for 4 years.  This means your tuition fees are paid in full and you will receive a monthly stipend (£17,600 per annum tax-free in 2022/23), plus access to funds to support your research e.g. travel and consumables.

Can I self-fund?

Self-funding or funding by an external agency is possible, however, this is a significant financial undertaking, particularly for international students (the international PhD fee for 2021/22 is £25,000 per year).  Also, many sponsors will only fund a 3-year PhD.   Please note the same application process applies, and we can only consider applications with evidence of confirmed funding or a confirmed scholarship.  If you are interested in self-funding please contact the CDT to discuss before applying –  email:  stating “self-funding PhD” in the subject field.

I already have a PhD can I still apply?

There is nothing to prevent you from applying if you meet the eligibility criteria.  However the doctoral training element is at the core of all CDT programmes,  so you would need to justify why you wish to join a doctoral training programme when you already have a PhD.   You would need to consider how you would “benefit from research training through to completion, to qualify for a doctorate” when compared to other applicants at the start of the PhD journey.

Which research groups are involved in the CDT?

There is a wide variety of research groups and centres involved in the CDT  including the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, Mixed Reality Lab, Human Factors Research Group (Faculty of Engineering), Intelligent Modelling and Analysis Research Group, Computer Vision Lab, Nottingham Geospatial Institute, N/LAB Institute for Science and Society, Schools of English, Psychology, Law and the Business School.  We are now also partnered with the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University.

What are the taught elements I will be taking?

The programme is tightly integrated, but the core elements (modules) cover Advance Research Practice, Enabling Technologies, Future Products, Impact Plans, Innovation and Technology Transfer, Literature Review, Peer-reviewed Publication, Placement (Internship),  Planning Your Thesis, Responsible Research and Innovation, Sprint Project, Writing Your Thesis.  Optional modules include Cognitive Ergonomics, Contemporary Issues in Human Factors and Interactive Systems, Machine Learning, Programming, Qualitative research methods, Engaging with conferences, Summer School/Doctoral Colloquia, Outreach and Exhibitions.

How am I assessed?

Taught modules are assessed primarily by coursework and some taught modules have examinations as well.  There will be a minimum average mark required for taught modules.   At the end of each year, you will have an annual review which will check your research is progressing satisfactorily before proceeding to the next year.  At the end of your 4th year, you will submit your PhD thesis for examination and will be awarded a PhD if you successfully pass the viva.

Where will I be based?

In the first year you will be based in the dedicated Horizon CDT space in the School of Computer Science, Jubilee Campus at the University Campus.  In years 2-4 you will move to the School and research group of your principal supervisor, which may be on Jubilee or University Park Campus, or (for De Montfort University registered students) in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University.

What is a placement?

You will undertake a three-month placement within one of our partner industrial organisations.  You will still receive your stipend.  The work you conduct there may not be directly related to your specific PhD topic but will be relevant to the CDT focus.

When will each cohort start?

Each cohort of students starts in late September.