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UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Natural Language Processing, Ph.D.

  • Anytime
    Application Deadline
  • 48 months
    Duration
University rank #20 (QS) ,
The four-year UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Natural Language Processing at The University of Edinburgh will give you a solid foundation in the challenge of working with language in a computational setting and its relevance to critical engineering, scientific, and ethical problems in our modern world.  

About

The University of Edinburgh have witnessed the rapid evolution of a wide range of natural language processing (NLP) systems that translate text, recognize or produce speech, answer questions, retrieve documents or facts, respond to commands, summarise articles, and simplify texts for children or non-native speakers. NLP is transforming the way humans communicate with each other and with machines. The rapid proliferation of online news, social media, and scientific articles has created an exploding demand for NLP systems that enable people to derive critical insights from massive streams of data in many languages.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Natural Language Processing is jointly run by the School of Informatics and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. Its aim is to equip students with the fundamental skills for advanced research in NLP and language science, giving them foundations in: linguistics; machine learning, statistics, algorithms; programming; working with other modalities such as vision; and design, ethics, and responsible innovation as they apply to NLP systems.

The four-year training programme will give you a solid foundation in the challenge of working with language in a computational setting and its relevance to critical engineering, scientific, and ethical problems in our modern world. It also offers training in the key software engineering and machine learning skills necessary to solve these problems. The programme aims to have a transformative effect as you train and on the field as a whole, by developing future leaders and producing cutting-edge research in both methodology and applications.

The CDT brings together researchers in NLP, speech, linguistics, cognitive science, and design informatics from across the University of Edinburgh. Students will be supervised by over 40 world-class faculty and will benefit from cutting edge computing and experimental facilities. The CDT involves over 20 industrial partners, including Amazon, Facebook, Huawei, Microsoft, Mozilla, Reuters, Toshiba, and the BBC. Close links also exist with the Alan Turing Institute and the Bayes Centre.

The CDT aims to attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds, including computer science, AI, maths and statistics, engineering, linguistics, cognitive science, and psychology. This interdisciplinary cohort requires a training approach that is more flexible than the standard three-year PhD, which is why this programme takes the form of a four-year PhD with integrated training. It interleaves training at the level of a master's degree (180 credits of courses and project work) with PhD research (480 credits). The advantages of this structure are:

  • By mixing courses and PhD work, students gradually progress from classroom teaching to independent research. At the same time, research will inform their learning experience from the first day, and they can immediately apply skills learned in the classroom to their PhD project.
  • Students can take the courses that are relevant to their research when they need them, rather than having to anticipate all their training needs in advance and front-load all their courses in year 1.
  • The degree structure allows for maximum flexibility to accommodate a cohort of students with a wide range of backgrounds. Students who have a lot of prior NLP training, for example, would be expected to do a research-heavy first year (followed by advanced courses informed by their PhD project), while students with less relevant backgrounds can take a larger number of foundational courses upfront.

While all students select an individual set of courses, there are also shared components that everyone takes, which together with a program of staff- and student-led events will promote cohort formation (e.g., the annual CDT Festival, the bimonthly Language Lunch, the weekly NLP speaker series, regular industry days).

Detailed Programme Facts

  • More details: We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. 
  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 48 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Contemporary research in NLP uses complex machine learning models such as neural networks, and thus requires considerable computing resources. CDT students will have access to a large GPU (graphics processing unit) cluster and to a terabyte storage array, both dedicated for NLPresearch. Furthermore, they will have access to the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility (ECDF), a central University resource that maintains a cluster of over 4,000 compute cores and a large high performance storage facility. A number of our industrial partners provide in-kind support to the CDT in the form of compute credits, GPU hardware, and access to proprietary datasets.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:

    6.5

    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Schedule IELTS
  • Minimum required score:

    92

    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®

Academic Requirements

You need the following GPA score:

Required score: Upper Second Class

Applicants for graduate programs must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA equivalent to Upper Second Class on the UK Honour scale. Admitted applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of or better on the UK Honour scale. No exam grade should be lower than 4.5 (European grade scale) or D (American grade scale).

Your GPA (Grade Point Average) is calculated using the grades that you received in each course, and is determined by the points assigned to each grade (e.g. for the US grading scale from A-F).

General Requirements

A minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in computer science, linguistics, cognitive science, AI, or a related discipline.Most students accepted to the programme hold a first class degree.

Applicants coming directly from a bachelors or masters degree are welcome.

We particularly welcome applications from members of communities under-represented in computer science.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Edinburgh

  • 725 - 1170 GBP/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.

Funding

Approximately 8 studentships are available, covering both maintenance at the research council rate of £15,009 per year and tuition fees. Studentships are available for UK, EU, and non-EU nationals.

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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