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Looking for a PhD?

I am currently recruiting PhD candidates in the areas of Software Engineering and Trustworthy Robotics and Autonomous Systems. If you are interested, read this first and get in touch.

Current PhD Students

  • Mr Pantelis Kriades (2021 - Present)
    Neuron-informed Software for Autonomous Systems

  • Mr Daniel Bethell (2022 - Present)
    Safe AI through Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

  • Mr Danny Roberts (2022 - Present)
    Uncertainty-Aware Decentralised Planning in Autonomous Teams

Past PhD Students

  • Miss Sorour Jahanbin (2019 - 2024)
    Intelligent Run-Time Partitioning of Low-Code System Models
    (now Research Associate, University of Manchester, UK)

  • Dr Ioannis Stefanakos (2018 - 2022)
    Integrated Correctness Analysis and Performance Evaluation of Software
    (now Research Associate, University of York, UK)

  • Dr Andrea Bassich (2018 - 2022)
    Curriculum Learning with a Progression Function
    (now Data Scientist, PokerStars)

Who I will be working with?

You will be working with a world-class team of researchers in the field of model-driven engineering and autonomous systems. Our research group is regularly publishing in leading software engineering, modelling, and self-adaptive systems journals and conferences including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Journal of Systems and Software and Automated Software Engineering, and International Conference on Software Engineering.

Where will I be located?

Our research group is located in the Department of Computer Science, a new, purpose-built building in the city of York, one of the most historic, picturesque and safe cities in the United Kingdom. In 2018, York was named Britain’s best place to live in the Sunday Times list for its “perfect mix of heritage and hi-tech”, described as a “mini-metropolis with cool cafes, destination restaurants, innovative companies - plus the fastest internet in Britain”.

How can I apply for a PhD?

You can apply for a PhD through the University’s online system. The most important part of your PhD application is your research proposal which should articulate the topic you are interested in investigating during your PhD; it should be something you are passionated about.

What is the typical PhD duration?

The typical duration of a PhD is 3-4 years. Being in a world-leading position in the field of model-driven engineering means that we will be able to help you select a cutting-edge topic for your PhD project so that you can engage in productive and fruitful research from the first year of the programme. In fact, many of our PhD students start publishing novel results from as early as the second year of their project.

What is a research proposal?

A good research proposal on a topic of your interest is the initial fuel for your PhD. Some advice for writing a good research proposal includes:

Common issues

Common problems in research proposals according to Prof. Kolovos include:

  • Lack of hypothesis/evaluation plan: Some proposals suggest developing a piece of software or a methodology without explaining the problem it is meant to solve or presenting a convincing evaluation plan. In your proposal you should try to clearly answer the following questions.

    • Which specific problem will the proposed software/methodology solve?
    • Why is this problem important? Has it been identified as a problem by other researchers?
    • Is there any previous work on solving this problem in the literature? If so, what are its limitations that you wish to address in this work?
    • Once you have developed the software/methodology you are proposing, how will you evaluate that it actually solves the problem it targets?
    • What resources are required for your evaluation? (e.g. if you are planning to develop a methodology that needs to be evaluated by software practitioners, how are you going to get hold of them?)
  • Too broad/narrow: While a PhD is all about doing novel research and choosing your own path, you should keep in mind that it is a 3/4-year undertaking and that a non-negligible proportion of this time will be spent on reviewing literature, writing reports, papers etc. As such, an ambition to e.g. “simplify the development of cloud-based applications” is obviously unrealistic if you are referring to every possible type of cloud-based application. Of course on the flip side there are proposals with very limited ambition (e.g. a trivial extension of the applicant’s BSc/MSc thesis).

How to start?

Before starting writing your proposal, it is usually a good idea to contact me first so that we can discuss whether the topic you have in mind aligns with my research interests. In your introductory email, please:

  • attach copies of your CV and transcripts
  • briefly explain how you plan to fund your PhD studies (i.e. are you applying for/have you already secured a scholarship? Do you require funding from the University of York?)

If you don’t have a specific topic in mind, I am happy to suggest topics that are aligned with my current research on trustworthy robotics and autonomous systems.