PhD application process

① Check if the topic is suitable

Read the general information on PhD positions, including suggested topics. Note: I'm interested in supervising work in computational neuroscience broadly, and not in pure machine learning. So if you are looking for a machine learning PhD and you are not interested in neuroscience, please do not apply.

② Check eligibility

For a funded PhD position, you should have a bachelor and masters level degree (integrated or separate) equivalent to a UK first class (bachelor) and distinction (master).

For more details on minimum entry requirements, please see the PhD requirements page (and the Country-specific requirements). However, please note that these are only minimimum, strict requirements for eligibility. Funding is competitive and usually requires grades substantially higher than the minimum requirements (see details below). Note that I do not accept self-funded students, so obtaining funding is required.

③ Submit a pre-submission enquiry

Use the pre-submission enquiry page to see if your suggested topic and background are appropriate for my group. Note that I usually reply to pre-submission enquiries within a week or two, whereas the full application procedure takes 6-8 weeks.

Pre-submission enquiry

④ Submit a full application

Full applications are submitted through the Imperial College system. You will need to write a research statement of 1-2 pages in addition to your transcripts, references, and English language test results (if applicable). Applications are processed by Imperial College admin, a process that normally takes 6-8 weeks before it is sent to me.

Submit a full application

Note that funding is competitively allocated by a panel. I would encourage you to consider their criteria (see below) when writing your application to maximise your chances of success. Make it easy for the panel to find relevant experience justifying a high ranking.

⑤ Interview

If your application is successful, you will be invited to an interview. Interviews are with me and one other faculty member at Imperial, and typically last around one hour. We will send you a paper to read a week in advance, and ask you to summarise and discuss it in the interview. We will normally ask you to talk about previous project work, and what you would like to work on (in broad terms) during your PhD. We will not ask you to solve puzzles or problems. You will have an opportunity to ask us questions, and we will also put you in touch with one of our current PhD students to chat to in confidence. I will let you know the outcome of the interview within a week normally.

⑥ Funding

If successful at the interview stage, you will be given a formal offer, but this does not come with funding. I will submit your application for consideration for Imperial College funding. This is assessed competitively at a panel that meets every few months. I will let you know when the panel takes place, and offers are usually made within two weeks after the panel. There are other options for funding including the China Scholarship Council. For more information about funding options, see here.

Note: I do not accept self-funded students.

Imperial College funding selection criteria

Normally an undergraduate or masters qualification at an equivalent level to a UK 1st or Distinction is required. You can get a rough idea of UK equivalency here (although this is not guaranteed to be accurate). This document has been withdrawn but gives slightly more detail of these equivalencies for many countries.

The criteria for funding decisions are below, and discussed in more detail along with various other options here.

  1. Academic excellence: for example, consistently high grades, high ranking in your cohort, academic prizes.
  2. Research potential: for example, number and duration of academic or industrial research projects, conferences or papers.
  3. References: choose references who will respond on time and write something strongly in your favour.