How to Apply


Thank you for your interest in applying for a place in our CDT for September 2023.

Our CDT is the training arm of the prestigious Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, and forming the new National Robotarium, which opened in September 2022. We have been training innovation-ready postgraduates since 2014, with a focus on safety and safe interactions between robots, people and their environments. To ensure that the application process is as smooth as possible for our applicants, we have included below some detailed guidance notes. We hope that these will help you to complete your application in full.

We have a few places available for HOME / EPSRC ELIGIBLE STUDENTS ONLY for September 2023 Start - Closing Date 16 June 2023

Some key points to note before you start your application

All complete applications for HOME/EPSRC Eligible places received up until the closing date of 16 June, 2023 will be considered. Although we will acknowledge receipt of applications as we receive them, we will not be in a position to advise applicants of the outcome of their application until the panel has completed the review process.

We are unable to submit incomplete applications to the academic panel for review, so please refer to the Documents Required to Support Your Application section.

All students are required to be based in Edinburgh to optimise the cohort benefits.

Studentships, although limited, are available for all nationalities. All, with the exception of one, cover maintenance at the research council rate (stipend for 2023/24 is £18,662) and home tuition fees (home fees for 2023/24 are £4,712). The exception is the one studentship offered by the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, which covers maintenance, and Home or International tuition fees.  Rates for 2023/24 are to be announced shortly. 

Entry Requirements

We have a number of exciting PhD opportunities for those with a passion for robotics and who have or expect to obtain a 2.1 or higher degree in Engineering, Computer Science or related subjects such as Maths, Physics, HRI and NLP. Applicants from other disciplines with an interest in robotics will be considered, such as Psychology, Social Sciences and the creative disciplines.

Non-native English speakers need to provide evidence of a SELT (Secure English Language Test) at CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) Level B2 taken within 2 years of the programme start date. There are several types of SELT, but IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the most common. The minimum requirement is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, no individual component can be less than 6.0 in a single sitting.  A degree from an English speaking university may also be accepted in some circumstances.

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons and actively encourage applications from groups that are underrepresented in our CDT. All appointments will be made on merit.

We are committed to facilitating a shift in the culture and diversity of the robotics research community through pro-active practices to support equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels. Our work in this area was recently recognised by Informatics Europe, who awarded the CDT with the Minerva Informatics Equality Award.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement


Themes available for September 2023

Please refer to the project themes tab for details of the themes for 2023. 

Applicants should write a research proposal on one of the listed themes but also state two or three other themes that are of interest to them at the end of their research proposal.

Clicking on the theme link will list the supervisors who are working in that research area. Applicants have the option to include details of up to three potential supervisors from this list in the Research Project Information section of the Application Form, or alternatively include their details at the end of their research proposal.

The project proposal should outline a clear scientific idea and should include the following:

• Theme from project themes tab and title of your proposed project

• Describe why your research idea is worth pursuing

• Outline how it has been approached previously

• Describe what worked in that approach

• Detail how you would approach your research topic

• Demonstrate how this is different/better than any previous approach

We do not have any particular requirements with regard to font or style, but we would recommend that students use the above bullet points to help structure their proposal. Two to three A4 pages (including references) of single-spaced type should allow most candidates to submit a quality proposal.

From time to time, we are also able to offer industry funded studentships. Please check here for details.


Other Documents required to support your application

In addition to the project proposal detailed above, please submit the following:

  • An up-to-date CV
  • Previous degree certificates and transcripts.  If submitting certificates and transcripts which are not in English, please submit a certified English translation for all documents
  • Two references. Please ask both referees to send their reference to with the name of the applicant clearly marked
  • Passport - front cover and page with your details
  • Personal statement of no more than 250 words stating reasons for applying to the programme


Submitting your application

Applications are submitted via the Heriot-Watt application portal at

Please select "Robotics and Autonomous Systems, PhD" with programme code F229-RAS.

Once you have completed the application form, the option to upload supporting documents will be made available.

Although the application portal might confirm that your application is complete, the CDT has some additional requirements, and we would ask that you please ensure that you upload ALL of the documents listed above to minimise delays in your application being reviewed.  Please do not include documents other than those requested with your application as these will not be forwarded to the review panel.


Contacting us

You may be able to find the answer to your question here but if you need to contact us, please e-mail in the first instance.

For institution specific queries, please contact: (Professor Helen Hastie, Centre Director at Heriot-Watt University) or (Professor Michael Mistry, Centre Director at University of Edinburgh.