The UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Safe and Trusted Artificial Intellligence has approximately 12 fully funded doctoral studentships available each year. The final application deadline for entry in October 2022 is Wednesday, 15 June 2022.
Committed to providing an inclusive environment in which diverse students can thrive, we particularly encourage applications from women, disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, who are currently under-represented in the sector.
How to apply
What are we offering? Find out about Fees and Funding.
Check Entry Requirements.
Select from available projects for September 2022 entry.
- You should identify three preferred projects.
- Alternatively, it is possible for you to propose your own project, relevant to the area of model-based safe and trusted artificial intelligence as described on these pages.
Write your research proposal
You should write a 3 – 4 page Research Statement on the project you have listed as your first choice, which will be evaluated as part of the application process. This should incorporate the following (irrespective of whether you are proposing your own project, or applying for an existing proposal):
- your initial ideas on the particular challenges you would be interested in addressing within the project in the context of Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence,
- a brief review of the relevant state of the art, identifying any limitations or open questions, and
- your initial ideas on what research you might carry out towards addressing these challenges, referring to existing research literature where appropriate.
If you have listed your own project proposal as your first choice, then you should make clear its relevance to the theme of Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence.
Submit a PhD application to the relevant institution/s:
- If your preferred projects are all from King’s College London, carefully follow the instructions on how to apply to King’s College London.
- If your preferred projects are all from Imperial College London, carefully follow the instructions on how to apply to Imperial College London.
- If your preferred projects include projects both from King’s College and Imperial College, you should submit two applications, one to each institution. Carefully follow the instructions on how to apply to King’s College London AND instructions on how to apply to Imperial College London.
You should pay very careful attention to all the details given in the links above, and the instructions on the King’s and Imperial online application forms. As preliminary indication, whichever institution(s) you are applying to, you will need:
• Your research proposal (which must be submitted with your application).
• Supporting documentation, like transcripts of previous qualifications, academic reference(s), and proof of English language qualifications if English is not your first language.
*If you are proposing your own project then we encourage you to submit applications to both institutions, since this will allow greater flexibility in identifying potential supervisors.
**You may contact a prospective PhD supervisor to informally discuss your ideas before submitting an application, but you should bear in mind that funding decisions will only be made after the applications have been received and processed by both King’s College London and Imperial College London, and by the Centre’s admissions team.
As soon as you have uploaded your institutional application, please complete a Centre Applicant Information Form. You will need to include the reference number from your institutional application.
NB: Occasionally, there is a short delay between uploading your institutional application and receiving your reference number. You will have met the application deadline so long as your institutional application has been uploaded on time, but don’t forget to upload the Centre Applicant Information Form as soon as you receive the reference number – failure to complete this form may result in your application not being considered.
Relax! We look forward to receiving your application.
Applicants will normally be expected to have a distinction at MSc level (or equivalent) in computer science or related discipline. However, in exceptional cases we may consider other qualifications (including at undergraduate level) and all applications will be considered on their merit as appropriate to the individual case. Applications from individuals with non-standard backgrounds (e.g. those from industry or returning from a career break) are encouraged, as are applications from women, disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, who are currently under-represented in the sector. All applicants will need to demonstrate enthusiasm and aptitude for the programme.
It is not necessary that an applicant has completed their current course of study before applying. If an applicant has not completed their current course of study, any offer may be conditional on the eventual degree classification.
Applicants must have a good command of English and be able to apply it in an academic environment. Therefore, those who have not been educated in English will usually be required to provide certificated proof of competence in English language before starting their studies. Applicants should have an IELTS Score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each skill, or a TOEFL iBT score of 92 overall with a minimum of 23 in writing and 20 in each of the other skills. Equivalent language qualifications may also be considered, see Band D of the King’s College London English Language Requirements, and Accepted English Qualifications (at Standard level) in the Imperial College London English Language Requirements.
Fees and funding
The Centre will fund up to 15 studentships each year, depending on the support available. Each studentship will be funded for 4 years. Funding includes tuition fees, stipend and a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG).
- Tuition fees: Funded students will have full fees covered at the appropriate rate, whether home or international.
- Stipend: Students will receive a tax-free stipend of circa £17,000 per year.
- RTSG: A generous allowance will be provided for research consumables and additional training, and for attending UK and international conferences.
Who can apply?
Any prospective doctoral student wishing to study at the Centre, including prospective international students, can apply for a UKRI studentship. All UKRI-funded doctoral students will be eligible for the full award – both the stipend to support living costs, and fees at the UK research organisation rate. However, UKRI international studentships are limited to 30 percent of the total cohort and places will be competitive.
A change in UKRI criteria came into force at the start of the 2021 academic year, following the UK’s exit from the EU. For information see Changes to EU and International Eligibility for UKRI funded studentships from Academic Year 2021-22 onwards.
For further guidance on fee status, visit the:
- Advice & Guidance webpages if making an application to King’s, and
- Visas and Immigration webpages if making an application to Imperial.
Home students will be eligible for a full UKRI award, including fees and stipend. To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
- be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
- have settled status, or
- have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
- have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an International student.
International students applying to the Centre are eligible for full UKRI-funded studentships covering fees at the overseas rate and stipend. Studentships for international students are limited in number and competitive, and we encourage strong international candidates to apply.
It is possible to apply to the Centre to study on a part-time basis and we welcome applications from people who are unable to study full-time due to managing, for example, caring responsibilities, a disability or chronic illness. Because of the nature of the Centre and its training programme, the demands on part-time students are somewhat different to those made of part-time students on a standard PhD programme. All part-time students enrolled in the Centre are required to:
- Commit a minimum of 50% full-time-equivalent time to their PhD and the CDT programme.
- Maintain a regular physical presence in the department during normal working hours.
- Attend all compulsory elements of the Centre, including all training activities and all cohort building activities. This may sometimes necessitate full-time attendance over a period (for example, full-time attendance at the Centre Summer School will be expected over a 3 – 4 day period), and such activities may fall outside a student’s typical part-time hours. (Note that the Centre has a Carers’ Fund, which students may apply to in order to cover caring costs incurred by attendance of Centre activities that fall outside of normal hours.)
Part-time students will be supported by a pro-rata studentship in line with their mode of registration (assuming eligibility for a studentship as per UKRI Terms and Conditions).
If you are interested in the possibility of part-time study within the Centre please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the application deadline in order to discuss this. The Centre is unable to consider part-time applications from applicants who do not do this.
Note that the demands of cohort-based training, and the requirement for a minimum of 50% full time equivalent, mean that this programme is unfortunately not suitable for those wishing to combine a part-time PhD with a full-time career role. In this context, we believe it would be very difficult to effectively participate in this programme on a part-time basis if you are working more than 3 days per week and, moreover, we believe that to be successful, you will ideally be working much less than this. If you intend to combine a PhD with paid work that prevents full engagement with the cohort-based training programme offered by our Centre, you may instead wish to consider opportunities on a standard part-time PhD programme. Please see information on the Computer Science Research MPhil/PhD at the Dept of Informatics at King’s or PhDs in the Dept of Computing at Imperial.
Students in full-time employment
Because part-time students are required to study with a minimum of 50% full-time equivalent, the Centre is unfortunately unable to consider part-time applications from applicants in full-time work. Students in full-time employment are also not eligible for a studentship of any kind.
We also welcome applications from students (Home/EU/International) who have secured their own funding or are in receipt of alternative scholarships.
If you are a self-funded student and wish to study within the Centre please send an email to email@example.com in advance of the application deadline in order to discuss this.
The next cohort will enter in October 2022. Please see application deadlines below.
Please check that you complete the following steps correctly:
1. Submit a PhD application to the relevant institution/s
- If your preferred projects are all from King’s College London:
follow the instructions to make an application to King’s College London.
- If your preferred projects are all from Imperial College London:
follow the instructions to make an application to Imperial College London.
- If your preferred projects include projects from both King’s College London and Imperial College London:
make one application to King’s College London and one application to Imperial College London.
2. Complete a Centre Applicant Information Form.
What happens next
Once you submit your complete Centre application it will be considered by the Centre selection committee. If you meet the eligibility requirements, your application will be discussed in next selection panel and you may be contacted by some supervisors of your preferred projects to conduct interviews.
Any questions relating to the Centre should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that this email address is not monitored outside of working hours, so any questions relating to an application should be sent well in advance of the application deadline.
Frequently Asked Questions - Eligibility/Background
What are the minimal computing skills you ask for? Is a programming intensive background a must?
Our students come from a variety of backgrounds including, but not limited to, computer science. Programming skills are not a pre-requisite, but candidates must demonstrate sufficient technical skills and knowledge to cope with the programme. We consider each case individually, and award places on merit.
What is considered a related discipline?
A relevant scientific or technical discipline could be computer science, mathematics or physics.
Do I need to have a strong AI background?
We require candidates to have sufficient technical knowledge to demonstrate they can cope with the programme and some expertise that is applicable to safe and trusted AI.
Do you expect candidates to have published papers already?
No, this is a training programme and we do not expect applicants to already have publications. Many of our successful applicants have not published a paper before applying to the programme. Of course, applicants who have already published, should mention this in their application.
Can International students apply for the grant?
We can support a small number of international students with a full studentship at the Overseas rate (including a stipend, tuition fees and a generous allowance for research related expenses). International students may constitute up to 30% of our cohort and so these funded studentships are competitive. See more information in the Fees and Funding section above.
What are the new funding rules for candidates from the EU?
Please see the Fees and Funding section above for information about funding for EU candidates. We also advise applicants to connect with a King’s Advisor or contact Postgraduate Application Enquiries at Imperial for more detailed questions about eligibility for funding.
I have questions about English language proficiency. For example, “What level IELTs do I need?”; “Can I apply and provide proof of English proficiency later as part of a conditional offer?”; “Am I exempt from taking an English proficiency test if I have already studied at degree level in an English-speaking country?”
Please check our Entry Requirements. More information about English language requirements is provided under Band D of the King’s College London English Language Requirements, and Accepted English Qualifications (at Standard level) in the Imperial College London English Language Requirements. If you still have individual queries about your English language proficiency, please use the institutional contact details linked from the pages How to make an application to Kings and How to make an application to Imperial.
I am returning to education. Are you open to applications from people in my situation?
Yes. Applications from individuals with non-standard backgrounds (for example, those from industry or returning from a career break) are actively encouraged.
What does the Centre do to support equality, diversity and inclusion?
The Centre is committed to providing an inclusive environment in which diverse students can thrive. Diversity is crucial for enabling world leading research, impact and teaching, and an inclusive environment allows people to contribute their best. The Centre has identified five key Equality Diversity and Inclusion Objectives to focus our work in this area which you can read about on our Programme information pages. We are keen to receive applications from women, disabled, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, who are currently under-represented in the sector.
What support is provided for students who are parents or carers?
The Centre welcomes applications from parents and carers.
We are committed to ensuring an inclusive interview process. In addition to the travel reimbursement available to all applicants, we are pleased to reimburse caring costs for a dependent child or adult should these be incurred as a result of attending interview.
Once students join the Centre, we have in place, as standard, funds to support care costs incurred from attending activities outside of normal working hours. We encourage parents and carers who are considering applying to email to discuss your individual needs and how the Centre might support you if your application is successful (for example, with flexible working arrangements, or part-time study).
There is also institutional support for students who are carers at King’s and at Imperial, and the terms of the UKRI grant makes provision for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave.
Is this programme feasible for disabled students, eg with mobility problems?
We welcome applications from disabled students. Please contact us to discuss how we can meet your individual needs: email@example.com.
How many current students also work elsewhere, and how do they balance the PhD with this?
There are lots of opportunities for work available within Imperial and King’s. For example, many of our students enjoy paid work as Teaching Assistants (TAs). Please note that UKRI recommend that funded doctoral students undertake no more than six hours paid work per week, and it is always important for students to discuss any other activities of this kind with their supervisors in the first instance.
Can I study part time?
It is possible to apply to the Centre to study on a part-time basis and we welcome applications from people who are unable to study full-time due to managing, for example, caring responsibilities, a disability, or chronic illness. Because of the nature of the Centre and its training programme, the demands on part-time students are somewhat different to those made of part-time students on a standard PhD programme. Please see further information in the Fees and Funding section.
Is part-time funding pro-rated from a full-time studentship funding?
Yes, see further information in the Fees and Funding section above.
Can I do this course and work full time?
This is covered in the Fees and Funding section. Because part-time students are requried to study with a minimum of 50% full-time equivalent, the Centre is unfortunately unable to consider part-time applications from applicants who are in full-time work.
Can existing PhD students apply?
If you are already studying towards a PhD degree (and meet the eligibility requirements for the CDT) you can apply for a place with the STAI CDT. If you were offered a place with the Centre, in order to accept you would have to withdraw from your current PhD programme and start a new PhD with the Centre. If you receive funding for your current PhD, there may be implications around this (e.g., you might be required to pay back any funding received). It is your responsibility to check any funding implications with your current funder.
Frequently Asked Questions - Application
See also How to Apply
What would make my application stand out? What do you particularly want me to mention? How detailed should the proposal be?
Your research proposal is your opportunity to show your interest and ideas about the selected research project. You should demonstrate a good level of understanding about the project area. Use the research proposal as an opportunity to show your ideas, skills and motivation. You will find guidance about writing your proposal in the sections on How to make an application to Kings and How to make an application to Imperial.
Should the research proposal include a personal statement on why I am suitable for the project?
No. Our application process only requires that applicants provide a 3 – 4 page Research Proposal on the project you have listed as your first choice. You will find guidance about writing your proposal in the sections on How to make an application to Kings and How to make an application to Imperial.
Can I apply for a studentship before contacting a potential supervisor?
It can be helpful to contact a prospective PhD supervisor to informally discuss your ideas before submitting an application but it is not mandatory to do so. See also How to apply.
I would like to suggest my own research proposal. Is this possible?
Yes. Here are a few tips if submitting your own proposal:
- We encourage you to make applications to both institutions, since this will allow greater flexibility in identifying potential supervisors.
- If you have already identified a potential supervisor, you may want to make contact and discuss the idea before submitting your proposal. (See the information about academics at the Department of Informatics at King’s and at the Department of Computing at Imperial for details about potential supervisors.)
- In your research Proposal you must make clear the relevance of your project to the theme of Safe and Trusted Artificial Intelligence
How are research proposals assessed given that they are written for one project but a candidate may be interested in multiple projects?
Applicants should submit one research proposal about their preferred project. The objective of that proposal is to allow the CDT selection panel and any potential supervisors to understand the research interests and ideas of a candidate, and to assess their capability to explain and communicate them. One research proposal, even if written for a different project, is enough for supervisors to make an initial assessment of a candidate. If a supervisor is interested in a candidate, they may decide to have an informal conversation and/or ask them to write another proposal about their specific project(s).
Do you require academic references?
We require two references. These may be academic referees or relevant employer referees from research institutions/companies. Note that academic referees must have university email addresses and employer referees should have the official email address of the company (gmail, hotmail etc addresses are not acceptable). If you are applying to King’s College, and already have two academic references, you can scan and upload these to the online application instead of providing contact details (note that the references must be signed and on headed paper). If you are applying to Imperial College, you must provide referee contact details.
Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure we have received the references by application deadline; ensure to start your application before the deadline and contact your referees to let them know we will be requesting a reference from them.
UKRI CDT in Safe and Trusted AI is a collaboration between King’s and Imperial. Which institution will award my degree?
A student’s PhD registration will be made at the institution that employs their lead supervisor. Therefore, if a student’s lead supervisor is based at King’s, the student will be registered as a King’s student and their final PhD award will be from King’s. If a student’s lead supervisor is based at Imperial, the student will be registered as an Imperial student and the final PhD award will be from Imperial.
Is it possible to start my PhD programme in the Spring?
As the Centre provides an integrated training programme with activities that follow the academic year, we only accept entrants in September of each year.
Is it possible to reapply with an edited/improved research proposal if having unsuccessfullly applied in the last application round?
Yes, candidates that were unsuccessful in previous rounds are encouraged to apply with an improved research proposal. We advise candidates to consider the feedback they were given to make those improvements.
Are we only allowed to apply for advertised projects or could we also email potential supervisors that have not uploaded a project yet?
As indicated under How to Apply, it is possible for you to propose your own project. While not a requirement, it’s generally helpful to have identified potential supervisors and to have discussed the project with them.
Frequently Asked Questions - Studentship Interviews
Where and when will interviews take place?
You can follow our expected timelines for recruitment activity by viewing our Application Timeline. Following submission of an application, shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview, at either King’s College London or Imperial College London, (or virtually*) with the supervisors of the project for which you have made an application (or with the supervisor identified as being a good fit for your proposed project) and a supporting panel of fellow academics. The supervisors will find a date and time that is mutually convenient with you for an interview to take place. *In 2020-21 you will be invited to an online interview.
What can I expect from the interview?
Interviews typically take up to one hour and you will be asked questions so that the academics can find out more about you, your research interest and your skill set. It is likely that you will be asked questions around the following areas:
- your academic background and other relevant experience to the PhD project;
- your suitability in relation to the Centre’s research aims;
- your suitability in relation to the Centre model, which adopts a cohort-based approach and an integrated training programme;
- your technical aptitude for the Centre (and this may involve reading scientific papers and solving problems);
- your specific research interests;
- your motivations for doing a PhD; and
- your prior knowledge of AI and related areas.
Supervisors may ask you to carry out a specific form of assessment such as (but not limited to) reviewing a paper, preparing a presentation, or completing a technical test. A supervisor may also ask you to prepare something specific to their own research agenda (particularly if being interviewed by a supervisor whose project is the second or third choice in your application).
Following an initial interview, further interviews may be arranged as a follow-up if required by the project supervisors or by the Centre Directors.
You will also be given the opportunity to ask questions about the Centre training programme and any other element of the PhD project or institution at which you (and your PhD project) will be hosted.
What should I wear to an interview?
We want you to be comfortable in your interview so feel free to dress as you wish. It is unlikely that the academics leading the interview will be wearing formal office wear so don’t feel pressured to do so. We want you to feel relaxed so you can perform at your best.
Does the Centre financially reimburse candidates for attending an interview?
In 2021-22, interviews take place online. But, yes, when we are able to ask candidates to attend campus, we reimburse travel costs. To discuss the process for reimbursement, please contact the Centre Manager via firstname.lastname@example.org once you have been invited to interview for a studentship.
Frequently Asked Questions - Post-Interviews
When will I find out about the outcome of my application?
Please have a look at the Application Timeline for the date by which you will be informed via email about the outcome of your application in the particular round in which you applied. We may occasionally need to defer decisions about your application, in which case you will be contacted by email and notified of the delay by the original deadline as detailed in the Application Timeline.
Note that we are unable to offer individual feedback on written applications, but candidates who are interviewed can request feedback from their interview by contacting email@example.com; it is at the panel’s discretion to provide feedback to candidates.
I have been offered a studentship, what happens next?
If you are offered a place, you will first receive an offer of funding from the Centre Office, and you will need to accept this via email by a specific deadline detailed in the email. Following acceptance of the studentship funding, the King’s Apply Portal or Imperial Application Portal will be updated, and you will receive an offer letter from the relevant institution’s Admissions Team. The offer you receive will be an offer of a place on this specific programme. It is important for candidates to accept the offer made via the institution’s admissions portal.
You must therefore accept:
- the offer of funding from the Centre Office; and
- the offer of a place from King’s College London or Imperial College London via the Admissions Team of the institution at which you will be registered for your PhD.
Can I keep in touch before joining the Centre?
The Centre Office will send regular communications when you accept a studentship with us through to when you join us at our Induction in late September/early October. The Centre Manager will send paperwork over the summer months to you to complete before joining the Centre, and King’s or Imperial (depending on the institution at which you are accepted) will send you enrolment information from August. It is recommended that you keep in touch your supervisor and the Centre Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and send along any queries you have after accepting a place on the programme.
When is Induction?
We will confirm the date of our Centre Induction event in mid to late August (and this is distinct from, and additional to, any induction from the host department and/or institution). It is most likely to take place in the first week of October, and you will meet the Centre Team, Centre Directors, and some of our current students.
Frequently Asked Questions - Other
What are indicative job prospects after study at the CDT?
At this point (we have only been running for two years at the time of writing in July 2021), we can’t give information about where our students go after graduating from our Centre. However, we do have experience with students from our institutions in similar or related topics, who are sought after in different areas. Some have gone on to become academic researchers and followed an academic career in prestigious universities, some have secured roles with AI startups and some have gone on to work with and for some of the larger AI technology companies. We also have students who have gone on to lead on technology and AI for major banks, management consultancies and major organisations in other industry sectors. We know that there’s a great (and increasing) demand for students with the skills and training that we provide, which is one of the reasons so many companies want to partner with us. Indeed, we are working closely with our industry partners to provide a greater link for our students to different kinds of organisation in advance of finishing their PhDs. The opportunities are truly endless right now.
In addition to the stipend and tuition fees, what additional funding is offered to students?
Each scholarship includes a generous Research Training Support Grant for attending international and UK conferences, for research consumables and for additional training. In addition, funded students will be offered a laptop for the duration of their studies when they start.
Do you only do symbolic AI or also learning based AI?
Proposals including, but not limited to, data-driven methods, such as machine learning, are welcome, but they must be explicit and clear about their symbolic components and how they enable safer and more trustworthy AI. Some machine learning can also be symbolic!
To what extend does the STAI CDT help students to get a PhD internship with one of the partner companies?
We work with our partners and others to advertise opportunities for industry placements to our students.
How much flexibility does a candidate have in pursuing their own research interests after being assigned to a project?
Candidates should apply for proposals that cover their own research interests. While the nature of research may naturally lead to adjustments in the course of the PhD, variations of the original proposal need to be agreed by supervisors and remain within the focus areas of the CDT.
Can I study on taught modules outside of the programme?
There is a set of core STAI modules that students are required to take as part of their training. In addition, students can choose from a range of other options at King’s or Imperial according to their development needs. These are routinely reviewed and discussed with supervisors before the beginning of a new semester.
Is the amount of funding on offer sufficient to sustain oneself in London?
Our stipend is comparable to other similarly funded PhD opportunities in London. Some of our students also engage in limited optional teaching activities which provide an extra stream of income (as well as valuable experience). In addition, funds are also available for attending national and international conferences and for other research activities.
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- Deep learning has shown huge potential in terms of delivering AI with real-world impact. Most current projects are built in either PyTorch, Tensorflow, or similar platforms. These tend to be written in languages where the...
- The main objective of this project is to develop AI techniques to analyse the behaviour recorded in the past Stop and Search (S&S) operations. The AI system will be used to inform future operations, avoid unnecessary...
- Constructing a world-model is a fundamental part of model-based AI, e.g. planning. Usually, such a model is constructed by a human modeller and it should capture the modeller’s intuitive understanding of the world dynamics...