School of Mathematics

Life as a PhD Student

Life as a PhD Student

The PhD programme at the University of Edinburgh involves a 36 month research course and a further 12 month writing up period. Over the last decade, the average time from entry to PhD thesis submission has been 3 years and 9 months.

PhD students are expected to take on leadership roles in their chosen career paths; as such, the ability to present material and succinctly convey ideas is an essential component of PhD training. Our PhD candidates receive intensive training during their first semester in best practises in conducting academic tutorials. Typical teaching duties are 60 hours in year one and 120 hours per year in subsequent years. Additional speaking training and practises are offered through University courses as well as research group meetings.

A range of graduate courses, organised through the Scottish Mathematical Sciences Training Centre, are attended by PhD students during the first 6 months of the programme. Further research-level courses are available afterward. At the end of the first year, each student's progress is assessed by means of a prepared talk and a brief written report. It should be appreciated that some students may have to change registration for an MSc by Research as a result of this assessment.

The first year of PhD studies is focused on the video-conferenced general mathematical taught courses provided by the Scottish Mathematical Sciences Training Centre in cooperation with 7 other Scottish Universities, and weekly meetings with the supervisor to establish background in the student's area of proposed research.

Depending on the research area of your PhD, alternative courses may be available from NATCOR (National Taught Course in Operational Research) or APTS (Academy for PhD Training in Statistics).

The remaining years are focused on the candidate’s development of independent research, culminating in published papers and a doctoral thesis. Throughout the programme, most doctoral candidates are active in the teaching of mathematics in the school, and attending research seminars to develop breadth of knowledge.

Facilities & Resources
  • Office space - you will have your own desk in one of our PhD student offices from year 2 onwards. 
  • In Year 1 - You will use shared space in the Bayes Centre in central Edinburgh.       
  • Computing facilities - a desktop computer will be offered to you with either Linux or Windows as standard.  There are also a large number of open access computers on campus.
  • Common room - join our PhD community for lunch in the School Common room
  • Firbush - each year our PhD students have the opportunity to go to the University's outdoor centre at Firbush
  • Graduate Student seminars/colloquia
  • Libraries - The Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library is on The King's Buildings campus