The School of Computing is seeking to recruit a PhD researcher to work on techniques to support new ways to search massive video and multimedia archives, which could revolutionise how users discover content in resources such as BBC Archives or YouTube.

This PhD project is part of a large EPSRC funded research project, called MVSE (Content-based Multimodal Video Search by Example), which includes researchers from Ulster University, University of Surrey, University of Cambridge and the BBC, who have come together to develop new technologies enabling users to search efficiently and accurately for relevant content in multimedia archives.

This particular PhD project will focus on content ranking and fusing different content sets together for presentation to the end-user. The MVSE team will use AI to interrogate all aspects of the multimedia content, for example, computer vision/deep learning will be used to interrogate each frame in a video for object identification and for facial analysis (e.g. for person identification), and audio processing will be used for topic and context identification, as well as speaker identification.

Using the knowledge from each modality (visual [video], audio, text etc.), the system will provide multiple modality-specific content lists (each can be ranked by relevance in accordance to the knowledge descriptors for that modality). Whilst other members in the project will provide these algorithms and algorithmic outputs for each modality (using APIs), this PhD will mainly focus on techniques to rank each of the modality specific content lists and fusing these together using concordance measures or other approaches.

The PhD researcher will need to develop an understanding and appreciation of the use of vectorisation (embedding), hashing, indexing and related techniques used to find relevant and similar content (e.g. Cosine similarity). The PhD project should also consider the user interface and the human-search interaction. This will include taking into account the user’s preferences whilst searching and any interactions that the user has with advanced search queries or with the use of faceted search. The PhD should also align to evolving principles in human-centred AI where the end-users are involved in the design of the search-user interfaces.

A three-year DfE PhD Studentship is secured for this project.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • For VCRS Awards, Masters at 75%
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,500 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to:

The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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As Senior Engineering Manager of Analytics at Seagate Technology I utilise the learning from my PhD ever day

Adrian Johnston - PhD in Informatics

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I started my PhD at Ulster University after I received the master degree in computer application and technology from the School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Fujian Normal University, China. My research interests are feature extraction, face verification and pattern recognition.The proudest moments of my PhD when my papers were accepted by journals and I received my PhD certificate. It is a long journey to pursue a PhD, I couldn't have got through this without the constant support, help and encouragement from my supervisors and friends. Many thanks all of them.

Huan Wan - PhD in Computer Science and Informatics

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I received the bachelor’s of engineering degree in computer science and technology from Shangrao Normal University, Jiangxi, China, in 2013; and the master’s degree in computer application and technology from the School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Fujian Normal University, China. When I was pursuing a PhD degree at Ulster University, I continued my research on face recognition and image representation.This long journey has only been possible due to the constant support and encouragement of my first supervisor. I also like to thank my second supervisor for his patience, support and guidance during my research studies. My favourite memory was the days of exercising, gathering and playing with my friends here. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be "submit more papers to Journals instead of conferences".

Xin Wei - PhD in Computer Science and Informatics

Profile picture of Niloofer Shanavas

After master’s degree, I joined the Artificial Intelligence Research Group in the School of Computing at Ulster University to pursue my PhD. I would like to thank my supervisors for their guidance, invaluable advice, encouragement and support throughout my PhD.My proudest moments were when my research papers were accepted in prestigious conferences and journals. I feel accomplished about the six first-author publications from my doctoral research. Also, I have had the honour of receiving the Best Student Paper Award at the 2018 International FLINS Conference.I love travelling; my favourite memories were travelling to present my research in addition to getting the opportunity to meet leading researchers from different parts of the world. And I couldn't have achieved this without the support of my friends and family.

Niloofer Shanavas - PhD in Computer Sciences and Informatics

Profile picture of Jyotsna Talreja Wassan

In the whole PhD ordeal, my supervisory team played a tremendous role:- they are three in a million. They are perfect supervisors who perfectly know which milestones or pathways to be taken during research initiatives, and they understand the roles of virtually all stages in the journey of PhD. They showcased superior abilities in managing and motivating me evoking high standards; demonstrating a commitment to excellence. Jane and Haiying guided me as their daughter and Fiona turned out to be the best of friends.I heard from “Eleanor Roosevelt” that “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” The dream with which I grew up to become a Doctor one day, has finally come true. In the journey of PhD, I embraced that a PhD is not just the highest degree in Education but rather it is a life experience where perseverance is the key. I can never forget words from my external examiner Prof Yike Guo, from Imperial College London. His words

Jyotsna Talreja Wassan - PhD in Computer Science and Informatics