Our mission is to understand how the brain works at multiple levels, from cells to cognition and apply that understanding to create realistic models and construct technologies that solve the complex issues that face people and society. To accomplish our mission we use a variety of research strategies that include big data and machine learning, brain imaging and neural interfacing, human-computer interaction and robotics.

We have made significant improvement in all areas assessed since the REF2014. An outstanding 92% of our research has been judged as world-leading or internationally excellent. Our world-leading or internationally excellent research has increased by 27% since REF2014.

Research Impact: 100% of our impact case studies have been judged as having outstanding or very considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance with an increase of 50% in our research impact being rated as either 4* or 3* since REF2014.

Environment: 100% of our research environment has been judged as being conducive to producing research of world-leading and internationally excellent quality and enabling outstanding impact, in terms of its vitality and sustainability, an improvement of 10% since REF2014.

Research Outputs: 86.2% of our research outputs have been judged as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance, and rigour. Our world-leading or internationally excellent research outputs have increased by 23% since REF2014.


Our cross-disciplinary research focuses on six interrelated research themes:

  • Computational Neuroscience and Neuromorphic Engineering

To model cellular and network level brain function to understand intelligence and pathology and create biologically inspired algorithms and hardware.

  • Cognitive Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

To develop intelligent signal/image processing to probe and understand brain dynamics, structure and function and produce technologies that maintain, enhance, augment and restore physical and cognitive function.

  • Cognitive Robotics

To create robotic ecologies that have human-like sensing capability for seamless interaction through complex object recognition, vision and tactile sensing, task allocation, manipulation and more.

  • Intelligent Data Analytics

To achieve fundamental advances in AI and scalable computing to solve the most challenging data analytics problems faced by people, industry, society and government.

  • Spatial Computing and Future Human-Computer Interaction

To study people’s interaction with text, voice, gesture, Augmented Reality/Virtual reality (AR/VR) and develop new contexts for computing through wearables and technology everywhere.

  • Cyber Security and Web technologies

To develop secure and connected technologies that operate intelligently to deliver context aware knowledge and actions in real-time.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.