FARSCOPE aims to train the next generation of innovators in the growing field of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). The vision of the programme is ubiquity - or robots everywhere - enabling students to think beyond a robot's technology and about its environment. Our programme leads to the award of a joint PhD degree from both the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. A PhD is a uniquely challenging and rewarding endeavour, especially in a cutting-edge field such as RAS.

We have enhanced the standard individual PhD in various ways to give you the best possible start on your RAS research and innovation career. This programme includes:

  • specialist taught modules in a wide variety of RAS technologies to equip you for research;
  • exposure to a diverse range of industry and academic RAS topics to give you a broad view of the potential and context of RAS;
  • cohort-based skills training, including enterprise, public engagement, communication and research methods;
  • group projects and industry study workshops to foster creativity, practical skills and integration.

You will have your choice of specialist topics from more than 50 academic supervisors. The centre is based at the Bristol Robotics Lab, the largest specialist robotics laboratory in the UK, plus you'll have access to all the combined facilities of both partner universities.

Programme structure

Year one

  • Research methods training
  • Seminars in modern robotics methods
  • Robotics, mechanics and programming
  • Robotics context and applications (industry delivered)
  • Robot intelligence and systems
  • Specialist robotics topics (chosen from a list of options)
  • Group robot project (for example, IMAV contest, robot soccer or Mars rover field test)
  • Initial research project
  • Communications training and research presentation.

Year two

  • PhD research
  • Industry study workshop
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Complementary skills training
  • FARSCOPE-TU conference presentation.

Year three

  • PhD research
  • Industry study workshop
  • Partner placement (optional: opportunities at partner universities in Europe, Asia, North America or partner companies in the UK and Japan)
  • Public engagement training and group activity
  • FARSCOPE-TU conference presentation.

Year four

  • PhD research
  • Complementary skills training (including thesis preparation)
  • FARSCOPE-TU conference presentation.


You will start working on your initial research project in your second term, leading to dissemination of your research at the end of your first year. You then progress to your major PhD research project, for which you may choose to continue your initial project or pursue a new topic.

Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for the first year of this programme.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree in engineering, physics, mathematics or a related subject. Other disciplines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students who have completed our MSc in Robotics may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for direct entry into the second year of this PhD programme. This will be subject to an interview, which will include a qualifying presentation on research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level E.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,665 per year
UK: part-time
£2,332 per year
Overseas: full-time
£25,300 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2023/24

The FARSCOPE CDT programme has funds to support up to ten students per year including fees, stipend (at standard RCUK rates), research and travel expenses. Funding is also available for a small number of international candidates each year. Applications from self-funded international students will also be considered.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

Students graduating from this programme will be suited to careers in industry, as ambassadors for robotics across many different sectors, or starting their own enterprises.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory is involved in a wide range of robotics research projects both nationally and internationally. Our research portfolio spans a number of different themes:

Aerial Robots
Research into intelligent aircraft, including autonomous micro air vehicles, specialising in their guidance and control.

Assisted Living
Research into interactive assistive robots and smart sensor systems, to create person-focused innovative assistive care solutions that support independent living.

Bioenergy and Self-Sustainable Systems
Research into overcoming the energy barrier to deploying autonomous robots in remote areas by utilising microbial fuel cells.

Biomimetic and Neuro-robotics
Developing robots that can operate in challenging environments, beyond the limitations of conventional sensory devices.

Connected Autonomous Vehicles
Research and development into all aspects of connected autonomous vehicles.

Robots for Hazardous Environments
Research and development in all aspects of robotics for hazardous environments and autonomous system support.

Medical Robotics
Robotic technology is able to provide precise and accurate sensing and movement capabilities, thus improving patient and surgeon experience.

Non-linear Robotics
Research towards bringing future generations of humans and humanoid robots together, which requires safe interaction of humans with robots.

Robot Vision
Developing robots that are able to analyse what they see and make decisions in response to instructions by humans.

Robotic Ethics
Researching robotic ethics and ethical robots. The former is concerned with the ethical use of autonomous systems, while the latter is concerned with how autonomous systems can themselves be ethical.

Safe Human-Robot Interaction
Investigating physical and behavioural safety for human-robot interactions, ensuring that a robot is capable of performing cooperative tasks with humans.

Smart Automation
Research into the next generation of advanced robotics engineering systems: robots that can make human-like decisions while carrying out manufacturing processes.

Soft Robotics
Soft robotics seeks to make robots that are soft, flexible and compliant, just like biological organisms.

Swarm Robotics
A combination of environmental, social and internal cues could result at the group level in components believed to be important in the emergence of self-organised behaviour.

Tactile Robotics
Robots with human-like tactile dexterity would transform our economy and society. But how do you give robots a sense of touch?

Verification and Validation for Safety in Robots
Investigating all aspects of safety for verification and validation purposes and to enable safe human-robot interaction in cooperative tasks.