Tips on applying and having a successful PhD

A PhD is a long degree, probably it will be 4 years of your life. And, different from your first, taught degree, it is extremely specialised on one or two areas. That is a long time to spend on something if it does not excite you.

So, the first thing is to ask yourself why you want a PhD. There are lots of reasons people have, but the best reason, in my opinion, is that you really, really want to explore some area or question in computer science. Are you fascinated by some problem and just wish someone would give you the time to try out all your ideas on it? That's an excellent way to begin!

Let me tell you what I see my role as. I see myself as your advisor, not your supervisor. By that I mean that I am not your boss. You will make your own decisions and are quite at liberty not to take my advice. In fact, I expect you to argue with me - if you haven't told me I'm wrong about at least one thing by the end you can't have become the expert that a PhD is supposed to qualify you to be. I think it is important that students get that freedom (I could not have stomached my PhD if my advisor had been the supervisor type). But, I am aware that some people prefer to be told what to do step by step and treat a PhD more like a job or a taught degree than the creative self driven experience I want for you. That's okay, we can do that too, but if you know this ahead of time, consider a different academic - there are lots who do the boss thing.

If you do want to do a PhD with me, here's how it will go: