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EPSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship: High bandwidth covert underwater acoustic communications

Department of Electronic Engineering

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Prof Paul Mitchell No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Demand within the maritime domain calls for increased use of autonomous assets for search, survey, inspection and undertaking tasks. For these assets to cooperate in an effective manner, through water communications is needed. Underwater acoustic communication is well established, with acoustic waves from 10 – 50 kHz propagating up to several kilometres in distance, albeit at low data rates. High frequency acoustic wave transmission (e.g. 100 kHz – 1 MHz) has promise for covert communication over a short range, since signal attenuation is rapid and the noise environment is relatively predictable and benign (dominated by thermal noise).

The purpose of this well-funded ICASE PhD (funded for four years with full UK fees plus tax-free stipend) is to investigate the feasibility of using high frequency acoustic waves for underwater acoustic communication. It will develop covert short range communication capability that enables multiple assets to cooperate in the complex and dynamic underwater environment without counter-detection; this will allow squads of autonomous assets to search or survey areas in faster time.

The project is part of the on-going relationship between the University of York and Thales UK. The successful candidate will join a thriving group of researchers working on underwater communication and networking ( in the Department of Electronic Engineering at the University of York, and will be supervised by Dr Paul Mitchell and Dr Ben Henson. Short periods of time will be spent at Thales UK, including the ability to undertake practical experiments in controlled quarry and also at-sea environments, thus giving the successful candidate practical, real-world experience which is a valuable skill sought by employers.

The successful applicant should have a strong interest in communications for challenging environments and experimental work, with excellent programming skills. Experience of MATLAB would be an advantage.

This PhD must start by 1st September 2020 at the latest.

Academic entry requirements:
Candidates must have (or expect to obtain) a minimum of a UK upper second-class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, or a related subject. Prior research or industry experience would also be an advantage.

How to apply:
Applicants must apply via the University’s online application system at Please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process. To apply, please select the PhD in Electronic Engineering. Please specify in your PhD application that you would like to be considered for this studentship.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship will cover the three years of tuition fees at the home/EU rate (£4,407 in 2020/21) and a stipend at the standard research council rate for a period of up to 4 years (£15,285 in 2020/21). The stipend will also be topped up by an additional £3,000 per year, taken from the overall financial contribution by Thales UK. Additional funds are available for training, equipment, travel and subsistence costs for visits to Thales and academic conferences. Full details on student eligibility can be found on the EPSRC website (

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