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  PhD Studentship in Computer Science: AI for Robotics in Agriculture

   School of Computing

  Dr Chris Holder  Sunday, June 30, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Award summary 

100% Home fees covered, and a minimum tax-free annual living allowance of £19,237 (2024/25 UKRI rate) 


Agriculture is a vitally important industry relied upon to feed 8 billion people, and as the global population continues to grow, along with environmental and economic pressures, automation is widely being adopted to lower costs, increase yields, and reduce reliance on human labour.  

Robots have the potential to perform many farming tasks, such as planting, inspecting, spraying, and harvesting crops, transporting equipment and supplies, and groundworks and maintenance, however, there are many technical challenges to widespread adoption. Changes in weather, plant growth, and terrain can severely impact the perception, path planning and control algorithms of autonomous systems, while a lack of connectivity, for example 5G, can limit communication and coordination between systems. 

This project seeks to explore how advanced AI techniques, such as reinforcement-, transfer-, and continual-learning, can be used to address these challenges, with a focus on the application of unmanned ground vehicles, and potentially also unmanned aerial vehicles, to automated crop inspection tasks. Advanced deep learning pipelines will be developed and evaluated both in simulation, and on real-world robotic platforms at the university’s 800-hectare research farm facilities, with the aim of working towards a fully autonomous ground-based crop inspection platform. 

Number of awards 

Start date  

September 2024  

Award duration 

3.5 years 

Application closing date 



School of Computing 

Name of supervisor/s 

Dr Chris Holder, Dr Deepayan Bhowmik, School of Computing 

Dr Ankush Prashar, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences 

Eligibility Criteria 

You must have, or expect to gain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree in Computing, Electronic and Electrical Engineering or a related discipline. You should be an excellent programmer in Python/C++. Understanding of machine learning and/or image processing is desirable. Enthusiasm for research, the ability to think and work independently and strong communication skills are also essential.  

The studentship covers fees at the Home rate (UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status and meet the residency criteria). International applicants are welcome to apply but will be required to cover the difference between Home and International fees. 

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills. 

International applicants may require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme. 

How to apply 

Apply to Newcastle Portal 

‘Create a Postgraduate Application’. 

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study: 

  • search for ‘Course Title’ using programme code: 8050F 
  • Research Area: Computing Science 
  • select PhD Computer Science (full time) - Computing Science' as programme of study 

In ‘Further Questions’ section please upload: 

  • ‘Personal Statement’ - upload document or write statement directly into application form 
  • ‘Research Proposal’ - when prompted, how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should type the title of the research project from this advert – you don’t need to provide a proposal. 
  • Studentship code COMP2167 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field 

In ‘Supporting Documentation’ please upload: 

  • covering letter and CV 
  • degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if already completed. 

Contact Details 


Agriculture (1) Computer Science (8) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

The available studentship only covers the full fees for a UK student. International students would need to be able to provide additional funding to cover the difference in international fees - currently £26,514 per year.

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