World-Leading Scholarship in Computer Science

Application period opens
Tuesday 21 February 2023
Application period closes
Friday 31 March 2023

The University of St Andrews is pleased to offer a full scholarship funded by St Leonard's Postgraduate College, to support an exceptional student undertaking doctoral research in the following project:

Personalised, Adaptive, Language-based Planner for next generation Robotics.

Accepted start dates:

  • August 2023
  • September 2023
  • October 2023
  • January 2024
  • May 2024

Doctoral Research at St Andrews

As a doctoral student at the University of St Andrews you will be part of a growing, vibrant, and intellectually stimulating postgraduate community. St Andrews is one of the leading research-intensive universities in the world and offers a postgraduate experience of remarkable richness.

St Leonard’s Postgraduate College is at the heart of the postgraduate community of St Andrews. The College supports all postgraduates and aims to provide opportunities for postgraduates to come together, socially and intellectually, and make new connections.

St Leonard’s Postgraduate College works closely with the Postgraduate Society which is one of the most active societies within the Students’ Association. All doctoral students are automatically welcomed into the Postgraduate Society when they join the University.

In addition to the research training that doctoral students complete in their home School, doctoral students at St Andrews have access to GRADskills, a free, comprehensive training programme to support their academic, professional, and personal development.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionising our everyday life and one of the most promising applications is in robotics. We are seeing robots in various forms entering a wide range of applications: healthcare, home servicing, and manufacturing. We envision the future of robotics: a robot can understand an abstract human instruction by decomposing it into a collection of executable actions [planning], actively interact and explore the environment to monitor and validate the execution of the plan [validation], and more importantly adapt the plan according to the current context [personalisation and adaptation].  This vision is significantly beyond the state-of-the-art robotics where robots are pre-programmed with narrow tasks and are unable to adapt to special circumstances in the real world.   

Recent developments have started moving in this direction: Google’s robots can now understand human instructions and help people fetch soda, chips and energy snacks. The key enabler is Large Language Models (LLM) that can produce human understandable answers to questions in a broad variety of contexts using generalisation methods over large text corpora. Recently developed models see language as a reflection on the human mind’s ability to assemble tasks and reason through problems, which facilitates understanding the way we communicate, and explains its planning process in human-understandable manner. The main challenge, however, is the rigidness and quality of the plans being generated and the inability of the robot to adapt to changing circumstances.  

To address these challenges, this project aims to design and develop a language-based, personalised, adaptive, explainable, planning system. The key novelty resides in the constant interaction and communication between environment feedback and language-based planning. We envisage a system that actively explores an environment to collect contextual information and observe human actions to learn their intention and goal. Such information will be used to continuously revise and tailor the plan.  

This project may involve research questions such as: 1) how to generate the most relevant, accurate plans from LLM; 2) how to make use of visual observations to personalise and guide the plan currently being executed; 3) how to adapt a plan by responding to changes in current circumstances in real environments.  The success of our planning system will pave the way into the future-generation robotics, enabling true adaptation to unseen and unexpected scenarios.   

The School of Computer Science is a centre of excellence in Artificial Intelligence, computer vision, and sensing systems. This PhD aims to contribute to the School with active research on smart user-facing autonomous systems that can communicate in natural language and seamlessly collaborate with human users. This is a field of growing importance and with great potential for impact opening opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration across Schools and with international leading research groups. This research will contribute to understanding people’s behaviour and adapting robotics to suit their intention and preferences in their habituating environment, optimising resource and computational cost for better sustainability, and improving people’s quality of life with the support of robotics. 

We are looking for highly motivated research students willing to be part of a diverse and supportive research community. Applicants must hold a BSc or MSc in Computer Science or a related area. International applications are welcome. We especially encourage female applicants and underrepresented minorities to apply. 

Informal enquiries regarding this scholarship may be addressed to Dr Juan Ye ( or Dr Kasim Terzic ( 

Value of award (per year)

Full tuition fees (Home or International rate)

Annual maintenance paid monthly at UKRI rates (£17,668 2022/23) 

Duration of award

Up to 3.5 years. The successful candidate will be expected to have completed the doctorate degree by the end of the award term. The award term excludes the continuation period and any extension periods.

At what stage of my course application can I apply for this scholarship?

Please apply for the scholarship after you have submitted your application for a place at St Andrews.  You do not need to wait until you have received an offer of a place before applying for the scholarship.

Application restrictions

Study level

Available to students studying at:



Available to students studying:

Research project: Personalised, Adaptive, Language-based Planner for next generation Robotics.

Domicile for fee status

No restrictions


Available to faculty members from:

Computer Science

Application assessment

Academic merit

Available to

Prospective students

Mode of study

Full time, Part time - daytime

Geographical criteria

No restrictions

Additional criteria

You must have applied for a PhD programme at St Andrews.

You must not already (i) hold a doctoral degree; or (ii) be matriculated for a doctoral degree at the University of St Andrews or another institution.

As part of the scholarship application you will be required to upload a personal statement. This should serve as a cover letter for the research project application as a whole, and should include:

  • An outline of your suitability for the project (project criteria can be found in the "Eligibility" and "Project Description" sections above).
  • Why the project interests you.
  • What you would bring to the project in terms of previous skills and expertise.
  • Any ideas that you may have for the realisation of the project.

How to apply

  1. Apply for admission as a doctoral student beginning in the academic year 2023-24. Please see the advice on Research programmes. After submitting your PhD application, you must allow at least two working days for processing and issue of your log-in details before you can apply for the scholarship. Once you have received an email confirming your access to the My application portal: 
  2. Apply for the scholarship, which is available through the World-Leading Scholarship 1: Personalised, Adaptive, Language-based Planner for next generation Robotics application form. You can access this application through the Scholarships and funding catalogue in the Scholarships and Funding section of My application
    • Enter the catalogue by following the instructions in the email, then choosing Scholarships and funding (under 'Useful links') and then clicking View the scholarships and funding catalogue.
    • Select 2023/4 as the Academic Year and click ‘Refresh list’.
    • Find the World-Leading St Andrews Doctoral Scholarship that you wish to apply for in the list of scholarships (using the filter box if necessary), click Apply and complete the application form.
    • You can also use the catalogue to search and apply for other scholarships for which you are eligible. 

Scholarship application form guidance

If you are a current student at St Andrews, you can access Scholarships and Funding through MySaint. However, you should wait until after you have applied for your intended postgraduate programme before doing so, to ensure that the scholarship application is linked to that course.

Terms and conditions

Please read the University of St Andrews scholarships terms and conditions (opens in new tab) 

If you apply to this scholarship, details from your course application may be passed to the selection panel solely for the purpose of merit-based assessment. 

When will I know the outcome?

The outcome of your scholarship application will be available on View or continue my funding applications in the Scholarships and Funding section of My Application within two months of the application deadline.


Please contact with any enquiries about the scholarship application process.

Informal enquiries regarding this scholarship may be addressed to Dr Juan Ye ( or Dr Kasim Terzic (