Funded PhD Positions Available

Three fully funded PhD Studentships: European research Council EPIC (Evolving Program Improvement Collaborators) project.

The UCL CREST centre ( is offering up to three fully funded PhD studentships in the general area of Search Based Software Engineering (SBSE (

The studentships will be on the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced fellowship grant EPIC (Evolving Program Improvement Collaborators) project, held by Mark Harman.
The key idea is that evolutionary computation can evolve software  improvement collaborators; automated tools that offer specifically-evolved, explained and experimentally-justified  advice on software improvements that optimise operational performance, while maintaining and/or extending functionality.

This "Epi-Collaborator" will make suggestions, including transplantation of code from a donor system to a host, grafting of entirely new features grown (evolved) by the Epi-Collaborator, and identification and optimisation of tuneable deep parameters. A key feature (and an important scientific and technical challenge for the project) is that these suggestions need to be backed by automatically-constructed quantitative evidence that justifies, explains and documents improvements.

EPIC thereby aims to introduce a new way of developing software, as a collaboration between human and machine, integrated into typically continuous integration code review repo frameworks. Rather than seeking to replace human intelligence with artificial intelligence, EPIC thus seeks to understand and exploit the complementary strengths of each: humans' domain and contextual insights and machines' ability to intelligently search large search spaces.

The EPIC project and these studentships are funded by the award of an ERC Advanced Grant to Mark Harman, who will supervise the students, together with a supervisory team, including Dr. Federica Sarro ( and Dr. Earl Barr (, both also eminent software engineering researchers at UCL.

Prof Harman is a professor of Software Engineering at UCL but also an engineering manager at Facebook London (, where he manages the team working on the application of SBSE to automated software test design. Prof. Harman’s joint appointments foster the collaboration between academic research and industry application, where students may see the impact of their research at Facebook scale. 

More details including how to apply, here:


Closing date 28th April 2018


EPSRC project - Automated Software Specialisation Using Genetic Improvement

A fully-funded PhD studentship is available under the supervision of Dr. Justyna Petke ( The student will be required to undertake research in software engineering that is relevant to Dr. Petke's fellowship on automated software specialisation.

The project will utilise and develop novel methods in the field of software engineering, called genetic improvement. GI is a novel field of research that only arose as a standalone area in the last few years. Several factors contributed to the development and success of this field, one of which is the sheer amount of code available online and focus on automated improvement of non-functional properties of software, such as energy or memory consumption. Work on automated software transplantation using GI had already gathered multiple academic awards and media attention with coverage in BBC Click and the Wired magazine, among others.

The goal of the project is to transfer the challenging and time-consuming task of software specialisation from human to machine. It will develop novel approaches for specialising and improving efficiency of generalist software for particular application domains in an automated way. More details are available at the following website:

Informal enquiries can be made by email to Dr. Petke (

Prospective PhD students must apply through the standard UCL admission process

The next deadline for applications is April 27th.

This page was last modified on 13 Mar 2018.