CDT Program

The training programme of the CDT will provide a comprehensive, state-of-the-art view to autonomous intelligent systems; combining theoretical foundations, systems research, academic training and industry-initiated projects and covering a range of topics aligned to four key skills areas. Our programme will intimately mix both practical and theoretical aspects of intelligent machines and systems. Both Engineering and Computer Science at Oxford have an excellent track record of developing practical systems and evaluating them in real applications (e.g. self-driving cars and sensor networks for environmental monitoring).

Year 1
Taught Course Training: In the first two terms of their study, students will take 14 graduate courses. Each module will typically take 1-2 weeks, with the weekly schedule consisting of 2-3 hours of lectures each morning with laboratory sessions in the afternoon. Each module will emphasise case examples from across the breadth of our autonomous systems vision.

Research Training: In the second half of Year 1, we will require students to take two 9 week research projects after the two teaching terms, and will encourage industrial participation in defining and hosting some of these projects. Students will be empowered to choose projects of interest, which normally will be precursors to their DPhil (PhD) study and will help them shape their research topic and further develop their hands-on research skills.

Supervision: Over the first year all students have an academic supervisor who is a member of the core academic staff of the CDT. Students will meet their supervisor regularly throughout this period, as a means of assessing progress and discussing academic issues.

Years 2-4
PhD Research and Supervision: A summary of potential research projects will be produced each year by the list of approved supervisors. In addition students are encouraged to devise projects based on their own research ideas and develop a project in collaboration with potential supervisors. All projects will be vetted by the CDT Management team. Students will select a project and their main research supervisor at the beginning of Year 2. Throughout the research component, primary academic responsibility for the student will reside with their research supervisors, but for each student a member of the core CDT management team will act as a mentor throughout the Programme, offering advice and guidance, both academic and pastoral.

Transferable Skills Training: We aim to train students in four critical areas: 1) Communication & academic skills: this includes academic reading, writing and presentation skills. 2) Business & commercial: this includes innovation & I.P. curatorship and entrepreneurship. 3) Career & development: this will include training on future employment planning and engagement with the University’s careers services. 4) Ethics, society & law: we will organise an annual mini-course on ethics, in which students will be asked to consider the ethical implications of building autonomous intelligent machines and systems.

Other activities
Research Seminars: Student and faculty interactions will be continually encouraged in a research seminar series, that all CDT cohorts will attend, and where they will have the chance to meet students from different cohorts, as well as those outside the CDT but researching in the AIMS area. The research seminars will be used to discuss research papers, and as a vehicle for rehearsing conference talks, and building links between different groups.

Annual Workshop: The focus of this annual activity is to provide our students with the opportunity to present the results of their research to other students, industrial partners, and invited researchers from other universities. As part of this we will invite our industrial collaborators to share the latest problems and market trends, and discuss opportunities for future collaboration with our students.

Internships and industrial placements into Oxford: Industry and commerce will also have an active participation in the CDT programme via student internships in their labs, but also placements of industrial partners to work in Oxford with our students. Our students will spend 1-2 months over the first or second summer in an industrial lab to gain experience in industry-led projects, expand their horizons by engaging in an AIMS topic that is related to but not necessarily the same as their thesis. After the end of the internship, we will encourage further interaction by inviting their industrial supervisors to join the student’s research group in Oxford for short periods of time.

Outreach Activities: We plan for a two day outreach event in the training programme, during which our students will be encouraged to take demonstrations of the systems that they have built during their group project, individual short research project, or later on as part of their PhD research, and show them to beneficiaries, such as companies, government departments, as well as schools and local communities.

Organisation and Leadership Skills Training: In the fourth year, the cohort will be asked to help organise the annual workshop, inviting keynote speakers, participating in the program committee, reviewing papers submitted by 2nd and 3rd year students, and publicising the workshop to universities and industrial partners beyond those directly involved in the CDT. The development of a positive group dynamic between year groups, and the progressive increase of responsibility will prepare our students for leadership roles in industry and academia.