PhD Scholarship in Deep-Learning based Automated Assessment of Laparoscopic Surgery Skill (2020 Entry)
 Reference: 2003HTC_YW
 Length of Scholarships: up to 36 months, subject to satisfactory progression
 Programme PhD Computer Science & Operations Research
 School/Department School of Computer Science
 Place:  1
 Closing Date:  15 May 2020


The available PhD scholarships cover:

  • Tuition fee
  • Monthly stipend (RMB4,500)
  • Medical insurance with designate providers
  • All above items are covered for up to 36 months based on satisfactory progression
  • All regulations set out in the UNNC PGR Scholarship Policy apply

In addition to the above scholarship, successful candidates also have the opportunity to carry out paid teaching (after complete Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) training) or research assistant duties at UNNC from second year.

Available PhD research areas:

The above scholarship is to support research projects outlined under the following theme: 

Title of the theme: Deep-Learning based Automated and Objective Assessment of Operative Skill in Laparoscopic Surgery

Compared to traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery has many advantages, such as less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss and so on. However, due to its indirect observation of the surgery site, it could be challenging for surgeons to carry out such a surgery. One major challenge to improving these outcomes is that surgeons currently lack individualized, objective feedback on their operative technique and how to improve it. Manual assessment of surgeon performance requires expert supervision which is both subjective and time consuming, with many surgeries lasting hours. Real time automated surgical video analysis could provide a way to objectively and efficiently assess operative skills in laparoscopic surgery. In this PhD project, we propose a new approach via using deep learning to automatically assess operative skill by tracking and analyzing laparoscopic surgical tool movements, and detecting the spatial bounds of surgical tools in addition to their presence. We address the task of spatial surgical tool detection in real-world laparoscopic surgical videos, which to our knowledge has not been previously studied. We extract key quantitative and qualitative metrics that reflect operative skill, ultimately setting the stage for higher-level analysis of surgical performance.

Informal inquiries may be addressed to Dr. Ying Weng (ying.weng@nottingham.edu.cn), but formal applications should follow the instructions in ‘How to apply’ section. 

PhD programme structure

PhD programmes at the UNNC are composed of 3 years research and submission is expected within 3 years for full-time students. PhD supervision is undertaken jointly by academics from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) and the University of Nottingham UK (UNUK). On successful completion, students will be awarded the University of Nottingham PhD degree, and no reference will be made on the degree certificate as to where the degree has been completed. The University of Nottingham PhD degree will be accredited by the Chinese Ministry of Education.


  • Applicants must have a first class honours undergraduate degree or 65% and above for a Masters’ degree from a British university, or the equivalent from other institutions.
  • Applicants must meet the required English language proficiency for the relevant subject area. IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all elements) or its equivalent is required for Faculty of Science and Engineering (FoSE) scholarship applicants.
  • More details can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ page of the website.

How to apply

No separate application is required for applying for a scholarship but please make sure you quote the scholarship reference number in your PhD application form. It normally takes 7-8 weeks for a final decision to be made after the closing date.  List of required documents can be found on the ‘how to apply’ page.