PhD Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence Powered Blockchain Solutions for Financial Applications  (2020 Entry)

 Reference: 2003TM_XPH
 Length of Scholarships: up to 36 months, subject to satisfactory progression
 Programme PhD Finance
School/Department Nottingham University Business School China
 Place:  1
 Closing Date:  15 May 2020
  1. BS (if applicable) or MS in mathematics, computer science or related fields
  2. Experience with any programming language, such as Java, Python, go, C/C++, etc.
  3. Hands-on experience with either peer-to-peer technologies, distributed computing and/or cloud computing.


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: Research in Artificial Intelligence Powered Blockchain Solutions for Financial Applications

The developments of blockchain and AI technologies in finance industry are most promising, but they are still at early stages. An enormous amount of computational power along with the ability to collect and analyze huge amounts of complex data has been achieved. AI has been realized extraordinary advancements in algorithms and data analytics, providing tools for data analysis and decision making. However, the translation of these advances into practical application is slow due to the extraordinary complexity and the dynamics of human world. Blockchain research has mainly been focused on cryptocurrencies, leaving other areas, such as logistics, intellectual property protection and supply chain finance not well explored. 

Financial technology (FinTech) is rapidly transforming the economy and the financial landscape. The main research topics in FinTech include technology development (networks, communication, software, latency), design (security, privacy, scalability, reliability), and applications (analytics – risk analysis, currency exchange).

The PhD project will focus on research questions and activities:

  1. How can we combine blockchain and AI for analysis of financial time series? 
  2. How can we combine blockchain and AI to achieve more accurate future asset pricing?
  3. Development of new AI-driven algorithms suitable for data analytics over the blockchain data. 
  4. Development of new technological solutions for FinTech blockchain applications.

This research project will focus on theoretical and/or applied work that will enable innovation of infrastructure and processes in financial business world. The value creation will focus on the technology and algorithmic innovation based on a strong theoretical basis spanning information technology, artificial intelligence, and financial science. The solution prototypes will be rapidly tested using computer modeling followed with actual implementation in our Blockchain Laboratory. The PhD will work in UNNC-NFTZ Blockchain Laboratory, jointly built by the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) and Ningbo Free Trade Zone (NFTZ), with the mission of advancing the research and development of blockchain-based technologies for use in Business, Finance, Economics and all other areas of potential impact.

The doctoral student will be supervised by an interdisciplinary panel of researchers, Prof. Xiuping Hua (Professor in Finance), Prof. Vladimir Brusic (Li Dak Sum Chair Professor in Computer Science) and Dr. Yixiang Xu (Associate Professor at the School of Aerospace). We have composed an interdisciplinary team to stimulate the innovation in this project and increase productivity.

Informal inquiries may be addressed to Jack Zhou (, but formal applications should follow the instructions in ‘How to apply’ section. Please specify 2003TM_XPH as scholarship reference code when submitting application.

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.