Artificial Intelligence PhD Excellence Scholarship with Microsoft Research Asia Internship (2020 Entry)
 Reference: 20043MSRA
 Length of Scholarships: up to 36 months, subject to satisfactory progression
 Places:  4
 Closing Date:  Open till filled

School of Computer Science, UNNC shall collaborate with top scientists from Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) to jointly recruit and train PhD students on the topics of artificial intelligence, optimisation and their applications in transportation and logistics

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
  • An internship opportunity at Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) will be available in Year 2 should the student’s academic performance in Year 1 meet the requirement of MSRA. If a student successfully secures an MSRA internship, the stipend for the duration of the student’s MSRA internship shall be replaced with MSRA standard internship allowance plus accommodation.

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 research shall focus on forefront technologies in artificial intelligence, optimisation, data analytics, machine learning and their applications in solving difficult transportation and logistics problems, including

  • Reinforcement learning
  • Evolutionary computation/Metaheuristics/Hyper-heuristics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Operations Research
  • Real-life transportation/logistics optimisation

Supervisory Team

The supervision team of each student includes two top academics from the School of Computer Science (UNNC/UNUK), and NUBS China, and one MSRA full-time researcher. Students shall have excellent opportunities to work in MSRA as student interns. At present, the supervisors from MSRA are:

Dr. Tie-Yan Liu
Dr. Weidong Ma
Professor Ruibin Bai
Professor Alain Chong
Professor Graham Kendall
Dr. Rong Qu
Dr.Jiawei Li
Dr. Zhen Tan

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.