Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Computing

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part-time PhD project, to commence in October 2020 or February 2021. The PhD will be based in the School of Computing and will be supervised by Dr Claudia Iacob and Dr Mo Adda.

User generated online content, such as software issues and online reviews, has democratised software development. Nowadays, teams of developers share remote repositories and synchronise via issue tracker systems. Apps are being deployed at a click of a button on platforms such as app stores.

Such platforms have a global audience and facilitate sharing intermediary versions of systems for the sole purpose of getting feedback on their functionality or suggestions for new features. End users review software systems at any point in their development, in the environment the systems were designed for, and in great numbers. Such reviews often report bugs, comment of existing features, or suggest new features or improvements. Developers have easy access to user feedback via reviews, and can incorporate such feedback in the development process on an on-going basis and without even meeting the users in person.

The challenge, however, is that the landscape has shifted far swifter than the supporting frameworks for it have been developed. Issue tracker systems support thousands of developers working together, but their design is primitive and makes it difficult to keep track of the process over a long period of time. The links between the issues reported for a repository and the repository itself are difficult to identify, and the process is entirely manual. App reviews are written in massive numbers and informally, so making sense of them all or identifying patterns are challenging tasks.

While previous studies have shown that a large percentage of the feedback reported via reviews is relevant to app development, there is very limited support in automatically integrating such feedback in development processes. This project aims to provide the framework and tools required to translate user generated online content into software development artefacts.

 The work on this project will:

  • Provide automatic identification of development relevant data in user generated online content – e.g. security vulnerabilities, usability reports, scenarios of use, etc.
  • Provide summarisation of user generated content, eg. reviews of issues summaries.
  • Provide translation of user generated content into development artefacts, eg. feature requests reported via reviews into requirements specification, bug fixes into code skeletons.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an Civil Engineering or related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

  • A first-class BSc or an MSc Degree in computer science or software engineering
  • Extensive programming experience, preferably web programming
  • Experience with qualitative data analysis, formal languages, and natural language processing
  • Excellent communication skills

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Claudia Iacob ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code CCTS4900219.

When you're ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Computing and Creative Technologies’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  

Our How to Apply page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now