PhD Programme in Cognitive Systems and Visual Computing

The PhD programme in Cognitive Systems and Visual Computing is a joint programme by the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) and the School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University (SCSE, NTU).

The thematic PhD programme aims to nurture highly skilled research professionals and leaders in the fields of cognitive systems and visual computing with the vision of generating broad impact to the future industry's needs in the next 10 years.


Cognitive systems and visual computing are critical enabling technologies for building next generation software systems, especially for the healthcare and new media industries. Although related to data analytics and traditional Artificial Intelligence, cognitive systems provide a broader scope of investigation through the understanding of both human and machine intelligence. This is critical in building advanced tools that interact with human users, for example assistive robots, information agents, and interactive mobile systems. On the other hand, visual computing reinforces the interaction between human and computer using visual media and content which are becoming pervasive via mobile devices and social media.

Through the collaboration between A*STAR I²R and SCSE NTU, PhD candidates in the programme will benefit from the exposure to practical problems and close connection between academic and industrial sectors. Regular seminars will be organised for the students and researchers/staff to share information and update each other on their research. Regular workshops will also be organised for the students to present their research to the relevant industry sectors (for example, homeland security, medical therapy, assisted living, robotics, and mobile consumer applications). These workshops will also facilitate industry's feedback to the students and researchers/staff on industry's trends and problems which could help to better align the students' research to these needs.
Through the collaboration between A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA) and NTU, candidates successfully admitted into the joint PhD programme will be supported fully either by a A*STAR Graduate Scholarship by (AGS) or Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA).

For information on award details and eligibility criteria, please refer to AGS and SINGA.

I²R is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) family. Established in 2002, our mission is to be the globally preferred source of innovations in `Interactive Secured Information, Content and Services Anytime Anywhere' through research by passionate people dedicated to Singapore's economic success. I²R performs R&D in information, communications and media (ICM) technologies to develop holistic solutions across the ICM value chain. Our research capabilities are in information technology, wireless and optical communication networks, interactive and digital media, signal processing and computing. We seek to be the infocomm and media value creator that keeps Singapore ahead.

Candidates will pursue a chosen research topic of interests under the broad areas of cognitive systems and visual computing. The potential research topics of interests may include but are not limited to the following

  • Brain Mapping and Integrated Computational Model
  • Neural Dynamics of Drives and Self-Awareness in Robots
  • Enhanced Visual Memory for Assisted Living
  • Modelling of Group Behavior and Social Cognition
  • Attention-driven Visual Target Search
  • Computational Visual Computing
  • Perceptual based Visual Signal Processing
  • Visual Search, Understanding and Recognition
  • Social Robot Cognition

Each PhD student will be co-supervised by an SCSE faculty member and an I²R research scientist. Existing NTU processes for PhD student supervision, assessment and graduation will be used. The PhD research topic will be jointly identified and agreed upon by the SCSE and I²R supervisors, with the supervisor from SCSE carrying the responsibility for academic affairs.

The PhD candidate should fulfill all the coursework, research and other requirements as stipulated by NTU-SCSE for the award of the PhD degree that will be awarded by NTU.

Specifically, the candidate is expected to fulfill the following requirement.

  1. Complete 18 academic units (with at least two 7XXX series course);
  2. To pass a confirmation examination by the end of 18 months;
  3. To pursue an independent in-depth study of approved research topic, leading to a thesis ;
  4. To pass an oral examination on the subject matter of his/her thesis (thesis defense).

Application for admission for academic year 2017/2018 is now open.
To apply for the PhD programme, you will need

  • A good Bachelor's degree with minimum 2nd class honours upper or Master's degree
  • A good GRE score taken within the past five years
  • A good TOEFL score taken within last 2 years (mandatory for candidates from non-English speaking countries)
  • Outstanding intellectual ability and motivation
  • Relevant research experience and publication records (preferred)

Besides academic performance, the admission committee will also consider your statement of objectives, research interest and letters of reference.

Graduate Admission Information

To apply, qualified applicants should submit two separate sets of applications for admission and scholarship as follows:

PhD (Cognitive Systems and Visual Computing) Programme
School of Computer Science and Engineering
Nanyang Technological University
N4-2a-32, 50 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore 639798