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School of Computer Science

Research projects

Find a postgraduate research project in your area of interest by exploring the research projects that we offer in the School of Computer Science.

We have a broad range of research projects for which we are seeking doctoral students. Browse the list of projects on this page or follow the links below to find information on doctoral training opportunities, or applying for a postgraduate research programme.

Alternatively, if you would like to propose your own project then please include a research project proposal and the name of a possible supervisor with your application.

Available projects

Definitions in Ontologies

Primary supervisor

Additional information

Contact admissions office

Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Competition Funded Project (European/UK Students Only)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

An ontology is a machine-processable description of the concepts that are relevant in some application domain, e.g., in molecular biology. It fixes a vocabulary for these concepts, describes their meaning, and captures relevant background knowledge. Ontologies are widely used (and developed) in a variety of knowledge intensive areas, including bio-health. They are written in some ontology language, e.g., OWL, which can be regarded as a decidable fragment of first order logic. Various communities have developed repositories of ontologies so that they can be shared, and some have developed quality criteria to spread good practice in ontology design.

One good practice that is widely acknowledged is that each concept that is captured in an ontology should be annotated with a good definition in natural language, e.g., English, and there is a good understanding of what a good definition is. Now given that (the logical part of) our ontology fixes terms and their relations, and given that we know we are looking at definitions of these, we should be able to automatically assess the quality of the natural language definitions given, analyse their relation with the logical constraints and relations described in the ontology, support the ontology developer in improving those constraints from the natural language definitions, and also support the ontology developer in improving the natural language definitions from these constraints.

A student taking this project should have knowledge of and interest in at least some of the relevant areas, i.e., logics in general, Description Logics and OWL, ontologies, natural language processing.

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.
  • You will have good time management.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?