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University of Auckland
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Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Systems Engineering

This course is available


Level of Study

Doctoral Degree


3 years

Next start date

Expected Feb 2023


Grafton Campus


The PhD is a globally recognised postgraduate research degree and the highest level of degree you can achieve. PhD students are critical, curious, creative thinkers who undertake original research over at least 3 years.

This course is also offered at overseas locations.

Computer Systems Engineering

Computer Systems Engineering focuses on the development of both software and hardware skills for designing and building the smart products that are an integral part of our wired world.

Computer systems now pervade almost every aspect of our world. Computers are hidden within a vast number of electro-mechanical environments, and this ubiquity is only expected to increase. This specialisation is particularly known to affect the fields of robotics, autonomous vehicles, medical devices, industrial automation systems and smart technologies. Their practitioners are diverse, with understanding in areas that range from bioengineering to software development.

Computer systems engineers solve problems by creating systems that possess a computer embedded within a large operation. With knowledge in hardware and software, they ensure that these products can make decisions and function in the real world. Graduates are therefore equipped with practical skills that do not conform to current technological trends, but future-proofed knowledge that will ensure that they can be at the forefront of change in industry.

Programme structure

The University of Auckland PhD is a three-to-four year full-time advanced research degree.

On possible to the PhD programme, you will be enrolled provisionally. By the end of your first year, you must meet a number of goals to be confirmed into the PhD programme, including developing a full thesis proposal. After confirmation, you will continue to work on your research before submitting your thesis for examination after three years and within four years of your start date. The examination process includes an oral exam.

As part of your PhD study, you can take part in our doctoral skills programme, designed to help you achieve success in your research and develop skills for your future. We have a dedicated postgraduate careers advisor, and our library service includes specialist subject librarians to help you in your research. The central School of Graduate Studies provides dedicated support and advice for the doctoral community.

Where can Computer Systems Engineering take you?

Computer systems engineers are unique, as they understand the principles underpinning the hardware of computing and embedded systems technology, as well as the software that makes it “smart”. This means that opportunities are as vast as the rapidly expanding industry areas where innovative design and product development are prominent. The rising prominence of objects connecting to each other – the Internet of Things – also suggests a stronger need for competent computer systems engineers with in-depth knowledge. Our graduates usually work for multinational computer companies, consulting firms, telecommunications agencies, or in research and development teams involving new intelligent systems, manufacturing, and resource planning.

Entry criteria

Masters-level qualification or the equivalent of a bachelor's degree with honours

Evidence of significant research, usually undertaken as part of prior study

IELTS (Academic): Overall score of 6.5 and no bands less than 6.0; Internet-based TOEFL (iBT): Overall score of 90 and written score of 21; Paper-based TOEFL: Overall score of 68 and a writing score of 21; Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) or Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE): Overall score of 176 and no bands below 169; Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic: Overall score of 58 and no PTE Communicative score below 50; Foundation Certificate in English for Academic Purposes (FCertEAP): Grade of B-; Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB): 85.

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