University of Primorska Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies

Computer Science (international joint programme with University of St Andrews)


General information

Name of the programme: Computer Science
Partner universities: UP FAMNIT and University of St Andrews, School of Computer Science, UK

Type of programme: Doctoral, 3rd Bologna cycle, international joint
Degree awarded: “doktor znanosti / doktorica znanosti” // Doctor of Philosophy
Language: English
Location: Koper, St Andrews
Duration: 4 years (8 semesters)
ECTS-credits: 240
Mode of study: full-time

Programme coordinatortop

Assoc. Prof. Klen Čopič Pucihar, PhD

For information regarding the study programme please contact Student Services (

About the programmetop

The international joint PhD programme in Computer Science is carried out at the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews (UK) and the Faculty of mathematics, natural sciences and information technologies at the University of Primorska. The programme offers students an international research opportunity where  they need to spend at least one year at each institution.

As computer science is considered one of the most innovative research areas, which is at the same time supporting and transforming other fields of research, we try to fulfill this interdisciplinarity and educate the next generation of leading researchers that will contribute to the future scientific and technological progress. Students will benefit from being mentored by and having access to researchers at both institutions and from the cutting edge laboratory equipment supporting them in the variety of computer science sub-fields and interdisciplinary research. This will allow them to acquire all necessary skills to become highly trained researchers in their field of research.

Educational and professional goalstop

  • Enable in-depth understanding of computer science.
  • To qualify doctoral students for independent, internationally competitive research work in the field of computer science, both in the scientific field and in the field of industrial research.
  • Develop PhD students' ability to work in teams, develop communication and reporting skills in research work, and develop their abilities to work in interdisciplinary teams and fields.
  • The doctoral student's knowledge of his/her research area is raised to the extent that he/she has up-to-date information on outstanding problems or problems that have already been solved.
  • Educate PhD students to be able to use both the theoretical apparatus in problem abstraction and its problem solving, as well as understanding existing tools and concepts that help solve problems, as well as their further development or development of new ones.
  • During his/her studies, the PhD student gets to know the whole "backstage" of the researcher's life (active participation in international conferences, research visits, etc.).

Admission requirementstop

Admission to the 1st year shall be granted to applicants having: 

  • a Master's degree (second cycle); or
  • a degree from a study programme with 300 ECTS-credits; or
  • a degree from a pre-Bologna reform undergraduate study programme.

In the previous study the candidate must achieve a minimum average grade 8.

Each candidate must have a chosen mentor prior to the enrolment (he/she must obtain a written agreement where the mentor agrees with the mentoring of the student) and an indicative work program.

The Faculty highly recommends prior education in the fields of Computer Science, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering for a better performance during the study process.

In case of enrolment restrictions in the 1st year, candidates will be chosen on the basis of:

  • performance demonstrated in their second-cycle studies (average grade, Master’s thesis grade) – 30 %,
  • academic excellence – 70 %.

Priority will be given to candidates already possessing prior education in the following fields: Computer Science, Computer and Mathematical Science, Mathematics, and Electrical Engineering.

Admission may also be gained by an applicant having completed a comparable study abroad. Prior to enrolment the applicant must apply for the recognition of completed education.

Continuation of studies according to the transfer criteriatop

Transfers between study programmes are possible on the basis of the Higher Education Act, Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes and in accordance with other regulations of this field.

The transition between study programmes is the enrolment in the higher year of the study programme, in case of leaving the education at the initial study programme and continuing the study process at another study program of the same degree. The transition takes into account the comparability of the study programmes and the completed study obligations of the candidate in the initial study program.

Access to year 2 or year 3 of the doctoral degree programme of Computer Science on the basis of the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes is open to candidates of a related third-cycle doctoral degree programme, provided that the following conditions have been met:

  • the candidate fulfils the requirements for admission to the study programme of Computer Science;
  • completion of the first study programme which the candidate is transferring from ensures the acquisition of comparable competencies as those envisaged by the study programme of Computer Science; and
  • other conditions in accordance with the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes have also been met (a comparable course structure, course requirements completed).

Entry into Year 2 of the doctoral degree programme of Computer Science on the basis of the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes is also open to graduates of a related pre-Bologna reform Master’s degree programme.

Individual applications for transfer shall be considered by the relevant committee of UP FAMNIT. Apart from comparability between both fields of study, the committee shall also consider comparability between the study programmes, in accordance with the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes. The applicant may also be required to complete differential exams as defined by the relevant Faculty committee.

Enrolment on the basis of the Criteria for Transferring between Study Programmes is also open to candidates of a related study programme abroad who have been, in the process of recognition of their studies abroad, legally granted the right to continue their educational training in the study programme of Computer Science.

In the case of limited enrolment, applicants shall be selected on the basis of the average grade obtained during the study programme they are transferring from (30 %) and academic excellence (70 %).

Course structuretop

The study programme Computer Science lasts 4 years. The partner institutions agree on which institution the student will be pursuing in each of the four years. Students must complete at least one year of study at each institution. Students decide on the rest of the study (2 years) in agreement with the mentor. Their decision must be approved by the Commission for the quality of implementation of the joint doctoral program.

The content and structure of the study programme are presented below.

The main components of the study programme are the following:

  • in-depth courses in computer science,
  • individual research work,
  • seminars,
  • external elective courses,
  • doctoral dissertation.
Table 1: Structure of the study programme
Year of study  Study obligation  ECTS-credits (ECTS)
ECTS ECTS/Year of study
1. External elective course 5 60
In-depth course in computer science I 9
In-depth course in computer science II 9
Individual research work 31
Seminar 1 6
2. External elective course 5 60
In-depth course in computer science III 9
In-depth course in computer science IV 9
Individual research work 25
Seminar 2 6
Seminar 3 6
3. Individual research work 54 60
Seminar 4 6
4. Individual research work (doctoral disertation) 54 60
Seminar 5 6

External elective course

During the 1st and the 2nd year, students complete a total of 2 external electives in a total of 10 ECTS credits. They are intended for acquiring scientific research skills, such as: communication in science, writing scientific texts, presenting scientific achievements to the scientific, professional and general public, and knowledge of methodological principles for designing, analyzing and planning experiments.

The following elective courses are accredited within the study program:

  • Scientific skills - Design and analysis of planned experiments (5 ECTS-credits)
  • Scientific skills - Scientific writing and presentation (5 ECTS-credits).

Students may also take the external elective course at other members of the University of Primorska and the University of St Andrews.

The University of St Andrews offers this kind of content through the Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD), which offers an extremely wide range of lectures with relevant content (Getting started bundle; Carrying out my research bundle; Dealing with my data bundle; Writing and publishing bundle; Finishing up bundle).

At UP Faculty of Management, the courses are Quantitative methodology of research work and Qualitative methodology of research work.

The eligibility of selected external elective courses is confirmed by the Commission for the quality of implementation of the joint doctoral study program, if the chosen subject is substantially aligned with the objectives of the study program.

In-depth courses in computer science

The in-depth course represents one of the core research areas of the student's doctoral study. The courses contain the latest knowledge in computer science. 

These courses may be taken by the student either within the enrolled study program or anywhere on a comparable study program in agreement with their mentor; in agreement with the mentor, and especially in the case of interdisciplinary study, these subjects may also be from other disciplines. Students may choose an in-depth course either from a set of courses in graduate study or by arranging with the tutor and course provider to individually deliver the course.

Each course is organized in such a way that the lecturer introduces the topic in the introductory lectures, which students then upgrade with independent study of literature (articles) and preparation of scientific articles. The latter are presented in the framework of doctoral seminars where a discussion on the field is being carried out.

The courses fall into one of the following areas:

  • Selected topics in mathematical methods in computer science 1
  • Selected topics in mathematical methods in computer science 2
  • Selected topics in data structures and algorithms 1
  • Selected topics in data structures and algorithms 2
  • Selected topics in software development 1
  • Selected topics in software development 2
  • Selected topics in computer systems 1
  • Selected topics in computer systems 2
  • Selected topics in computer interactions 1
  • Selected topics in computer interactions 2


As part of the seminar, students present partial results of their research work. The results of the work must be presented orally. The quality of the results of the research work should be at a level that allows the student to publish one paper per year at the relevant conference or scientific journal. In 1st Year, this can be a local conference or a journal, and later an international conference.

During the seminar, students are also expected to attend presentations of other students and actively participate in discussions.

Individual research work

Individual research work represents scientific research work of a student on his doctoral topic, which the student performs under the guidance and in cooperation with his mentor.

Doctoral dissertation (PhD Thesis)

The Doctoral dissertation is an original contribution to science and has to conform to the University PhD rules and regulations. Original research results are presented by students at national and international conferences and journals. The Doctoral dissertation may also be a collection of related scientific contributions that the student has presented at national and international conferences.

At least one of these contributions must have been granted publication in a quality review (either presented at a conference or published in a journal). When these contributions have been previously published in international sources, while the majority of the doctoral thesis is not written in English, the aforementioned contribution may still be included in the thesis in English.

The procedure for preparing a doctoral dissertatio is regulated by the Rules on the preparation and defence of the doctoral dissertation at the University of Primorska.

Advancement requirements and completion of studiestop

Advancement requirements

Students may enroll in the 2nd year upon acquiring 42 ECTS-credits in the first study year, or, exceptionally, at least 31 ECTS-credits upon the mentor’s recommendation. At the same time, students must pass the examination of completed study and research obligations in the first year by a committee of at least three lecturers from both universities.

Students may enroll in the 3rd year upon acquiring 42 ECTS-credits of the second study year. In doing so, they must also complete individual research work in the 2nd Year, apply for a doctoral dissertation and complete all 1st year study obligations (60 ECTS credits). Again, students must pass the examination of completed study and research obligations in the 2nd year.

Students may enroll in the 4th year if they have a doctoral dissertation and completed all study obligations of 1st and 2nd year (120 ECTS credits) and individual research work in 3rd year. Again, students must pass the examination of completed study and research obligations in the 3rd year.

Exceptionally, a student may enroll in the next year of study, even if he / she has not fulfilled all the required obligations, in case of justified reasons, such as: motherhood, longer illness, exceptional family and social circumstances, recognized status persons with special needs, active participation in top professional, cultural and sport events, active participation in the bodies of the University. Competent commissions at both partner institutions decide about the enrollment. A student who achieves above-average study results is allowed to advance more quickly. The decision is taken by the UP FAMNIT Senate and St Andrews University upon the candidate's request and the reasoned opinion of the aforementioned committee responsible. The decision determines the manner of faster progress. A student who has not fulfilled all the obligations of the study programme for enrollment in the next year of study may, subject to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, repeat the year at the time of study.

Completion of studies

Students prepare a doctoral dissertation, which represents a new significant contribution to the global treasury of knowledge in the field of computer science. The work must be published (or accepted for publication) in an international journal before submitting a PhD thesis, in at least one article in SCI-listed journals.

In order to complete the study programme and obtain the scientific title of Doctor of Philosophy, the student must complete all the requirements of the study program and successfully publicly defend the doctoral dissertation.

Graduate competenciestop

General competencies

  • The ability to carry out research work independently and creatively.
  • The ability to acquire, select, understand, evaluate, interpret, relate and apply new knowledge to his/her work.
  • The ability to clearly define goals in assigned tasks.
  • The ability to use existing, modern and developing new research methods, procedures, approaches and theoretical grounds.
  • The ability to lead research and other projects.
  • The ability to adapt and present his/her research work to different target groups.
  • The ability to communicate in the international environment.
  • The ability to work in the wider community.
  • The ability to look critically at what is happening in the wider social context.

Subject-specific competencies

  • The ability to argue professionally, knowledge and understanding of computer science as a discipline, including its sub-disciplines.
  • The ability to integrate computer science skills with various other fields and incorporate them into concrete solutions.
  • The ability to interpret new findings and critically evaluate both own and others research results, claims and opinions in the field of computer science.
  • The ability to apply theories, methods and procedures of mathematics and computer science.
  • The ability to analyze, synthesize and anticipate solutions to area-related factors and their consequences.
  • The ability to solve concrete, demanding and complex research problems in the field of computer science, design and implementation of original scientific solutions.
  • The ability to put new technologies and knowledge into practice.
  • The ability to place the field of computer science in a broader social context.
  • The ability to present scientific results in the computer science and society in global scale.

Graduate employment opportunitiestop

The international joint PhD programme covers the theoretical and practical applications of research in the field that involves a multitude of areas and sub-disciplines, including computer architecture, computer theory and scientific computing, programming languages, cryptography, and human-computer interaction. Computer Science is one of the fastest growing economic branches and provides graduates with countless employment opportunities. Whatever the sub-discipline graduates usually follow a career in research either in academia or public and private research and development laboratories and company divisions.

Tuition feetop

  • The TUITION FEE for each year of study is determined in the Price list UP FAMNIT.
  • The CO-FUNDING OF DOCTORAL STUDIES will be open to all students who meet the requirements from the Decree on co-Financing of doctoral studies and Criteria for the selection of candidates for co-funding tuition fees in doctoral studies at the University of Primorska. More information is available here.