AI-IoST: Artificial Intelligence Towards Reliable, Resilient and Timely Internet of Space Things

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Tuition fees and a bursary

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2023

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

For further details contact: Dr Fatma Benkhelifa 


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship which includes tuition fees and living expenses over 3.5 years.

Project details

Internet of Things (IoT) is driving sustainability and economic growth. Yet, IoT is still out of reach in remote areas and hostile environments like mountains and oceans. To connect the unconnected, this PhD project proposes to study the Internet of Space Things (IoST) where devices have direct access to flying platforms (e.g., drones, low Earth orbit, CubeSats). IoST's advantages include: (i) no need for terrestrial infrastructure, (ii) improved line of sight, and (iii) better suitability in digitally inaccessible regions. However, IoST face challenges from inherent IoT (low power, small size) and satellites (massive number, constellation size, Doppler shift) feature.

This PhD project will design a novel statistical model via a computer-based simulator considering: i) energy limitations at IoT devices and satellites; (ii) massive number of satellites with multi-beam generative payloads and inter-satellite links. Novel control access protocols and sensing policies will be developed to maximize reliability, energy efficiency, and freshness of information, quantifying how up to date the information is when successfully received. Reinforcement learning and deep Q learning will be used. The project outcomes will provide lightweight solutions guaranteeing satisfactory performance, identifying network bounds, and giving guidelines to overcome network limitations.

We are seeking to appoint a PhD student in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science to join a team of researchers with expertise in communication theory, artificial intelligence and sensor networks.

The candidate will be supervised by Dr Fatma Benkhelifa and Prof. James Brusey who have strong expertise in AI and sensor networks. The candidate will have the opportunity to have a three-month internship at Satellite Applications Catapult.


Tuition fees and bursary.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

PhD Placement in Industry (3-months)

The successful candidate will benefit from a three-month PhD placement at Satellite Applications Catapult under the supervision of the Ubiquitous Connectivity (UC) team headed by Dr Ashweeni Beeharee. During the secondment the PhD student will work on propagation and development of statistical models for satellite and IoT networks, testing and refining their theoretical work in the in-house testbed facilities at Westcott 5G Centre and Harwell (Satcom Lab).

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in Engineering (Electrical Engineering, Telecommunications), or Computer Science and/or data science or any related area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

 For further details please visit:

Additional requirements
  • Good knowledge of mathematics, communication theory, optimization, programming skills are highly desired.
  • Demonstrated software development capability.

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Fatma Benkhelifa.

Details of all available research opportunities at Coventry University can be found via

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, and an up-to 2000-word supporting statement is required showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

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