artificial intelligence brain

Knowledge-Guided Machine Learning for Optimization Problems

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

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

Application deadline: 25 October 2023

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2024

For further details contact: Dr Matthew England 

Project introduction

This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Coventry University, the following year at Deakin University and then the final 1.5 years at Coventry University.

The supervision team will be drawn from the two Universities.

Project details

Knowledge-guided Machine Learning is a growing trend in Artificial Intelligence, where physical models of a phenomenon are used to draw examples to be used in conjunction with already available data. This project will explore the development of Machine Learning models to develop solutions to optimization algorithms that have notoriously high complexity, such as Travelling Sales person problem, Convex Hull, Delaunay Triangulation. The project will explore Pointer Networks and their variants, as well as cutting edge transformer-based models and study their application to development of machine learning models.


Tuition fees, bursary and stipend.


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.

Candidate specification

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates).
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has a 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first – class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer – reviewed publications, research – related awards or prizes and/ or professional reports.
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study

For an overview of each University's entry requirements please visit:

Cotutelle PhD Programmes

Research degree entry pathways

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Additional requirements

Candidates are expected to have studied either Computer Science / Data Science or Mathematics. High level programming skills are essential.

To find out more about the project before application please contact Dr Matthew England along with your CV and transcript.

How to apply

All applications should be accompanied by a 2000-word supporting statement. Approximately half of the statement should be used for the applicant to describe the project topic in their own words with reference to relevant literature they find. The other half of the statement should be used by the applicant to identify how their own skills and knowledge make them suitable for the project.

All candidates must apply to both Universities.

Apply to Deakin University
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023