Postgraduate study

YCCSA, through its constituent departments, offers a range of opportunities for postgraduate study.

Taught and Research Masters programmes

Academic staff from YCCSA are involved in the delivery of a range of taught and research Masters Programmes. The programmes we are involved in tend to be those that cross disciplines.

Taught Masters programmes

Research Masters programmes

PhD research

PhD Research

The York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA) is a community of researchers from different departments who work across traditional disciplines. As an YCCSA PhD student you are likely to find yourself co-supervised by two or more staff from different departments. This gives you direct access to different expertise and underlines the inter-disciplinary nature of YCCSA PhD projects.

The environment is relaxed with interaction and creativity actively encouraged, creating a culture of willing collaboration at all levels. This means that YCCSA is a stimulating environment for graduate students allowing lots of informal contact with researchers.

Our informal research environment is very important in our support of early-stage researchers. We encourage young researchers to raise their horizon beyond their own personal research project. There are opportunities to get involved in YCCSA in many different ways, such as creating research proposals, public engagement activities and a range of social events.

We believe research should be fun, exciting and world-class.
In YCCSA, it is.



Past and present YCCSA Graduate students speak:

Wong, Celina
... the research student, and their opinion, is valued and heard

Celina Wong

‌I am currently in the second year of my PhD, which is jointly funded by the department of Biology and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).  My undergraduate degree was in Mathematics, before I came to York to study an MRes in Mathematics and the Living Environment, a joint degree between Mathematics and Biology.  My PhD project is highly interdisciplinary and leads to many opportunities to learn about other subject areas.

For example, at the end of my first year, I joined a CEFAS scientific survey team on the North Sea for two weeks.  This survey was part of a collaborative effort between 5 other North Sea boundary countries, collecting data for Defra and ICES.  Working with this team allowed me to understand how survey data is collected, the limitations to the methods used and also the amount of detailed life history data that can be collected.  It was a unique experience which, as a mathematician, I had never expected to have come my way.

YCCSA as a department is a very informal place, where a lot of interaction takes place over tea and coffee (and possibly cakes and doughnuts!).  The staff and the Research Associates are very easy to talk to, and happy to discuss their own past experiences.  There are many opportunities to meet other people in YCCSA, from the tea breaks to the Friday group discussions, to the yearly Away Days.  YCCSA is a place where the research student, and their opinion, is valued and heard. 

Bode, Nikolai

... a vast pool of resources

Nikolai Bode

I am currently working on a PhD in YCCSA which is funded via the department of Biology. The area of my research could be described briefly as "Improving our understanding of collective animal motion via mathematical models". My project is supervised by Dan Franks and Jamie Wood and between the three of us we are involved in three departments (Biology, Maths, Computer Science).

For my research this blend of departmental affiliations in YCCSA is extremely useful and stimulating. Not only does it inspire new ideas by introducing me to different concepts and ways of thinking but it also opens up a vast pool of resources and expertise through my supervisor's or my acquaintances. To illustrate this inter-disciplinary approach consider the fact that as a maths graduate without previous experimental experience I was involved in an empirical study within the first year of my PhD.

When starting work in YCCSA more than a year ago I was surprised by how informal YCCSA is. For a fresh PhD student this is great as it is not necessary to study etiquette before daring to approach the experienced academic staff with questions/problems!
Droop, Alastair

There is a feeling of informality ...

Alastair Droop

I did a joint-supervised (between YCCSA and Biology) PhD between 2005 and 2009.  As my topic was on the edge of biology, statistics and computer science, having a place in the YCCSA was extremely helpful for me.

Investigating topics that cross standard disciplines can be very difficult, as support is often difficult to find.  Being in YCCSA allowed me to talk frequently to experts in a very wide range of fields, vastly increasing my exposure and confidence with the areas of research I was interested in.

The atmosphere in YCCSA is very different to that in more ‘traditional’ departments.  There is a feeling of informality which allows PhD students to interact easily with research fellows and professors which would (in many other places) feel ‘too high’ to talk to.  I found this attitude very constructive. As there are PhD students in YCCSA from several departments, the peer group support is also very strong.  I found that my contemporaries could often help me overcome problems I had with my work, preventing me from wasting a lot of time.

I found my time in YCCSA to be very influential in shaping my thinking about science.  I have stayed on with a postdoctoral post in YCCSA.
Nellis, Adam

... being around people from different disciplines is part of everyday life.

Adam Nellis

My background is in Computer Science and Mathematics, and I am doing a PhD with the Computer Science department. I am part of YCCSA and a member of the PLAZZMID project, which is an inter-disciplinary collaboration between the departments of Computer Science, Biology and Electronics.

The PLAZZMID project started because YCCSA brings together academics from different disciplines. Over casual conversation, three academics from different departments realised they had common research interests. That interest developed into a large project that has three PIs, two RAs and two PhD students, from three different departments.

Because of the inter-disciplinary nature of PLAZZMID, the project can only be successful in an environment such as YCCSA, where being around people from different disciplines is part of everyday life. In this setting, informal contact with people from other areas is inevitable, and it is this contact that is what YCCSA is all about. It is easy to chat to people from different departments, with different levels of experience and academic seniority. These informal discussions can have massive benefits for your work, where ideas that are obvious to people from one discipline can be profound insights when applied to problems in a different discipline. Also, the informal atmosphere makes it easy to start small projects with people from different areas with different skill sets. And these small projects have the potential to grow into larger projects such as PLAZZMID.
Read, Mark

... a pro-active culture of eagerness

Mark Read

I am currently undertaking an interdisciplinary PhD that spans computer science and immunology. In a nutshell, my research seeks to understand an autoimmune disease that resembles multiple sclerosis through the application of agent based modelling and simulation techniques.

The research I am conducting has been challenging, yet hugely enjoyably. Since I came from a computer science background I spent the first year of study reading immunology and becoming familiar with the particular autoimmune disease that I model. Having seen how this research has progressed, I believe that there is a great future for interdisciplinary research and collaboration, marrying techniques, approaches and theory from different disciplines in pushing science forward, but it requires the right kind of people working in a conducive environment.

I feel that what YCCSA is, and offers, is quite unique: a tight knit melting pot of open minded researchers from an impressive range of academic backgrounds, all of whom understand the inherent (if not always obvious) advantage in taking time to share ideas, and being willing to collaborate with one another across their respective disciplines. I believe that this pro-active culture of eagerness to work together in exploring the possibilities of interdisciplinary research can only mean great things for the future of YCCSA and those in it.