Robotic brachytherapy

Closed to applications.


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Faculty of Environment and Technology, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by Above and Beyond: Ref 1920-JUL-FET11

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 July 2020.

The closing date for applications is 15 April 2020. 

Studentship details

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) have an exciting PhD post within a team of roboticists, surgeons and machine learning researchers working on a project which will lead to the accurate and reproducible delivery of novel cancer therapy. The PhD will involve the creation of novel robotic methods for the positioning probes and anti-cancer treatment within soft tissues having differential compliances and haptic feedback. In the first instance the focus will be the treatment of prostate cancer, however, the outcome has the potential for adaptation post PhD for implementation across various treatment pathways for different cancers which involve internal treatment of soft tissues.

In the world, millions of people take prostate biopsies and brachytherapy per year. The success depends on precise needle placement which targeted to the focal lesions. Needle steering, which requires a flexible needle (eg bevel-tip needle) and controls the insertion path within tissue (by rotating the needle, applying external forces to the needle base etc.), shows its potential in cancer therapy. Due to the rigorous scrutiny of brachytherapy techniques, robot-assisted needle steering (i.e. which involves real-time needle positioning, needle dynamics control, tissue modelling, vision and imaging) has huge room for improvement in terms of safety, reliability, and accuracy. The PhD is a part of BRL’s ongoing research project in robot-assisted brachytherapy/biopsy with a team of clinical academics from North Bristol Trust. 


The PhD will involve working in the extensive facilities in BRL and engagement with the North Bristol Trust. BRL is located at our Frenchay campus and within walking distance of two train stations and bus stops, making UWE Frenchay Campus the ideal place to work for those wishing to commute to Bristol. UWE Bristol is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity to create an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds who share our ambition to be a university recognised for the success and impact of our practice-oriented programmes; our strong industry networks and our inclusive global outlook.


The studentship is available from 1 July 2020 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,009 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.


Excellent candidates with engineering or computer science background and specialisation in robotics and machine learning are encouraged to apply. If you have any queries or would like an informal discussion, please contact Professor Chris Melhuish at or Professor Charlie Yang at

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and ideally will have a master’s degree in Robotics, Control Engineering, or Computer Science, etc. Good programming skills such as C++, Python, MATLAB, and research experience of robotics (especially medical robotics) are preferred.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 1920-JUL-FET11 .

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

Referees: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted. .

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 15 April 2020.

Interviews will take place in late April.  If you have not heard from us by the end of May, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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