Description, Objectives and Background

Description and objectives

The doctoral programme in Network Engineering is framed within the information and communication technologies (ICTs) sector (or the area of computer science and information technology in the terminology of Spain’s National Evaluation and Foresight Agency, ANEP). It is a priority area for the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, within the framework of Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies, and one of the challenges identified in the Catalan Agreement on Research and Innovation. Similarly, the Spanish 2013-2016 National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020 defines telecommunications as a strategic area and the information society as a critical factor in structuring a global space.

The programme also reflects one of the priorities defined by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, which recognises ICTs as a key area for the technological development of society.

The doctoral programme in Network Engineering is perfectly aligned with the activity carried out in the various research areas of the Department of Network Engineering (ENTEL). It serves as a platform for harnessing all of the knowledge acquired and generated by the Department’s research groups to benefit society by producing the kind of highly qualified graduates a knowledge-based economy needs. The UPC research groups that support the doctoral programme are BAMPLA, GRXCA, ISG, MAPS, SISCOM and WNG.

This programme is designed for creative people with a strong interest in technology who want to improve the state of the art in network and service engineering. Doctoral studies benefit students in two ways: they satisfy a personal need to understand, analyse and develop technology in a particular field, and they provide individuals with knowledge and a way of working that they will be able to apply in their careers in positions that call for technological creativity. They can put their expertise to effective use in the R&D departments of companies, as managers of development teams or in the creation of start-ups, to name just a few possibilities.

The quality objectives of the doctoral programme are:

  • To produce doctoral degree holders who have the knowledge and skills required to carry out R&D activities in multidisciplinary settings and work with international teams, with a critical vision and sense of social responsibility.
  • To focus on harnessing research results generated within the doctoral programme, at both the national and the international level, to benefit society and improve people’s well-being.
  • To ensure that work done on doctoral theses provides students with suitable training and gives them the knowledge and tools required to conduct research.
  • To ensure that, in addition to developing students’ knowledge, doctoral theses contribute knowledge to society and point to ways of turning that knowledge into value.
  • To ensure that doctoral theses are of demonstrable quality, measurable in terms of the quality of the publications they generate and the interest that the work done attracts in the research community.
  • To optimise the process of producing a doctoral thesis, minimising the time it takes to complete a thesis while ensuring that defined quality objectives are met.


The doctoral programme in Network Engineering has a long history. It grew out of a doctoral programme offered by the Department of Applied Mathematics and Telematics that brought together various mathematical models and applied them to problem-solving in the field of telecommunications, particularly in relation to communication networks. Eventually the two disciplines—network engineering and applied mathematics—gave rise to two separate programmes.

In its early years, the doctoral programme trained researchers, creating a large pool of professionals who took up positions at telecommunication schools established in the 1990s. Holders of the doctoral degree in Network Engineering hold positions at many universities, including the University of the Balearic Islands, Carlos III University of Madrid, the University of Cantabria and the Technical University of Cartagena. In the second stage of its development, the programme has become more international, focusing on the training of doctoral candidates from abroad as well as Spanish students. More recent graduates hold positions at South American universities, such as Pontifical Bolivarian University in Colombia and Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogotá; at universities in Iran; and in the research centres of companies like NEC Laboratories Europe in Heidelberg, NTT DOCOMO EuroLabs in Munich, and Spanish companies such as INDRA. Some have opted to participate in innovative projects such as eNeo Labs and CTAE.

The research groups associated with the programme participate in various Spanish and European initiatives—related to joint training for doctoral students and bringing PhD holders back to Spain—within the framework of programmes such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and Innovative Training Networks (ITN).

The links between our programme and the industrial R&D environment are evident in our industrial doctorates, which are co-supervised by companies operating in sectors that will be strategically significant in the future, such as the automotive industry.

Our doctoral programme received a quality award for the 2003-2009 period (MCD2003-00134).