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Procedures

Procedures related to the general operation of the doctoral programme are described in the UPC’s Academic Regulations for Doctoral Studies.

Admission and induction of new students

The procedure students must follow to apply for admission to a UPC doctoral programme is as follows:

  1. Check the entrance requirements and enrolment period for the programme.
  2. Apply to the academic committee of the doctoral programme by following this procedure:
      1. Register using the online admissions application and fill in the admission form (with your ID details, CV, qualifications, transcripts, etc.).
      2. Submit the following supporting documents:
        • Certified copies of degree certificates
        • Curriculum and official transcript for previous studies
        • A CV that includes research work done and related publications
        • Proof of any grants, scholarships or financial aid received
        • Evidence of other merits
  3. The coordinator of the doctoral programme will issue letters of admission to successful applicants.

Specific admission requirements

The doctoral programme is aimed at students who have completed a master’s degree in telecommunications or informatics and wish to study a topic in this field in greater depth to contribute to developing the state of the art in that area. While this is the ideal academic background, students who have completed degrees in other areas may also be admitted, though they may be required to take bridging courses.

The natural route for entering the doctoral programme is via a UPC master’s degree, such as the master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering (MET) or the master’s degree in Applied Telecommunications and Engineering Management (MASTEAM). Students who hold one of these degrees are not required to take any bridging courses. In the case of students from other master’s degrees, the academic committee of the doctoral programme will consider their academic record and the area in which they wish to complete their thesis. Based on this information, the committee will decide whether a student needs to take bridging courses, up to a maximum of 30 credits. Generally speaking, students who hold a master’s degree in telecommunications (or equivalent) from another Spanish or European university may be admitted directly to the research stage. Students with a master’s degree in informatics or computer science are required to take some courses to improve their knowledge of telecommunication networks. Students from other backgrounds are required to take additional credits so they can rapidly acquire the knowledge needed to complete a doctoral thesis in this field.

 

The following are some of the optional subjects currently taught on the two master’s degrees in Network Engineering:

  • Communication Networks
  • Overlay Networks
  • Distributed Systems and Internet and Web Technologies
  • Information Technology Service Management
  • Network Security
  • Networks
  • Quality of Service in Networks
  • Wireless Access Networks
  • Optimisation for Applied Engineering Design
  • Network Engineering
  • ICT-based Entrepreneurship
  • Internet of Things and Ubiquitous IP
  • Service Engineering
  • Network Security Authentication and Authorisation

A good knowledge of written and spoken English is essential because this language will be used for communication in the doctoral programme (in training as well as in publications and reports) and to exchange knowledge with other researchers.

Criteria for the assessment and weighting of merits

The academic committee of the doctoral programme has final responsibility for regulating admission to the doctoral programme. In the admission process (handled by the academic committee), each student is requested to submit the following:

  • Academic record.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • A letter explaining their interest in taking the doctoral degree and the research area in which they wish to complete their thesis.
  • Contact details for two references from whom recommendations of the candidate may be requested.
  • Details of the proposed thesis supervisor, provided the person concerned has indicated their willingness to take on this responsibility.

This information is stored on the intranet so it can be consulted by members of the academic committee of the doctoral programme. All applications for admission submitted in the previous period are considered at regular meetings of the academic committee. Admission decisions are made within one month. The mechanism used is consultation by e-mail, indicating the intranet folder in which information on a candidate is to be found. Members of the academic committee are given three weeks to raise any objections to an applicant’s admission. In the case of disagreement (i.e. members with opposing opinions), a face-to-face meeting may be requested to decide whether a student is admitted. The proposed thesis supervisor may be invited to attend this meeting to give an opinion on the candidate.

If the applicant does not propose a thesis supervisor, the academic committee will propose that one be assigned. Based on a candidate’s preferences concerning the research topic of their thesis, the member of the academic committee whose area of specialisation is most pertinent will be asked to propose a thesis supervisor. If the member responsible for this area is unable to propose a supervisor, the same request will be made to a member with expertise in another area. If all members of the academic committee have been consulted and a suitable supervisor cannot be found, the candidate’s application will not be accepted.

When candidates have been assigned a thesis supervisor, they enter the admission process and are assigned a score of 0 to 10 based on assessment of the following points, weighted as indicated in parentheses:

  • Academic record and previous studies (30%)
  • Research experience (10%)
  • Knowledge of languages (10%)
  • Other relevant aspects described on the applicant’s CV but not covered by the three previous points (5%)
  • The thesis supervisor’s assessment of the applicant’s doctoral thesis proposal (30%)
  • Assessment of the academic committee of the doctoral programme (15%)

Students will be admitted if they obtain a total score of more than seven points.

Together with the admission decision, the academic committee will issue enrolment recommendations if the student is required to take bridging courses. The recommended credits (up to a maximum of 30) will correspond to subjects in the field of network engineering that can be completed as soon as possible.

Infrastructure, facilities and services available to admitted students

The coordinator or the head of the research group will invite students to a meeting at which they can ask any questions they have about the next steps they need to take or rules governing the doctoral programme. The coordinator will also clarify and underscore key points that students should be aware of, including academic progress requirements, monitoring of their progress, and what is expected of them.

All students conducting research within the framework of the doctoral programme in Network Engineering are assigned a comfortable, suitable workspace in an office or laboratory shared with other students. This arrangement is intended to foster a spirit of community that encourages the free exchange of ideas and collaborative work. Each student’s individual workspace is equipped with a desktop PC with an office suite of basic software, calculation or simulation tools available through the UPC’s software repository, and tools for cooperation and for accessing bibliographic databases. Students have access to office supplies, a printing service, meeting rooms equipped with projection and videoconferencing equipment, and common areas for informal meetings (with a fridge, microwave and coffee maker).

The Department’s management unit supports students in various ways, from handling funding for trips (to participate in conferences or attend meetings related to international projects) to providing assistance with the defence process in the final stage of thesis preparation.

In addition to the facilities and services already mentioned, the Department’s various research areas have specific resources, which are briefly described below.

Students working on a doctoral thesis with the Design and Evaluation of Broadband Networks and Services (BAMPLA) research group have access to various facilities for the emulation and simulation of networks and services, and to adapted spaces for conducting research with top-of-the-line network equipment. These spaces include the Networks and Services Laboratory, which has EPON/GPON equipment, Metro Ethernet, gateways and computing and storage environments that allow for the concatenation of NFV/SDN-based services configured according to user needs—all connected to an experimental network with continental output at 10 Gbps.

Doctoral candidates working with the Research Group on Cellular and Ad Hoc Networks (GRXCA) have access to a wide range of equipment that facilitates work in its research areas. Doctoral candidates have access to a number of servers that are optimised for tasks involving intensive calculation and simulation processes. GRXCA doctoral students also have access to various platforms for the development of wireless networks (based on IEEE 802.11 and IEEE 802.15.4), the main purpose of which is to enable them to verify analytical and simulated models and construct centralised and distributed network services. They can also use a network drive service to organise their information and an individual computer (located in the laboratory) to work on their research.

In addition to making various high-performance calculation servers available to doctoral students, the Wireless Networks Group (WNG) provides them with access to equipment for studying radio resource management, including spectrum analysers, oscilloscopes and high-precision power supplies for studying the energy consumption of small devices.
 The Group also has state-of-the-art equipment for research on wireless local area networks (WLANs), personal area networks, sensor networks and visible light communication (VLC) and 5G infrastructure, including software licences and the hardware needed to provide development environments for different platforms of such networks.

 

With respect to its sensor networks, the Group has extensive fixed infrastructure, composed of dozens of nodes that can be managed remotely to configure a large number of experiments. Teaching laboratories—equipped with network analysers, switches and routers, and Wi-Fi access points—can be used by doctoral students when they are not being used for master’s degree classes.

Students attached to the Management, Pricing and Services in Next Generation Networks (MAPS) research area have access to EmanicsLab, a virtual laboratory supported by a network of 20 nodes located at 10 European universities. The MAPS group contributes two of these nodes. Doctoral candidates use the laboratory to conduct research in the field of network and service management, in areas such as traffic flow collection and analysis systems, monitoring and accounting systems, analysis of the stability of autonomous networks, and mechanisms for assignment/management of virtual network resources.

Doctoral candidates working with the Information Security Group (ISG) research area have access to the services of a network drive space to create backups and several calculation servers optimised for the execution of various simulators. The SERTEL group also has a virtualisation environment made up of five high-performance servers that can be used to carry out studies on complex network infrastructure.

Complementary activities for students

All complementary activities will be recorded in the doctoral student activity report (see the “Monitoring” section for further details) and reviewed by the thesis supervisor.

Courses and seminars

Courses and seminars are intended to offer additional knowledge, information and training in topics related to doctoral research, and on the socio-economic and technological environment students are immersed in.

The Department regularly organises joint seminars with the Castelldefels School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering (EETAC) and the Barcelona School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSETB). These seminars usually run for two hours. Examples of seminars can be found in the “Agenda” section of the EETAC website.

The doctoral programme organises an average of six seminars each year. This offering allows each student to participate in a minimum of three seminars a year—a total of around 18 hours over the three-year doctoral training period.

Seminars can be organised at any stage over the three years that the programme runs.

Workshops

The doctoral programme in Network Engineering participates in an annual workshop, several editions of which have been offered. The workshop “Barcelona Forum on PhD Research in Information and Communication Technologies” runs for a full day. The training objective is for doctoral candidates to attend and participate in workshops and working meetings where students present their research work and discuss its impact on the scientific community and industry.

Publications

To complete a doctoral thesis, each student is required to have published at least one relevant paper in a JCR-indexed journal (in addition to others in lower-impact publications). The training objective is for candidates to publish research results in journals, preferably high-impact publications (JCR-indexed) and international forums.

Papers may be published at any stage over the three years that the programme runs.

Mobility

One of the priorities of the programme is to train doctoral candidates in teamwork and multidisciplinary collaboration, both within Spain and at the international level. This is accomplished by encouraging students to complete research stays at public and private research centres within Europe and around the world. Doctoral candidates who spend a minimum of three months at a renowned research centre or a higher education institution outside Spain are entitled to have an International Doctorate mention included on their doctoral degree certificate.

This activity involves a total of around 480 hours (three months). Research stays abroad may be completed at any stage over the three years that the programme runs.

Other activities

Doctoral students attend seminars and workshops that are either internal (organised by research groups associated with the programme) or external. External seminars and workshops are organised by other doctoral programmes or institutions which conduct research on topics that are aligned with the programme and may be of interest to students. Research group seminars focus on topics of interest to students enrolled in the doctoral programme.

Seminars usually run for two hours and workshops for at least one day. It is anticipated that at least six of these activities will be held each year.

There is generally no mobility dimension to this activity: most workshops and seminars are held at the UPC.

Monitoring

After a student enrols for the first time, a doctoral student activity report will be generated for him or her and kept up to date from that point on. This computerised record of the activities carried out by each student will remain the property of the Doctoral School. Each student’s report will be reviewed by their thesis supervisor and assessed annually by the academic committee of the doctoral programme.

The report is a record of all activities related to a doctoral candidate’s academic life, including the following:

  • Commitment agreement
  • Specific research training
  • Cross-disciplinary training
  • Research plan
  • Changes of thesis supervisor
  • Thesis supervisor reports
  • Reports of the academic committee of the doctoral programme
  • Agreements
  • Stays abroad
  • Grants and scholarships
  • Participation in conferences and seminars (UPC or external)
  • Publications

The doctoral student activity report will be used for continuous assessment of trainee researchers and will include evidence of their training as researchers and in cross-disciplinary competencies. A copy of this report will be provided to each member of the thesis examination committee.

 

 

Research plan

Before the end of their first year of study, doctoral candidates must prepare a research plan, which will be included in their doctoral student activity report. This plan may be refined and improved over the candidate’s period of doctoral study. It must be approved by the candidate’s thesis supervisor and must specify the methodology that will be used and the objectives the research aims to achieve.

The first presentation of a candidate’s research plan will take the form of a public defence, which will be assessed by a committee.

The academic committee is responsible for appointing members of committees responsible for evaluating research plans (thesis proposals) and assessing their conclusions in order to provide additional instructions to students and their thesis supervisors. Whenever possible, an effort will be made to ensure that one member of the committee is a person in charge of a research area other than the one corresponding to the candidate’s thesis. The second member of the committee will be a member of the Department who works in the research area of the thesis, and the external member must have a good knowledge of the thesis topic. Members of the committee should be provided with a report on the research plan at least one week before the public defence. Before the defence, each member will be provided with a printed copy of any slides used. The presentation made to the committee will last no longer than one hour and will be followed by a discussion that will also last no longer than one hour.

Following the defence of the research plan, the committee will award a mark and prepare recommendations, which the members will discuss with the student. The mark and recommendations will then be sent to the doctoral programme coordinator. This information will be included in the candidate’s doctoral student activity report and later reviewed in a meeting of the academic committee of the doctoral programme. The academic committee of the doctoral programme may make additional recommendations to the student and thesis supervisor regarding the research plan.

Exclusion from the doctoral programme

A positive assessment of the research plan is required to continue on the doctoral programme. If the research plan is deemed unsatisfactory, the doctoral candidate will be given six months to prepare and submit a new plan, which will be assessed by the academic committee of the doctoral programme. If the research plan is deemed unsatisfactory in two consecutive assessments, the candidate will be excluded from the programme.

If a doctoral candidate decides to change their thesis topic, they must submit a new research plan.

Submission and public defence of a doctoral thesis

The procedures that define how to do the drafting, presentation and public defense of the doctoral thesis are included in chapters 10, 11 and 12 of the Academic Regulations of the Doctoral Studies of the UPC.

To start the process of reading a thesis they must have publications in recognized solvency conferences in the research area of PhD and articles in JCR indexed journals.

The PhD candidate must be the first author of at least 1 JCR publication where its content presents one or more of the contributions of the thesis. In any case, the CAPD must assess whether the works are sufficient for the defense of the thesis. For this reason, it is recommended that before beginning the deposit process, the Academic Committee of the Doctoral Program (CAPD) be consulted about the adequacy of the results.

As a general rule, and to avoid delays in this process, it is suggested to consult the CAPD the feasibility of depositing the thesis before initiating the request to read it, indicating which are the publications. To do this, a summary of the contributions made must be sent to the CAPD (by e-mail to the program coordinator) that includes the following information:

  • A summary of the doctoral thesis of approximately one page.
  • A list of all the contributions made in the doctoral thesis with a brief description of a paragraph justifying the relevance of each of them.
  • A list of all the publications of the doctoral student indicating which of the thesis contributions each presents.

The Committee will review the documentation and within a maximum period of one month will evaluate the deposit and defense proposal. If these criteria are not met, the Committee will reject the reading proposal, which can not be resubmitted until new contributions have been made.

The above quality assurance criteria are subject to periodic review by the Academic Committee of the Doctoral Program. Whenever this is done, an adequate transition period will be given.

The quality assurance criteria described above may be revised periodically by the academic committee of the doctoral programme. If changes are made, a suitable transition period will be allowed.

Quality system

The Quality System of our program is based on the rules and procedures of the Internal Quality Assurance System (SGIC) of the UPC Doctoral School (https://doctorat.upc.edu/ca/escola-doctorat/ sistema -of-quality / quality-system).

Claims, complaints and suggestions

Suggestions or complaints may be submitted by e-mail (to gestio.academica@entel.upc.edu) or in person through the ENTEL management unit.