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Early-Stage Researcher in European Industrial Doctorate project REAL-NET

Aston University

Applications are invited by Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) for a prestigious three year postgraduate position as Early Stage Researcher (ESR) within the European Industrial Doctorate project REAL-NET. The project is supported through the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

REAL-NET is a European Industrial Doctorate (EID) consortium of high profile universities in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany including academic partners Aston University, Telecom ParisTech and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, as well as, the industrial partners Coriant (Germany and Portugal) and Orange (France). It is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN). Within REAL-NET six Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will be trained to develop and implement novel machine learning-based processing methods to communication networks

Background of the Project

The exponential surge in the global data traffic driven by the skyrocketing proliferation of different bandwidth-hungry on-line services and various broadband services, brings about the escalating pressure on the speed (capacity) and quality of transmission (OSNR, BER) characteristics of optical communication systems. It is well recognized that rapidly increasing data rates in the core fibre communication systems are quickly approaching the limits of current transmission technologies. It is widely accepted that the nonlinear transmission effects in optical fibre represent now a major limiting factor in modern fibre-optic communication systems. Nonlinear properties make optical fibre channels considerably different from wireless and other traditional linear communications channels. There is a clear need for development of radically different methods for coding, transmission, and (pre & post) processing of information to mitigate nonlinearities and to estimate important network parameters. The training of a new generation of engineers with expertise in optical communications, nonlinear science methods, digital signal processing (DSP), and design of implementable algorithms is of high importance.

From the industry perspectives, design of practical and implementable processing algorithms requires knowledge of ASICs and real world conditions and restrictions. The multi-national & multi-interdisciplinary REAL-NET project provides timely doctoral training for PhD students through industry, over relevant research in the fast growing area of high practical relevance. REAL-NET involves leading EU university, a global operator and one of the most innovative vendor.

This will lead to development of novel practically implementable disruptive techniques for fibre-optic communications. More information on the project can be found here:

Training and Secondments: REAL-NET aims to bring this exciting new approach into commercial application with the help of its world leading industry partners, Coriant and Orange, where successful applicants will spent 18 months of their appointment.

The position is available from April 2019 (subject to negotiation) for the duration of 36 months


The successful candidates will be employed on a full-time basis with a competitive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for ESRs and the personal circumstances of the applicant. The successful candidate will receive a financial package consisting of the MSCA living allowance and a mobility allowance, together a sum of £38,850 pa. Eligible candidates will also receive an additional family allowance according to the rules of the MSCA.

Person Specification

REAL-NET is looking for candidates with exceptional skills in machine learning, signal processing, optical communication or applied mathematics. Preferred skill requirements include experience in experimental work, knowledge of scientific programming and computing, physical optics, communications.  Knowledge in differential equations, mathematical physics, numerical analysis, information or communication theory is an asset. At a minimum, the successful applicant should have a outstanding BSc (first class or upper second class honours degre) or equivalent qualification in engineering or physics. Applicants holding a Master of Science degree (or expected to be awarded one soon) in Electrical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Physics, or equivalent, are especially encouraged to apply.

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the AIPT, contact Dr. Mariia Sorokina by email:

The successful applicant is expected to register for a PhD at Aston University and therefore will have to comply with minimum PhD Entry Requirements to be found in the section “Entry Requirements” detailed here.The position includes a PhD tuition fee waiver to the level of UK Home/EU fees. Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between ‘Home/EU’ and ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, the difference currently being £12,005 pa in 2017/18


  • BSc or MSc qualification in Engineering, Computer Science, Physics or equivalent.
  • Experience in experimental work, machine learning or relevant experimental work, knowledge of scientific programming and computing, particularly in the context of optical fibre communications
  • English Language: Minimum requirements can be found in the section “English Language Entry Requirements” detailed here
  • Comply with MSCA eligibility and mobility criteria as listed below

MSCA Eligibility

Applicants must be Early Stage Researchers (ESR), i.e. be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers, and not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

Full-time equivalent research experience is measured FROM the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited) – even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. Research Experience is measured TO the first day of the REAL-NET Employment contract of the researcher.

MSCA Mobility:

Researchers may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the first day of REAL employment.  Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

How to apply

  • Apply online following the link
  • Attach the following documents (mandatory):
    • Degree Certificate(s). If your qualifications are from an overseas institution please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application
    • English Language Certificate if appropriate
    • A copy of your passport (All pages)
    • Completed and signed MSCA Compliance Form

Closing Date: 31 March 2019

Additional studentships and speculative applications to AiPT

AiPT is always open to speculative applications from students to projects other than REAL-NET.

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available at

Such applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section,

For informal enquiries about speculative applications and other opportunities within the AIPT, contact Prof. Sergei Turitsyn by email:

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: The successful candidate will receive a financial package consisting of the MSCA living allowance and a mobility allowance, together a sum of £38,850 pa
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd January 2019
Closes: 31st March 2019
Reference: R180615
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