MPhil: High density point cloud processing for tree structural features extraction and species classification

Qualification: MPhil

Department: School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science

Application deadline: 30th September

Start date: 1st November 2020



Professor Ivan Tyukin (Mathematics)

Professor Kevin Tansey (Geography)

Project description:

Ref: LIH533 MPhil

The characterisation of tree structural features is important for ecological, climate change with respect to changes in above-ground biomass and environmental studies. The University of Leicester is interested in using advanced observational technologies to understand how we can extract meaningful information about the properties of trees.

Bluesky International Ltd is a leading supplier of aerial survey, GIS and location-based data and services and has offices in the UK, US, Ireland and India. Amongst other services, the company delivers nationwide individual tree mapping to key clients, e.g. Ordnance Survey. In view of our “Flying Cities” campaign we have recently upgraded our sensor suite to a new generation LIDAR system capable of acquiring up to 100 points per square meter. 

The company has identified a revenue opportunity in the provision of enriched maps of individual trees including tree structural measurements and species classification. However, the associated research for the development of automated algorithms for the processing of high point density LIDAR datasets requires expertise across natural science and data science that the company currently does not have across its staff.  

This R&D project will therefore experiment and develop approaches for the processing of the point cloud towards the extraction of tree structural features and the classification of tree species.  The immediate outputs of this project would be an annotated software code for tree identification, feature extraction and species classification, and a synthetic technical documentation on its algorithmic.




This Industrial MPhil is funded by the Leicester Innovation Hub (through European Development Fund monies) and the sponsoring organisation, Bluesky International Ltd.

The studentship provides:
Stipend of £1,166.67 for 12 months (total Stipend £14,000) 
Tuition Fees at UK/EU rates for 12 months.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements:


  • Bachelors Degree (with Honours) with at least a UK 2.I classification or overseas equivalent in mathematics, computer science, informatics, or relevant science subject.
  • Experience in computer programming or coding (python, C++, Matlab).
  • Evidence of previous report or thesis writing.
  • The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.


  • Masters Degree or Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in a relevant subject
  • Familiarity with data mining, data analytics, machine learning and mathematical modelling techniques
  • Experience in working in a business environment
  • Experience of working in a team and independently
  • Experience of making presentations (communication in an oral format)
  • Experience with LiDAR data and/or LiDAR data processing systems

Skills and knowledge developed during the project:

  • Remote sensing of forests
  • Modelling and reconstruction of complex spatial structures, including tree structural parameters extraction, from under-sampled observations
  • Data segmentation
  • Data classification
  • Statistical learning theory
  • Machine learning

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries to:  

Prof Ivan Tyukin

Prof Kevin Tansey 

Application enquiries to: 

How to apply

How to apply

Please use the 'Apply button' at the bottom of the page and select January 2021 entry.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for the ERDF LIH553 MPhil in the space provided

In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisors and project title  (a proposal is not required).

With the application, please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
  • Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two referees in the text boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.



The Leicester Innovation Hub is part-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The MPhil student must be a UK or EU (European Union) national and:

  • have graduated within the last 3 years in a related discipline;
  • adhere to project confidentiality; at the start of the project
  • assign any arising IP from the project; 
  • base their MPhil degree thesis on the research outcomes of the project;
  • work closely with the SME company to undertake the research project; 
  • deliver monthly progress reports and a comprehensive project report to the University and sponsoring SME in addition to the MPhil thesis.