Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS)

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Call for applications for PhD studentships in Cyber Security (2020 entry)

General Information

The Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) at the University of Kent is calling for applications for a number of PhD studentships for an expected start in September 2020.

  1. KirCCS PhD studentships: 2 University funded VC PhD studentships for all 16 Core Members of the Centre
  2. SoCyETAL PhD studentships: 3 University funded PhD studentships for the following 3 academics, as part of the to-be-established Institute of Advanced Studies in Cyber Security and Conflict (SoCyETAL) in 2020:
  3. China Scholarship Council (CSC) funded PhD studentships: The University of Kent has signed an agreement with the CSC for accepting up to 20 CSC funded PhD students for the whole University. All academics of the University of Kent, including but not limited to the above listed academics of KirCCS and SoCyETAL, are eligible to be principal supervisors of such PhD students.
  4. 3 PhD studentships co-funded by EPSRC and the School of Computing, University of Kent: All academics of the School of Computing, University of Kent, including some academics listed above, are eligible to be principal supervisors of such PhD students.

Eligibility and Funding

The first two batches of (5) PhD studentships provide full funding for "home" students only. The full funding for "home" students includes an annual stipend at the EPSRC rate (£15,009 p.a. for 2019-20), and a waiver of the home student fees (£4,327 p.a. for 2019-20), totalling £19,336 p.a. (based on 2019-20 figures) funding for 3 years. To understand if you are eligible as a "home fee" student, please check the detailed fees regulations in England. If you do not meet the criteria of a "home student", you are still eligible to apply for the studentships, but will need to bring additional funding yourself to cover the difference between the overseas fees (£19,000 p.a. for 2019-20) and the home fees.

The third batch of (up to 20) PhD studnetships provide full funding for (Chinese) applicants who are eligible for PhD studentships from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) only. The full funding for CSC funded (Chinese) students include a stipend of £1,200 per month (£14,400 p.a. for 2019-20) provided by CSC and a waiver of full overseas fees (£19,000 p.a. for 2019-20) by the University of Kent, totalling £33,400 p.a. (based on 2019-20 figures) funding. The CSC will also cover a return flight ticket from China to the UK, medical insurance, and one-off UK visa costs.

All PhD students will also have opportunities to work part-time as a teaching assistant, a research assistant or other paid roles (e.g., as a University Ambassador for outreaching activities), up to a stipulated number of hours per week.

Application Deadlines

Applications will be considered immediately as they come in following the standard procedure of the corresponding School, which normally involves one or two formal interviews with the principal supervisor and another academic and/or with the School. The final selection process among all qualified applicants will take place after the application deadline:

  • 3 SoCyETAL studentships: 10th January, 2020 (for School of Politics and Interntional Relations) or 31st January, 2020 (for School of Computing)
  • 2 KirCCS studentships: 19th January, 2020
  • Up to 20 CSC funded PhD studentships: 26th January, 2020 (internal deadline for the University of Kent) => 31st March, 2020 (CSC deadline for receiving approved applications by relevant organisations such as universities in China)
    • You will have to submit your application to an eligible organisation (your university if you are a current student) in China, which will verify and approve your application to CSC. Therefore, please check with the relevant organisation in China for their internal deadline and processes. Also read the timeline (in Chinese) on the CSC website.
  • 3 PhD studentships co-funded by EPSRC and the School of Computing, University of Kent: 31st January, 2020

Supervisors and Research Topics

Research interests of the above supervisors for the advertised PhD studentships are as follows. They may consider other topics as well, so if you want to discuss other topics please contact the relevant supervisors or the Centre Director and the Institute Co-Director Prof Shujun Li for advice.

  • Budi Arief: Cybercrime and Human Aspects of Computer S`ecurity (including Insider Threats), Malware and Ransomware, IoT Security
  • Sanjay Bhattacherjee: Cryptography, Security, Efficiency and Use of Blockchains, Voting Games, (Biometric) Identification and Authentication Systems, Techno-Legal Systems and Policies
  • Farzin Deravi: Biometrics, Privacy Protection, Identity Management, Face Recognition, Device Authentication
  • Virginia Franqueira: Digital Forensics, Online Child Protection, Security in Supply Chain, Technology in Domestic Violence, Visual Content Analysis, Machine Learning, Cybercrime Investigation, Forensic Tool Support, Emerging Network Protocols, Blockchain (use and misuse), IoT Security & Forensics, Virtual Reality Security & Forensics
  • Richard Guest: Biometrics (including Environmental Assessment, Sample Quality, Testing and Evaluation, Human/Machine Decision Making), Face Verification, Fingerprint Verification, Mobile Device Security, Continuous Authentication
  • Julio Hernandez-Castro: Cryptology (particularly Lightweight Crypto), Randomness, Steganography & Steganalysis, Computer & Network Security, Computer Forensics, CAPTCHAs, RFID Security
  • Sanaul Hoque: EEG Biometrics, Attack Detection, Biometric Template Ageing
  • Gareth Howells: Device Authentication, Security for Edge computing, IoT Security, Malware Detection
  • Özgür Kafalı: Security Requirements Engineering, Secure and Privacy-aware Socio-technical System Design, Security and Privacy Ontologies, Semantic Breach Analysis, Agent-based Simulation for Human Security Decision-making
  • Andy King: Automatic Vulnerability Discovery, Symbolic Execution, Binary Analysis
  • Rogério de Lemos: Resilient AI, AI for Cyber Security, Self-protecting Systems, Blockchains for IoT Security
  • Shujun Li: Usable Security and Wider Human Factors in Cyber Security, Privacy (technical, legal and human factors), User Authentication (especially password security and usability), Mobile and Web Security (including online social media), AI for Cyber Security, False Information (understanding, detection and prevention), Cybercrime, Online Child Protection and Anti-Pornography, Security Visualisation, Multimedia Security, Digital Forensics, CAPTCHA, Information Hiding, Socio-Technical Aspects of Distributed Leger Technologies (i.e., Blockchain)
  • Gareth Mott: Cyber Governance, Cyber Espionage and Sabotage, 'Code is Law', Cyber Extremism, Cyber Criminality, Darknet, Blockchain, Online (Counter)Surveillance, Cyber Inequalities
  • Jason Nurse: Cyber Security Culture, Corporate Security Awareness, Security Education and Training in Organisations, Usability of Security Interfaces, Behaviour Change, Gamification of Cyber Security or Privacy, Cyber-Insurance in Industry, Incident and Breach Response, Cybercrime and Psychology, Security Risk Management in the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Privacy in the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Cybercrime and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Future Crimes, and Identity Security and Privacy Online (especially as it relates to online tracking and advertising)
  • Carlos Pérez-Delgado: Quantum Cyber Security

How to Apply

To apply for any of the above PhD studentships, follow the steps below. Note that the research proposal is used to test your technical writing and literature review skills, and the topic may still be adjusted in the application process and refined during your PhD study.

  1. Read the general instructions for PhD applications.
  2. Study research profiles of all eligible supervisors listed above to identify one or several supervisors you want to work with.
  3. Approach potential supervisors to discuss your research topics to identity the principal supervisor(s) you want to work with and to get advice on how to prepare a research proposal (required as part of your application material, see below).
  4. Prepare your application material, which should include
    • a properly formatted CV
    • the certificate(s) and transcript(s) of all university degree programme(s) studied
    • a research proposal on a selected topic including a mini literature review, a proposed methodology, a work plan and a bibliography
    • proof of your English qualifications (if not obvious from other application material)
    • proof of your home student status (if you consider yourself eligible as a home student)
    • at least two reference letters (which can be provided after you submit your formal application)
    • (if you are an overseas applicant applying for the 5 University funded KirCCS or SoCyETAL studentships) how you will fund the difference between the overseas and home fees
  5. After you have all your application material ready, visit one of the following web pages to submit your application depending on what type of PhD studentships you are applying for and which school your desired principal supervisor belongs to. If you are equally interested in applying to more than one School, then submit separate applications to all Schools so you can be considered by all. We will consider which School we will recommend you to register if we decide to make you an offer. In your application, please include the following phrase "Applying for KirCCS/SoCyETAL PhD studentships" or "Applying for CSC funded PhD studentships" and the name(s) of principal supervisor(s) you are applying to work with. If you are applying to more than one School, mention other school(s) you are applying for in each separate application.

Post-Submission Procedure

After you submit your application, a School level selection process will take place and a recommendation for funding will be made by the relevant School(s) to the Centre/Institute. Then a Centre//Institute level selection process will take place, which will determine the final winners of all the 5 PhD studentships. After that, the corresponding School(s) will arrange an official offer to be made to the successful PhD applicants.

About KirCCS and SoCyETAL

The Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS) at the University of Kent harnesses expertise across the University to address current and potential cyber security challenges. It represents the University of Kent as a UK government recognised ACE-CSR (Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research), one of only 19 such centres in the whole UK. The current recognition starts from August 2018 and will last until June 2022. The to-be-established Institute of Advanced Studies in Cyber Security and Conflict (SoCyETAL) will further extend the excellent research in cyber security at KirCCS to more inter-disciplinary areas.

Contact Us

If you have difficulties identifying research topics or supervisors, please contact the Centre Director and the Institute Co-Director Prof Shujun Li for advice.

If you have questions on the School level PhD admissions procedure, please contact the relevant School(s):

Kent Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Cyber Security (KirCCS), University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 824180 or contact us.

Last Updated: 16/01/2020