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Institute of Cyber Security for Society (iCSS)

From time to time, we have call for applications for PhD studentships and job posts. See below for more details.

PhD Studentships

How to Apply

To apply for a PhD studentship, 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. Please read the application requirements carefully for the scholarship you are applying for, as these may vary.

  1. Read the general instructions for PhD applications.
  2. Study research profiles of all eligible supervisors (including all iCSS Core Members) 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 please check the specific eligibility criteria on the relevant scholarship)
  5. After you have all your application material ready, visit the following web page to submit your application: https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/apply

How to write a good research proposal

It is common that you will be asked to write a research proposal independently to demonstrate your literature review and writing skills and general understanding of the subjects. The topic of your research proposal can be given by the academic you are applying to, or be proposed by yourself. Many supervisors prefer you propose your own topic and write a research proposal all by yourself as a starting point.

A research proposal should normally include the following components (unless there are specific guidelines for a call explaining how a research proposal should be written):

  • Title
  • Your full name and contact details: Please make sure your full name match the one on your formal application form and your signature in your emails to avoid confusion. It will also be good to include your application number so your application can be uniquely identified. For your email address, please make it a clickable so the supervisor can just click it to write an email to you. If you have a personal website or ResearchGate/LinkedIn/Google Scholar Citation profiles, please consider include them.
  • Date: This should be the date of the last update. You may also want to include the date of the first version and a version number if you have sent multiple versions to potential supervisors.
  • Abstract: This is optional but can highly recommended so your potential supervisors can quickly get an idea of what your want to do.
  • Introduction: This is for you to explain the background/context of the topic and your personal motivation to study it.
  • Related Work: This is a section for you to review related work, to demonstrate your understanding of what have been done by other researchers on different aspects of the selected PhD topic.
  • Research Methodology: This is a section for you to explain how you currently plan to study the topic technically. You are expected to include some good technical details, in the context of related work in the Related Work section.
  • Work Plan: This is a section for you to explain a timeline of your proposed PhD study, fitting into a period of 3-4 years depending on your personal circumstances (e.g., if your funding lasts for 3 years, make a 3-year plan; and if you have funding for 4 years, do a 4-year plan). In no case you should plan to finish in longer than 4 years because there is a expectation that by the end of the 4th year you should have submitted your PhD thesis for examination.
  • References: This is a section for you to include all key references you used in your research proposal. Each reference should be cited at least once in the proposal. Pay attention to the format of references and ensure the full, correct and consistent citation information for each reference. When possible, include a URL so each reference can be checked by a single click.

Some useful guidelines on how to write a good research proposals are listed below:

PhD Scholarships

The University of Kent offers a comprehensive variety of scholarships to PhD students who achieve outstanding academic merits from entry level and beyond in their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Search for a scholarship here. The following show selected PhD scholarships that are particular relevant for applicants who are interested in studying a topic related to cyber security with one or more supervisors from the iCSS.

iCSS Scholarship 2022

Funding is available for 3 years at the current home fee rate of £4,405 or the overseas rate of £21,200 per annum together with a maintenance grant of £15,609 per annum (2022/23 figures).

Please note:

For those applying to the School of Computing or the School of Engineering, the funding covers the full tuition fee rate (at the home or overseas level) plus the maintenance grant.

For those applying to the School of Politics and International Relations, the scholarship covers the tuition fee at the home rate only plus the maintenance fee. Overseas applicants will need to make up the difference between the home and overseas tuition fees.

Deadline for applications:

Midnight on Monday 31st May 2022 UK summer time (UTC+1). Note that you do not needed to have agreed on a supervisor prior to submitting your application.

Criteria:

A first or 2.1 bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree (or equivalent) with Merit or above, in a relevant subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.

Applicants from the UK, the EU and overseas are welcome. We also welcome applications from people with disabilities, people of all gender identities, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) applicants.

The topic must be broadly related to cyber security. The following core members of iCSS are eligible to be the principal PhD supervisor for this scholarship:

School of Computing

School of Engineering

School of Politics and International Relations

Applicants who are interested, should study the relevant supervisors’ research interests and contact them to discuss possible cyber security related topics. Applicants should write one research proposal on a self-selected topic for their application, but should also indicate other topics they are interested in.

How to apply

When applying, students should follow the University of Kent’s online application process. As part of the process, students should include the following:

– reasons for study
– outline research proposal
– a properly formatted CV
– details/evidence of qualifications (including all university degree certificates and transcripts)
– two academic references
– other personal information and supporting documentation.

Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs)

PhD Supervisors: Professor Julio Hernandez-Castro and Dr Carlos Perez Delgado

The School of Computing are currently inviting applications for a PhD scholarship in relation to the project ‘Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs)’, as part of the EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub. This project will investigate QRNGs, analyse and develop new statistical tests of randomness leading to new certification schemes that would help in guaranteeing the “quantumness” and security of new QRNGs.

PhD project

The project comprises the study of randomness generation and assessment, with a focus on Quantum Random Number Generators. They will learn how different models generate entropy and how to measure it, as well as how to mount side channel attacks and defend against them. These will include power attacks, temperature-based attacks, voltage attacks, fault injection and others, and will study how to best detect them and protect against them. There will be room as well to study and develop new security quantum protocols that could prove the advantages of using quantum technologies over classical ones.

We also aim to study mount general attacks against classical TRNGs that QRNGs are safe from, thus trying to prove a quantum advantage in QRNGs over classical, cheaper and better studied TRNGs. Finally, the candidate will critically examine current certification pathways and suggest new ways to make QRNG certification more stringent and meaningful.

Role requirements The ideal candidate will have a strong background in mathematics and/or physics with an interest in Quantum Physics, and should be interested in testing existing randomness tests, developing new ones, and evaluating the security of both classical random number generators and QRNGs both by analysis of output and by exploring and defending against side-channel attacks. Interest or experience in electronics will be valuable as well.

The candidate will be supervised by Prof. Julio Hernandez-Castro (jch27@kent.ac.uk) and Dr Carlos Perez Delgado (c.perez@kent.ac.uk), both core members of iCSS.

Funding availability: Home fee rate of £4,596 per annum together with a maintenance grant of £16,062 which will increase per year in line with UKRI stipend and allowance rates. There will be an option for a 6 month extension for the stipend only (depending on available funding).

Length of award: 3 years

Start date: October 2022 or as soon as possible afterwards

Criteria: A first or 2.1 degree or a master’s degree in computer science, mathematics, physics or statistics

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.

Open to UK, EU and Overseas applicants. Please note that funding is available at the home fee rate only – EU and Overseas applicants can apply but will need to make up for the difference between the home fees and overseas fees. We particularly welcome applications from people with disabilities and from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) applicants.

How to apply:

Please complete our online application and specify the project title Quantum Random Number Generators (QRNGs). As part of the process, students should include the following:

– reasons for study
– a properly formatted CV
– details/evidence of qualifications (including all university degree certificates and transcripts)
– two academic references
– other personal information and supporting documentation.

Contact Us

If you have difficulties identifying research topics or supervisors, please contact Professor Shujun Li for advice.

If you have questions on the School level PhD admissions procedure, please contact CEMSadmissions@kent.ac.uk.