Institute of Cyber Security for Society (iCSS)

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

PhD Studentships

The University of Kent has a number of doctoral studentships starting in the academic year 2023-2024 that are particularly relevant for applicants who are interested in studying a topic related to cyber security with one or more supervisors from the iCSS.

iCSS Studentship 2023-2024

The iCSS is sponsoring two doctoral scholarships starting from September 2023. The call is open to candidates interested in pursuing a PhD programme within the three participating schools of iCSS (School of Computing, School of Engineering, School of Politics and International Relations), on a research project directly linked to iCSS.

Successful candidates of the scholarships will receive the following:

  • Annual stipend at UKRI rates (£17,668 in 2022/23);
  • Annual tuition fees at Home rates (£4,596 in 2022/23)
    • 2023/24 rates to be announced.

NOTE: This scholarship call covers full costs of Home (UK) applicants. EU and international applicants are welcome to apply but they must be willing to make up the fee difference between Home and International rates.

Entry requirements

Applicants to a PhD programme should normally hold a good Honours degree (First or 2:1) or a Master’s Degree (at Merit or Distinction) in a relevant discipline, or the equivalent from an internationally recognised institution. In addition, programmes of study at individual schools have specific entry requirements that need to be fulfilled (for these, please check under the ‘entry requirements’ tab on Kent’s course finder page).

Application process

Applications for the Kent Research Institute scholarships will be student-led. The applicant is required to contact at least one of the following eligible PhD supervisors of iCSS to discuss their proposed project topic and get one or more of them to agree as a named supervisor:

Note that it is possible to name more than one supervisor. Having two named supervisors from two different schools is encouraged. Contact the iCSS Director Professor Shujun Li if you have general queries or find it difficult to identify an appropriate supervisor.

Applicants should follow the University of Kent’s online application process. As part of the process, you should include the following:

  • your reasons for study;
  • your research proposal;
  • how your research fits with the iCSS’s research themes and cross-cutting topics;
  • details of your qualifications (including at least all university transcripts and degree certificates);
  • two academic references; and
  • other relevant personal information and supporting documentation.

Further information on how to apply is detailed below.


The application deadline for the scholarships is midnight on Monday 10 April 2023.

We encourage applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible, as the selection process will take place immediately after each application is received.

Other 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 are selected PhD scholarships that are particularly relevant for applicants who are interested in studying a topic related to cyber security with one or more supervisors from the iCSS.

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:
    • If you are applying for a specific PhD scholarship, please indicate this at the beginning of the “Reasons for Study” field.

The University of Kent requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. For more information on English language requirements, please visit this page.

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:

Contact Us

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

If you have questions on the PhD admissions procedure, please contact