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

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

Improving the Privacy and Security in Federated Learning

One industry-funded PhD studentship on “Improving the Privacy and Security in Federated Learning” is available, with transport and mobility as the main application domain.

Professor Shujun Li is the principal supervisor and Kalman Graffi of Honda Research Institute Europe (HRI-EU) in Germany is the industrial co-supervisor.

Full funding for UK and overseas applicants includes coverage of the entire tuition fee, as well as a research allowance for up to 3.5 years. Some moderate research costs, including placement visits to the industrial funder HRI-EU, are also included.

Deadline: Open until filled.

To apply, please first submit the below application materials to Professor Shujun Li at S.J.Li@kent.ac.uk. Professor Li will then advise promising applicants to submit formal applications to the University of Kent.

  • A properly formatted CV with a full list of research publications including the URL (ideally a DOI-based URL) linked to each paper (for papers without a URL, please submit the paper together with your CV).
  • A research statement explaining your background, relevant research experience and interests, and understanding of main technical challenges around security and privacy of federated learning for transport and mobility.
  • All university transcripts and degree certificates.
  • Proof of your English qualifications (if any).
  • Reference letters (if already secured; when you submit the formal application, you will be asked to provide two references who will provide their recommendations online).

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 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.

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 CEMSadmissions@kent.ac.uk.