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Four Full-Time DSTL PhD Studentships

North West Doctoral Training Centre DSTL Studentships (Lancaster / Liverpool)

Closing date for applications: 20 July 2012

Applications are invited for four fully-funded DSTL PhD studentships to study behavioural aspects of Internet security. The studentships are available for three years from 1 October 2012, and will be based at Lancaster University and the University of Liverpool. The four available studentships are:

PhD-1: Language correlates of group trust and its relationship to group effectiveness

Based in the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at Liverpool University, and supervised by Dr. Stacey Conchie (Liverpool) and Dr. Paul Taylor (Lancaster), you will identify reliable language markers of trust among online group members, identify how dimensions of trust, as measured by language, change across established phases of group development, and identify the resilience of group development to external factors.

PhD-2: Weak signals as predictors and influencers of collective action in social media

Based in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University, and supervised by Prof. Awais Rashid (Computing) and Dr. Paul Taylor (Psychology), you will develop a new technique for detecting weak signals (i.e., emerging trends that initially appear at the fringes of online group rhetoric but quickly and unexpectedly lead to action) in large-scale datasets from online social networks. You will have a background or strong interest in computational approaches to text analysis, natural language processing or information retrieval techniques and a willingness to work across disciplines.

PhD-3: The hijacking of trust: Assessing plausibility and risk in cyberspace

Based in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University, and supervised by Dr. John Towse, Dr. Nick Race (Computing), and Dr. Kim Kaivanto (Economics), you will investigate the cognitive processes that influence on-line decision-making. In particular, you will assess how trust can be hijacked on-line (e.g., phishing exercises) and identify whether there are behavioural indices that can predict susceptibility to risky on-line behaviour.

PhD-4: Moving from anomaly detection to anomaly handling: How expert investigators interpret meaning from patterns in heterogeneous data

Based in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University and supervised by Prof. Tom Ormerod, you will use empirical and computational methods to study human expertise in anomaly detection and handling, comparing the knowledge and strategies used by experienced and inexperienced personnel working in forensic (e.g., fraud; human trafficking) and medical (e.g., nurse practitioner) domains to discover and resolve anomalies in small- and large-scale datasets indicative of undesirable activity.

The successful applicants will be part of the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre and active members of Security-Lancaster, a multidisciplinary research centre that has an active postgraduate and postdoctoral community, and an expanding programme of commercial partner engagement (see

You should be motivated, ambitious, and able to demonstrate an interest in the PhD area for which you are applying. You should hold, or expect to gain, a First class or Upper 2.1 honours degree, or its equivalent in a relevant discipline. Having or expecting to gain a Masters qualification with RCUK recognised research training will be an advantage.

These studentships are open to UK/EU nationals and will cover tuition fee and an RCUK equivalent maintenance allowance. All students will receive their own generous research support budgets (e.g., for training, conference travel, and to pay participants) and an associated travel budget, which can be used to attend national and international conferences.

Further details on each studentship are available from To apply, please email a CV, transcript of marks, 2 academic references, and a 750 word statement of interest to: In your statement of interest please indicate the studentship for which you are applying and provide an explanation for why you wish to do a PhD in that particular area.

Informal enquiries are welcome, and should be addressed to Dr. Daniel Prince (email:; Tel: 01524 510432) in the first instance.

Wed 04 July 2012