PhD & Postgraduate Research

We demonstrate and share our knowledge through a flexible training programme, educating the next generation of security experts and providing skills for the workplace.

Studying with us

Studying for a research degree is a highly rewarding and challenging process. You'll work to become a leading expert in your area with regular contact and individual supervision with your supervisor.

All our academic staff are active researchers, who are at the leading edge of their research field with international reputations in their discipline, available to supervise and guide you. We have an outstanding reputation for ongoing research in our specialist areas:

  • cyber security
  • cognitive psychology
  • conflict, development & security

This makes for a world-class research environment for you to pursue your studies. To further your interest in PhD Research, we recommend that you contact a relevant member of staff to discuss topic areas. Staff can also help you to develop and scope an appropriate proposal. We particularly support applications to work with early-career staff.

Self-funded applications

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

Industry-funded applications

Launch your career in research and development with an industry-focused, three year funded PhD for graduates with a background in scientific disciplines. Each PhD is tailored to both the subject and the requirements of a specific industry.

We will require a research proposal on the area/s you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor for your research.

This is the starting point to find a suitable supervisor who will then if interested contact the applicant for a phone interview to discuss the proposal and intended research, meaning your proposal is not your permanent topic for your PhD studies and open to negotiation. Past guidelines have suggested the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area;
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the art in this area;
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the state of the art which you would like to address in your PhD;
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue;
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections.

We recommend applicants submit their research interests and the PhD Admissions Tutor can pass their application onto the most relevant and available potential supervisor. However, If you would like to search for a suitable academic supervisor(to quote in your application) then you can find a list of our academics here.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the Applying for postgraduate study website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the Postgraduate Applications portal then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying.For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required.
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree.
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, July start date will be considered. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying form overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

PhD Supervisors

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Funded PhD Research

Our security research is strongly multidisciplinary and focuses on high quality impact. Led by our three centre's, our work crosscuts traditional security research, including Cyber Security, Behavioural Science & Transport & Infrastructure.

Current PhD Research Opportunities

Security Lancaster is proud of our PhD student research community and we are actively engaged in generating the best research projects for our students to work on.

We actively engage in creating an innovative community of security researchers in order to drive forward and breakdown the barriers of current think through multi-disciplinary research. If you want to part of our growing community of research please see below for a list of our current opportunities.

Data-Centric Systems Cyber Security (SW, Autonomous Systems), School of Computing and Communications

  • Start Date: October 2020 (an early start is an option for interested students)
  • Deadline for applicants: Open-ended
  • Interview date: TBC
  • Academic requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) BS degree, or Master's degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject
  • Hours: Full Time
Position #1: Secure Software/Operating Systems

With software underpinning virtually all computing systems, the need is to ensure that the software is developed correctly (specification, implementation) and resilient to bugs invoked operationally (stress, overload) or deliberately (attacks). We explore the broad spectrum of design, analysis and assessment of robust & resilient software/OS. Our research encompasses the development of software testing schemes, methodologies for analytical and experimental stress injection of deployed software, approaches to detect and patch vulnerabilities along with measurement techniques to quantify the 'attackability' of software.


Professors Neeraj Suri and Tracy Hall will co-supervise this research and welcome informal enquiries.

Position #2: Secure Autonomous Systems

The use of autonomous systems is encountering rapid growth as they complement and supplement human-operated systems across a variety of safety or service-critical applications covering civilian, industrial or defence needs. Autonomous systems are dynamic, involve inter-dependent mission-data-control-networking surfaces, and entail socio-technical relationship with human end-users. These attributes also expose such autonomous systems to a variety of socio-technical attacks. Developing secure autonomous systems requires fundamentally new cross-disciplinary research (sociological, AI, distributed systems and software) in creating new mission-adaptive security frameworks, developing countermeasures across inter-dependent attack surfaces, as well as develop the social science theory for societal, legal and regulatory implications. We seek candidates with matching cross-disciplinary (Sociology, AI, DS/SW) backgrounds and interests to research secure autonomous systems.


Professors Neeraj Suri, Corinne May-Chahal and Plamen Angelov will co-supervise and welcome informal enquiries.

The Security Lancaster Institute

The appointed candidate will reside in the School of Computing and Communications Cyber Security Group, which forms part of the Security Lancaster Institute. The overarching aim of the institute is to derive additional capability for collaborative, multi-disciplinary research and education. The research in the Centre is driven by an ethos of undertaking theoretically rich, use-inspired research. The latter will be achieved through close collaboration between the scientists in Security Lancaster and our industry and practice partners.

Further Details & Application Process

Each PhD position is for a three and a half years duration. Tuition fees are covered (only for EU/UK citizens) along with a tax-free stipend (~£17,000/year circa 2017-2018) for the duration of the PhD. Non-UK/EU students will need to cover their tuition. Candidates should apply using the instructions provided.