Cybersecurity PhD studentship at BU: what we’re offering, and pointers for your application

We’re hiring!

For those of you who don’t already know, we are currently offering a fully-funded PhD studentship in the area of cybersecurity. The studentships is fully-funded by BU and DSTL. It includes a £14000 maintenance grant to cover living expenses, and a fee-waiver for 36 months. Research costs for field work and conference attendance will also be met.

The studentship is concerned with risk assessment for complex systems of systems. This project would suit someone with an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in computer science or a related discipline, with interests in HCI, software engineering, or model-based systems engineering in a cybersecurity context.

More details about the studentship project and how to apply can be found here.

Bournemouth is a thriving town on the beautiful south coast of England. Its stunning seven mile beach holds four European blue flags and two seasides awards. Despite the town’s closeness to natural beauty such as the New Forest national park and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, it is less than two hours from London, with good transport links and an airport.

Applying for a PhD? We’re here to help

Writing a PhD application isn’t always easy, so I’m here to help. Like any prospective supervisor, I’m more than happy to provide comments and thoughts on any ideas that candidates find hard to frame; I’m also happy to look over and provide feedback on any draft application. Although the studentship application process is competitive, I want to see as many strong applications as possible. However, to save your time and mine, please consider the following before you apply.

1.  Follow the instructions provided

You application needs to follow the procedure described in the job posting; emailing me your CV and/or cover letter does not constitute an application!

2.  Tell us what you want to do

The application form requires you to complete a ‘Research Degree Synopsis’. This is basically a proposal describing the research you want to carry out within the context of the studentship. This is your opportunity to show us how much you understand about the problem described, and what research you intend carrying out to make a contribution in solving this problem.  Your PhD doesn’t have to solve the problem, but you need to say how the work you want to do takes a step towards a solution. Although you are asked to provide a synopsis ‘For PhD Funded Studentships’, you might find the synopsis ‘For Non-Defined Research Projects’ useful for structuring what you write.

3.  Have a plan

In describing ‘the approach you would envisage taking’ for your research synopsis, do think about:

  • What research objective do you want to achieve, and what outputs do you intend to produce?
  • What plan of action do you would take in achieving your goal and producing your outputs?
  • What methods do you intend employing when actioning the plan?

If this sounds like a generic project plan, it’s because it is. Doing a PhD (at least in the UK) entails completing an “apprentice” three-year, one-person project. I say ‘apprentice’ because a PhD is really a degree on how to do research in a particular area of scholarship, so completing your project is effectively completing an apprenticeship for a career in research. Because it’s a form of apprenticeship, your approach doesn’t have to be perfect, but we are looking for evidence that you can structure your ideas into an initial plan of action.

4. Does your plan fit together?

Think about how you would evaluate your ‘approach’, and link different parts of your plan together. For example, many people start by indicating they will undertake a review of the literature. This isn’t a bad thing, but think about how outputs of this review link into the next step in your plan, and get you closer to completing your plan.

5.  Are you the best person to complete this plan?

In the synopsis, you are also expected to describe the ‘qualities’ you would bring to the research community. In answering this question, think about why you are the best person to carry out the research described in the proposal. Don’t spend to long answering this question though. You only have 1500 words, and — from my perspective — these words are best spent describing your understanding of the project, and your approach in tackling it.


If you’re preparing a PhD application — either for BU or elsewhere — I hope my comments are useful.
If you are applying for one of the studentships, I look forward to reading your application 🙂

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