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Fully Funded PhDs in a Range of Crime and Security Topics including Cybersecurity, IoT, Sensors

University College London

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £16,500
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 20th December 2018
Closes: 15th July 2019

The following FIVE studentships are available for a September 2019 start for our four-year programme (MRes+PhD). These studentships are available for ‘pre-set' topics or for ‘open topics'. Pre-set topics are specific topics that have been suggested by supervisors here at UCL and which they will be happy to supervise – some are detailed below. Open topics are topics proposed by the applicant and cover a very wide range which can be seen in the Scholarships section here:

Eligibility: These awards are open to Home/EU fee paying students only.

What the awards cover: Each award covers full stipend of approx. £16,500 per annum for four years, full Home/EU fees, plus conference funds of £1000 per annum.

Deadline for application: 15th July 2019 (However, we advise that you apply early, as we will be awarding the studentships as soon as we identify excellent candidates.)

How to apply: All applications must be made through the usual UCL SECReT (UCL Security Science Doctoral Centre) application procedure. 

Come to our OPEN EVENING on 21st March 2019 6pm at UCL, London 

The open evening includes presentations by programme leaders about the vision and goals of the centre, our areas of research, and the wider activities that students will participate in as part of their training, and also essential tips on the application and scholarship award process.

To register for the open evening click here:


Open topics:

If you have a topic that you would like to explore that is not covered by the pre-set topics, you may apply for one of our studentships. In this case please detail your proposed research topic in your application – note that your topic must fit with the future crimes vision and agenda of the Dawes Centre for Future Crime. You can learn more about the centre here:

If you would like to check the suitability of your proposed topic before submitting an application please email Professor Shane Johnson:

Pre-set topics:

Future crime and the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of objects containing embedded electronic systems that permit them to collect and process data and to communicate wirelessly with other objects in the network. The IoT includes household products and control systems (e.g. fridges, thermostats, and security systems), building management systems (e.g. heating, ventilation, and access control), medical equipment (patient monitors, information), and retail equipment (point of sale terminals, security systems). The IoT makes our lives easier and systems more efficient but also generates potential opportunities for crime. The aim of this PhD is to understand and suggest approaches to combatting vulnerabilities of the IoT, giving special attention to the ‘everyday’ crimes experienced by the general population that are typically overlooked in cyber security research.

Possible supervisor(s) at UCL: Prof Steve Hailes. Contact: 

Smarter Sensing: Enhancing Operational Policing through Contextual Awareness

Over the last two decades there has been a rapid global rollout of WiFi and it is now a ubiquitous technology. In addition to its primary use of enabling access, WiFi can be used to sense the environment it operates in. The UCL Security Technology group led by Dr. Kevin Chetty (Security & Crime Science) have developed a world- leading position in passive WiFi sensing: The project team have recently developed methods to enable information about the micro-motions of targets to be obtained, opening-up the possibility for activity recognition and biometric identification using a technique termed micro-Doppler analysis. The biggest obstacle to achieving the above capabilities comes from the lack of WiFi micro-Doppler signal data labelled with the human activities causing the pattern, with which to train the Machine Learning models – known as the cold start problem. To address this, the project will pioneer using video data of unscripted natural activity, and process the data using computer vision approaches.

The proposed project would be co-supervised by Dr Chetty and Dr Lewis Griffin who leads the Computational Security Science (Compass) research group and is the Director of the UCL DeepMind doctoral training centre in AI, based in the Dept. of Computer Science. Supervisor(s) at UCL: Dr Kevin Chetty Contact: Dr Lewis Griffin Contact: 

Development of Novel Dry-tagging Technologies

An exciting opportunity at UCL’s Institute for Materials Discovery to create new approaches to molecular identification technologies to ‘invisibly’ tag items of value to be fingerprinted at a future date, without the use of classic liquid dispersions which may damage or compromise high value assets. This project will be carried out in close collaboration with Dawes Centre for Future Crime at UCL. This project will aim to develop a solvent-free route to deposit unique molecular signatures without leaving a visible imprint, which may be quickly and easily analysed. The PhD will cover identifying and establishing a tagging route compatible with the remit, synthesis of the tagging agent(s) and development of the deposition process (including construction and adaptation of existing equipment). The project will also explore the engineering of identification technologies for a robust, reliable, and ideally handheld identification unit. The project will consider both intrinsic scientific issues (to be written into academic papers) and potential commercial application, accounting for scalability, cost, and route to exploitation. This postgraduate research opportunity for a successful candidate with a minimum of an upper second class degree (or equivalent) in Materials Sciences, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Physics, and/or a broad range of relevant backgrounds. The multidisciplinary nature of the project requires a candidate with a keen interest in new materials, fabrication technology and engineering, and experience in a laboratory setting. The successful candidate will conduct research in the state-of-the-art new Materials Discovery laboratory ( with well-funded equipment and consumables. This highly interdisciplinary research will involve many national and international academic and industrial collaborations, so a desire to proactively interact with industrial partners is highly desirable.

Possible supervisor(s) at UCL: Prof Kwang-Leong Choy, e-mail: 

About the funders:

The Dawes Centre for Future Crime at UCL was established in 2016 with a £3.7M grant from the Dawes Trust. It has the broad vision of completing cutting-edge, application-focused research designed to meet the challenges of the changing nature of crime. Research aims to both forecast the nature and spread of future crime opportunities, and to propose methods for tackling them effectively before they become established. 

UCL SECReT is the £17m international centre for PhD training in security and crime science at University College London, the first centre of its kind in Europe. We offer the most comprehensive integrated PhD programme for students wishing to pursue multidisciplinary security or crime-related research degrees.

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