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PhD Studentship: In Securing Smart Farming via Blockchain

Newcastle University - Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: See advert text
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 25th September 2020
Closes: 31st January 2021
Reference: 8050F

Value of award: Full UK/EU fees (eligibility criteria applies to EU students) and annual living allowance of £15,285

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration: April 2021 for 3 years

Application closing date: 31st January 2021


Traditional smart farming systems manage data and program execution in a centralized fashion and are prone to inaccurate data, data distortion and misuse, as well as cyber-attacks. E.g an unsecure execution of a crop management program leads to a substantial product loss. Blockchain-based solutions can significantly improve the performance and security of the agri-tech sector by decentralising processes. Examples include traceability (equipment, grain movement), food supply-chain authenticity, crop insurance (e.g. bad weather), secure transactions and micro-farm lettings, and creating marketplaces for rare plants/herbs.

This project aims to minimise the cyber risks of smart farming technologies via blockchain. We aim to:

  • Evaluate, systematize, and contextualize existing knowledge and practice on the use of blockchain in smart farming,
  • Establish a state-of-the-art agri-tech experimental testbed at NU, utilising the existing NUFarms platforms,
  • Design a lightweight blockchain-based framework for smart farming (particularly for automated crop management of cultivation, treatment, harvest,) exploiting sensor data,
  • Implement a proof-of-concept system using the NUFarms platform and evaluate it via real-world and simulated experiments.

This is an interdisciplinary project between computing science and agriculture and the student is expected to have a strong interest in practical problem solving. Previous experience with programming and basic understanding of hardware and software security is essential. Previous knowledge on blockchain, sensors and IoT platforms is desirable.

Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Name of supervisor(s)

  • Maryam Mehrnezhad, Changyu Dong, Dave George, Yit Arn Teh,

Eligibility Criteria

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in Computing Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Agriculture, or a related subject.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8050F in the programme of study section
  • select PhD Computer Science (full time) - Computing Science as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code COMP022 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code COMP022 and state how your interests and experience relate to the topics outlined above
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates (if available) and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications (if available)

Please also send a copy of your application documents to


Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad

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