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Software Engineering for Security- or Safety-Critical Systems

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd November 2021
Closes: 24th January 2022
Reference: 4329

Streatham Campus 

We are living in a world dominated by software. Hence, it is no surprise that our society depends on the safety and security of complex systems. Still, developing secure and safety software systems is a mostly unsolved problem. In this project, we will work on making the world a safer and more secure place by developing techniques that help software developers to build systems that are, by design, safe, secure, and privacy-friendly.

The concrete topic will be decided in agreement with the supervisor and could, e.g., range from developing programming languages for security- or safety-critical systems, developing program analysis techniques (e.g., static analysis) to find safety and security issues early in the development life-cycle, developing reverse engineering techniques for finding security issues, novel security testing approaches (e.g., advanced fuzzing), or language-based security for embedded devices or re-configurable hardware (e.g., FPGAs). Also tools and techniques for improving the software supply-chain are in scope of this project. It also could focus on using data science techniques to study software security. Actual target systems could range from web applications (e.g., focusing on web security), to the security of development tools themselves, to enterprise systems, to AI/ML-based systems, to traditional software systems. 

For this project, we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with an outstanding Computer Science, Software Engineering, or equivalent degree with a strong interest in at least two of the following areas: software testing,  reverse engineering, software security, web security, compiler construction, program analysis, fuzzing,  embedded systems, application security, safety, data science. 

For further information, please contact Prof Achim Brucker:  

https://emps.exeter.ac.uk/computer-science/staff/ab1185 

Entry Requirements 

This studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate. 

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

Computer Science, Software Engineering, or closely related degree required. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  

Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/). 

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. 

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