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Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday

Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday

Welcome to the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cyber Security for the Everyday at Royal Holloway.

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The Centre was first established in 2013, and has as its main objective to develop cohorts of multidisciplinary researchers with a broad understanding of cyber security and a strong appreciation of the interplay between technical and social issues.

Research in the CDT will address challenges concerning:

  • the technologies deployed in digital systems that people use, sometimes inadvertently, every day.
  • the everyday societal experience and practice of security.

The CDT is centred around Royal Holloway's Information Security Group and partners with departments throughout the institution.  CDT researchers follow a four-year PhD programme. The first year consists of comprehensive multidisciplinary cyber security training. The remaining three years focus on research in an advanced topic in the field of cyber security. 

In each annual cohort, we award approximately ten fully-funded PhD studentships (four years of enhanced stipend and fees). We welcome applications from candidates with undergraduate and/or masters qualifications in a wide range of technical and social disciplines of relevance to cyber security. 

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Please explore the tabs below to learn more about the entry requirements, funding and eligibility, and how to apply to Royal Holloway's CDT in Cyber Security for the Everyday


CDT researchers follow a four-year PhD programme, consisting of a Taught Element, Research Element and an Internship

Taught Element
This is delivered over the first year and aims to equip students with a baseline cyber security “body of knowledge”, spanning both technical and social aspects, including a core understanding of cyber security in practice. The taught element is delivered through a combination of modules, projects and research skills development training.

Highlights include:

  • Cyber Security Fundamentals. The four core cyber security modules from Royal Holloway’s GCHQ-accredited MSc Information Security programme.
  • Principles of Securing Cyber Societies. An introduction to reasoning about cyber security from a social science perspective.
  • Human Aspects of Information Security and Privacy. Concerning the relationship between people and cyber security.
  • Cyber Security “In the Wild”. A programme of visits to the premises of, and visits from, external CDT partner organisations.
  • Security Practice Laboratory. Two-weeks of intensive “hands-on” training exercises in a cyber security laboratory.
  • Mini project. A short six-week mini project, resulting in a “white paper” report and presentation.
  • Summer project. A three-month research project resulting in a substantive research report and presentation.
  • Research skills. A comprehensive research skills development programme running throughout the year.

Research Element
Three years of research in an area of specialism relating to cyber security, under the supervision of a dedicated supervisory team. Throughout their study, CDT researchers are expected to attend and present work at research seminars, workshops or other events off-campus, including internationally.

Potential CDT research themes include:  

  • Embedded technology security. Providing security and privacy for a sensor-rich hyper-connected cyberspace, including consumer electronics, industrial automation, automotive (avionics and vehicles) and medical devices.
  • Secure and trusted systems. Detecting security vulnerabilities and shielding against external threats for a variety of systems ranging from personal devices to desktop workstations and cloud infrastructure.
  • Cryptography and its applications. Developing and analysing the strong cryptographic infrastructure necessary for future real world applications, including outsourced data storage systems, post-quantum settings, blockchain applications.
  • Trust, rights and understanding. Exploring what mechanisms we can employ to better understand and practise cyber security in social, cultural and political contexts.
  • Methodological innovation in researching cyber security. Developing new approaches to exploring cyber security in order to rethink cyber security policy and system design through, for example, community engagement and ethnographically-informed research.
  • Difference and inequalities in cyber security. Exploring how digital systems influence social differences and inequalities and asking what more progressive, inclusive and just forms of cyber security might look like.

Every CDT researcher is expected to undertake the equivalent of a three-month internship with an external CDT partner during their study period. There is flexibility in when and how this is instantiated. Over twenty organizations have already pledged to support internships. Previous internship destinations include The Cabinet Office, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Research Redmond, Shine TV (Hunted), Mozilla Foundation, IBM Zurich, and NATO SHAPE.

Applicants should have, or be expecting to obtain, a high-quality (ideally first class) undergraduate or masters (ideally distinction) degree in a relevant discipline. Suitable backgrounds are (but not limited to) computer science, criminology, economics, electronics engineering, geography, geopolitics, information security, law,  mathematics,  philosophy, politics, psychology, software engineering and war studies. We will also consider applicants with a professional background, so long as they are able to provide evidence of demonstrable academic skills as well as practical experience.

Following UKRI’s announcement that UKRI studentships will be opened up to international candidates from the 2021/22 academic year, we can announce that we are now able to recruit international students to commence PhD study with the CDT in September 2021. International students* will receive the full award, to include stipend and fees. 
*EU and EEA students who are recruited to start from AY 2021/22 onwards, will become international students. 

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter  

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student 

Please ensure you are familiar with the eligibility criteria set by UKRI and their terms and conditions.  

Please also refer to EPSRC Student Eligibility for further details.


Application to the CDT involves a three-step process.

Step 1: Informal enquiry

Candidates should make an initial informal enquiry by email to discuss suitability for the CDT programme. Please include:

  • a CV highlighting academic background and experience;
  • a brief motivation for pursuing a PhD in Cyber Security at Royal Holloway.

Before sending an enquiry, please make sure you are aware of the entrance requirements, including those related to CDT funding.

Step 2: Formal application

After an initial assessment, applicants may be invited to submit a formal application.

When filling in your application online, please select "PhD Information Security" (under "Information Security Group"). You should include the following four pieces of information in your application (these can be covered in section labelled Supporting Statement):

  • A clear statement that you are applying to the CDT in Cyber Security for the Everyday.
  • A detailed explanation why you wish to pursue a PhD in cyber security.
  • Why you think you would be a good fit for the CDT, and why the CDT training model is suitable for you.
  • An indication of the research areas that most interest you, and why (you do not have to formally define a full research project, although you are welcome to do so).

In the online application, you will be asked to nominate one referee. For CDT admissions, we will need a second reference letter. When sending your application please also name a second referee. You should contact this second referee directly, and ask them to send their reference letter directly to  (the first referee will receive an automated request from the admissions system, and their reference letter will be included in your application). 

Step 3: Interview

We will start a formal assessment as soon as we receive your application and will contact you as soon as a decision is made. In most cases, if we are impressed with your application then we will invite you to visit Royal Holloway for an interview.


Prof Keith Martin is the CDT Director and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the CDT. Responsibilities include coordinating recruitment, overseeing delivery of training, arrangement and management of supervision and liaison with external partners. The CDT Director also acts as the ultimate point of contact for CDT student welfare issues.


Claire Hudson is the CDT Manager, supporting day-to-day running of the CDT and acting as a first point of contact for CDT students, with particular responsibilities for managing admissions, financial reporting, communications and event management.

Management Committee

The Management Committee is chaired by the CDT Director, and supports all aspects of the CDT operation. The Management Committee is:

Professor Peter Adey
Professor Martin Albrecht
Professor Carlos Cid (Deputy Director)
Professor Lizzie Coles-Kemp
Dr Rikke Jensen
Dr Dan O'Keeffe

Advisory Panel

The Advisory Panel provides independent advice on the strategic direction, coverage and progress of the CDT. The Advisory Panel includes experts from industry, academia and public sector. The Advisory Panel is:

Professor Emma Barrett            University of Manchester
Timothy Bauge                             Research Group Leader: Thales UK
Bedria Bedri                                  Independent Advisor
Robert Carolina                            Executive Director: ICSI
Professor Liqun Chen                 University of Surrey
Conn Crawford                             Partnership Development Manager: 5G North East
Budgie Dhanda                            3BDA
Professor Paul Dorey                  CSO Confidential. IISP
Sarah Foster                                  DCMS      
Dr Richard Horne                         PwC
Professor Johannes Kinder         Bundeswehr University, Munich
Emma Leith                                   Director Cyber Programme & Strategy: Santander
Peter Lockhart                              Roke Manor Research
Professor Igor Muttik                   CEO: Cyber Curio
Professor Kenny Paterson          ETH Zurich
Professor Bart Preneel                KU Leuven
Dr Simon Shiu                               HP Labs
Dr Thyla van der Merwe             Cryptography Engineering Manager: Mozilla

2020 Cohort

James Barr
James completed a BA in Politics and an MSc in Defence, Development and Diplomacy at Durham University; with a focus on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and their impacts upon modern warfare. After leaving university, James worked in education, supporting children with Special Educational Needs. His research interests centre around how cyber impacts International Relations, utilising systems modelling and interdisciplinary insights.
Stephanie Itimi
Stephanie has a BA in Economics from Coventry University and an MSc in Global Economic Governance and Policy from SOAS, University of London. She has played a significant role in the development and manufacturing of high-profile initiatives in Slovakia, Morocco, the United Kingdom and several West and East African nations through her diverse policy and consultative experience with the UK Home Office, BBC Africa, Essex County Council, UN Women and the European Commission, promoting freedom of information, digital literacy and gender equality. Her research interests are focused on the human factors of cybersecurity within emerging economies
Dan Jones
Dan studied computer science at the University of Cambridge. After
finishing in 2015, he spent several years working as a software
developer. He recently completed a masters in the Mathematics of
Cybersecurity at Bristol University. Dan is excited to join
the CDT, and pursue research in cryptography with an eye for
Sofia Liemann Escobar Sofia graduated from King’s College London in 2018 with First Class Honours in War Studies. She then obtained a Master’s in International Security at Sciences Po in Paris. She is currently interested in the intersection of strategy, geopolitics, and cyber security.
Kyra Mozley
Kyra joined the CDT after completing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge. Her interests focus on applying machine learning and big data methods to cyber security problems, as well as finding vulnerabilities in IoT and mobile sensor systems
Elle Pearson
Elle achieved a First Class BA(Hons) in Criminology, Psychology and Social Justice from the University of Sussex (University Centre Croydon). Recipient of the 2018 University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor’s prize for Exceptional Performance and the 2018 UCC Principal Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She then moved on to attain a MA with Distinction in War and Society at Swansea University. Work included exploring the adoption of militarised processes and military inspired digital technology within Policing and the Criminal Justice System. Research interests focus on the intersection of social harm, risk, profiling, power and knowledge in relation to digital technologies. Particularly, how algorithms, Big Data and surveillance interlink with domestic policing and the Criminal Justice System and their wider social consequences. Elle's interests are grounded in critical criminology, zemiology and cybersecurity.
Giuseppe Raffa
Giuseppe holds a MSc in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy. Prior to joining the CDT, he spent more than fifteen years in the automotive industry developing Hardware-In-the-Loop systems for engine control units. Giuseppe is currently studying to complete his MSc in Information Security at Royal Holloway. He is mostly interested in penetration testing, malware analysis and development of innovative tools for cybersecurity
Emma Smith
Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Mathematics at King's College London before completing Part III Maths at the University of Cambridge where she focused on combinatorics and number theory. Her research interests are centered around cryptography but she is also interested in the wider picture of cyber security in society.

2019 Cohort

Neil Ashdown

Neil completed an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford. After leaving university he worked for defence and security company Jane's in a variety of roles, latterly as the deputy editor of the monthly magazine, Jane's Intelligence Review. He is interested in the intersection of cyber security and intelligence.

Nicola Bates

Nicola recently completed the Information Security MSc at Royal Holloway, working on autonomous vehicle security for her dissertation. Prior to this she spent over 11 years working within the Transaction Services team at PwC London. She also has a degree in physics from Cambridge University.

Calum Bax