PhD study

We welcome applications from students to come to study for a research degree in Security and Privacy at University of Edinburgh. We are currently accepting applications for entry in October 2019, or earlier subject to funding and supervisor availability.

PhD research projects

Some suggested PhD projects are given on the PhD topics page. If you are interested in one of these topics, please contact the named supervisor. Read the application section below first.

We also welcome suggestions of other topics from candidates. You should first identify a potential supervisor, then send some information about yourself and your desired area of research, and why you've chosen the particular person. To find a potential supervisor, try:

  • The list of people associated with the Security and Privacy research programme in Informatics.
  • Other researchers in the Informatics directory may supervise PhDs topics that connect their area to Security and Privacy.
  • Finally, if your area of interest overlaps Informatics with another discipline such as Engineering, Maths, Law, Politics, Business, then look at the researchers linked on the University Cyber Security Research Network.

Please don't spam lots of people. A carefully written, relevant message is much more likely to get a positive response or be passed on.


Funding is usually awarded to students rather than projects. Outstanding candidates may be able to win scholarships; for autumn entry, early application is strongly encouraged as scholarship deadlines begin from December onwards. For full details see the PG Fees and Funding page. Some projects may have dedicated funding available, please ask the potential supervisor.

Funding is available for topics that connect to our EPSRC CDTs, you may wish to apply to one of them directly (note that the CDTs have different application procedures and have a 4-year programme including a Masters year):

There are also opportunities for funding from The Alan Turing Institute which will mean splitting time between Edinburgh and the Alan Turing Institute hub in London. Applications may be made to us or directly to the ATI. You should discuss this option with your potential supervisor.


PhD applications require an identified supervisor, CV, previous degree transcript(s), names of referees and a research proposal. The research proposal can be a statement of your own ideas, or an elaborated version of an idea from us. 

A good research proposal demonstrates basic understanding of an area from a research point of view.  It should suggest some avenues to investigate and a methodology to follow, and include some scholarly references which you have studied. We don't give more explicit instructions on writing the research proposal, since it is used as part of the assessment process; however, time permitting, your potential supervisor should be willing to review a draft before you submit and give you some feedback.  We prefer proposals about 3-5 pages long, to give you space to set out an idea and plan.

Please note that PhD scholarships are competitive and admission is highly selective even for students with their own funding. As a guide, at a minimum you should have obtained a 2:1 class undergraduate degree or an MSc with distinction from a UK University, or an equivalent level from outside the UK.

For details of how to apply online please:

You also need to select a research institute inside Informatics to apply to. This is usually the main research institute of your nominated supervisor; S&P research is spread across all institutes. If in doubt, select Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science (LFCS), the institute can be reassigned by us after application.