UCL Computer Science


CDT Cybersecurity

It has become increasingly apparent that the world's cybersecurity challenges will not be resolved by specialists working in isolation

To find out core information about this degree, such as entry requirements, programme length and cost, visit the UCL Graduate Degrees site.

Course information 

It has become increasingly apparent that the challenges that arise from the integration of emerging technologies into existing social, commercial, legal and political systems will not be resolved by specialists working in isolation. Rather, these complex problems require the efforts of people who can cross disciplinary boundaries, communicate beyond their own fields, and comprehend the context in which others operate. Computer science, information security, encryption, criminology, psychology, international relations, public policy, philosophy of science, legal studies, and economics combine to form the ecosystem within which cybersecurity problems and solutions are found but training people to think and work across these boundaries has proven difficult.

This exciting collaboration brings together research teams in three UCL departments - Computer Science, Security and Crime Science, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy --- in order to increase the capacity of the UK to respond to future information and cybersecurity challenges. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the CDT will train cohorts of highly skilled experts drawn from across the spectrum of Engineering and Social Sciences, able to become the next generation of UK leaders in industry and government, public policy, and scientific research. The CDT will equip them with a broad understanding of all sub-fields of cybersecurity, as well as specialized knowledge and transferable skills to be able to operate professionally in business, academic, and policy circles.

“We’re delighted to be able to play this important role in shaping the future of cyber security research. Working closely with industry and government partners, and across disciplines is the only way to comprehensively tackle the complex problems we continue to face in cyber security. We’re looking forward to welcoming some of the brightest, most innovative thinkers to our programme – beginning in September 2019.” Professor David Pym, CDT Director

The CDT will admit candidates with a strong background in STEM (CS, Mathematics, Engineering, Physics) or Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, International Relations, Public Policy, Crime Science, Economics, and Management), either recent graduates or mid-career. Each will be trained in research and innovation skills in the multidisciplinary facets of cybersecurity, (computing, crime science, management and public policy) and then specialize within a discipline, with industrial experience through joint industrial projects and internships.

About us

UCL is a world leader in teaching and researching cybersecurity. It is in a unique position to deliver on the vision of this CDT in cybersecurity, because of its ambitious portfolio of projects and over 40 members of faculty with internationally excellent expertise across all aspects of cybersecurity. The team is led by the Computer Science department, which was the top UK department by research output in the UK REF 2014. UCL is recognized by GCHQ as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and Teaching. 

The departments involved hold active research grants worth £17.9M in cybersecurity, funded by the EPSRC, Royal Society, EU H2020, ERC amongst others, including £300K of active direct financial gifts from industrial partners. UCL leads the PETRAS project on IoT security (£9.5M) as well as its successor, SDTaP (£13M), the IRIS project on secure interfaces (£6.1M); the Glasshouses project on distributed ledgers (£0.9M); Cyber Readiness for Boards (£1M), ECSEPA (£250K) and BARAC on Algorithmic transparency (£0.6M). UCL‘s Departments of Security and Crime Science and Computer Science also contribute a secure data lab — the only such facility in a UK university — which is police-assured to hold sensitive data classified up to the level of secret.

Course overview and progression

Students in a workshop

The programme will provide students with core skills and knowledge at the forefront of computing (systems security, cryptography, software security, network security), crime science (cybercrime) and policy (information security management, public policy). It has long been recognised that cybersecurity is a ‘wicked problem’ – one that spills across disciplines, jurisdictions, and borders of all kinds. Our approach to multidisciplinary training will ensure that doctoral students achieve deep domain-specific expertise, while being trained in other areas. We believe that by working side by side with students from other disciplines, PhD candidates in our CDT will emerge as individuals who can identify problems that can be resolved using a range of tools and methods, as well as being confident in their ability to work effectively with experts from across the socio-technical divide. Joint taught modules, skills activities, and joint research projects involving multidisciplinary teams cements their ability to work effectively in such setting. This approach ensures we develop multidisciplinary experts, rather than generalists.

The CDT will provide a 4-year programme of training in cutting-edge disciplinary skills in computing, social sciences and humanities, as well as transferable skills relating to cross sector and cross disciplinary communication, teamwork, public dissemination and professional practice. This is achieved through a combination of structured compulsory and elective taught modules and training activities, as well as an `apprenticeship’ model involving hands-on personal and team-based research under the supervision of a lead in the field of cybersecurity.

Year 1

Students will complete a portfolio of training elements, which are a requirement of funding under the CDT.  In Year 1, students will audit five taught modules to develop their expertise in information security management, cybersecurity, and cybercrime, and will provide them with a solid grounding in research methods.  This will equip them with the skills and perspectives to solve complex cybersecurity challenges. They will be assessed through the completion of a six-month research project and an integrated assessment that draws on the material delivered across the taught modules.

Years 2 and 3

Taught disciplinary and multi-disciplinary training will continue in years two and three, with students attending further elective modules.  Throughout the programme, shorter training sessions and activities will be used to develop transferable skills, as well as broadening student exposure to world-class research practices, knowledge and skills in cybersecurity.  


  • CDT scholarships offer tuition fees plus an annual stipend. 
  • To check your eligibility please send an expression of interest including your CV, personal statement and project proposal to: cybersecuritycdt@ucl.ac.uk
  • Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis with shortlisted applicants called to interview. 

How to apply

Details on how to apply for Autumn 2020 entry to follow.