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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity. 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.

Students in a workshop

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). The department of Security and Crime Science hosts the £7.4M Dawes Centre for Future Crime at UCL which focuses on understanding and addressing the changing nature of crime.  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 secre.

Course overview and progression

words relating to cybersecurity

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.  

Year 4

Year 4, students will receive training on grant writing and/or entrepreneurship but will largely focus on completing their thesis.  Training on issues such as responsible research and innovation, writing up scientific research and the peer-review process, will provided throughout the programme.

Quad UCL


Information for applicants

Applications for the 2020 academic year open 01 November 2019

The EPSRC CDT in Cybersecurity accepts applications from:

  • Those who wish to receive a funded scholarship;
  • Those who already have a funded scholarship from another source;
  • Self-funded students.

Below you will find further information about general entry requirements, funding and eligibility.

General Entry requirements

  • You must have achieved (or are predicted to achieve) a first class or upper second class honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent international qualifications or experience). An MSc is preferred, but not essential. 
  • You must fulfil the UCL English language requirements. If your first language is not English then you will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. Further details can be found on the following UCL web page. This programme requires a Good level of English proficiency.

EPSRC Funding (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

What’s included? 4 years of PhD funding including:

  • UCL academic fees (UK/EU Fees)
  • Full tax free stipend (including London weighting)
  • Access to a Research Training Support Grant to cover expenses for research trips/conferences or workshops

To be eligible for an award of both fees and stipend (a full EPSRC award), then you must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning that you have no restrictions on how long you can stay;
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences);
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals).

How to Apply
There will be two application cycles: The application process involves three steps:

1) A formal applications to UCL via UCL Select (open from Nov 2019);
2) Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a formal interview;
3) Offers will then be made to successful applicants.

Application Timeline



Jan 31 2020- 1st round

Deadline to submit your application to UCL Select

Feb/March 2020

Formal Interviews 

15th May- 2nd round

Deadline to submit your application to UCL Select

June 2020

Formal Interviews 

Sept 2020

Programme start date

Please note that we’re looking for exceptional people for this programme. Although we have two admissions cycles listed above, we may fill all available places in the first round. We do not hold back spaces for the second round – they will only be available if we have not found the right applicants earlier in the year. If you’re interested in joining us, apply early.