UCL News


UCL unveils unique security 'SECReT'

4 August 2009


Fingerprint ucl.ac.uk/secret/" target="_self">UCL SECReT
  • UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • UCL is recruiting students for the inaugural year of a unique PhD in security science.

    Students will study at the university's new £17m Security Research Training Centre - or UCL SECReT.

    UCL SECReT is one of the university's nine doctoral training centres funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC).

    The multidisciplinary centre is recruiting between 10 and 20 students each year for the next five years. The students will complete a four-year programme, working together in groups from different academic backgrounds.

    The students that will form the first cohort will have backgrounds in computer science, chemistry, engineering, psychology, mathematical sciences, physics geography, and some life and social sciences.

    The first year of the PhD will take the form of taught modules and research skills training as students learn how their existing expertise can be brought to bear on security-related problems. The following three years are spent working on a specific project in a host department at UCL.

    Students will study a wide range of subjects including information technology; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive mitigation; human perception and behaviour; intelligence techniques in computer science; and soil forensics.

    Deputy Director Dr Hervé Borrion (UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science) said the programme was designed to prepare the next generation of security and crime science academics, but some graduates would also move to industry where they will transfer their knowledge and skills directly.

    Dr Borrion said: "This is the only course of its type in Europe. The whole idea is that you can't have a security solution when you only consider one aspect of a problem.

    "For example, if you look at airport security, it's a very complex environment where you need to take into account not only the physical structure of the buildings but also the people and processes that allow the airport to operate.

    "We want our students to build partnerships with external organisations in those environments so they can arrive at a more holistic understanding of security and develop new methods to reduce risk."

    The course has heavyweight partners in government and industry including the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the NHS, and BAE Systems, Thales and Lockheed Martin.

    It also has strong links with some of the leading security research centres  at Cranfield University (Defence College of Management and Technology), Tsinghua University in  Beijing, Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US, and the Australian National University.

    UCL is starting to become a centre of expertise for security and crime science, attracting visiting speakers such as Professor Jimmy Oxley, co-director of the new US Department for Homeland Security's Centre of Excellence in Explosives Detection.

    Follow the link above to find out more about UCL SECReT and available scholarships for conducting PhD research.

    Image: a fingerprint.


    UCL context

    In December 2008 UCL won funding for seven new centres for doctoral training (CDTs). In addition, UCL's doctoral centre at the Life Sciences Interface - CoMPLEX - was renewed last year. This gives UCL a total of nine CDTs created to 'generate the scientists needed for Britain's future'. Each centre will receive around £6m in funding to pay for a total of nearly 400 students to take part in four-year doctorate programmes over the next five years.

    Related stories:
    Ninth EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training funded
    UCL wins £40m EPSRC grant for seven new Centres for Doctoral Training