Security Science MRes + MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

This PhD programme at UCL SECReT - the Security Science Doctoral Training Centre - benefits from the reputation of UCL Security & Crime Science, widely recognised for its research impact on real-world crime problems. Consequently we have long-established links with the police forces, policymakers, academic research centres of excellence and security organisations worldwide.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 30 Jun 2022

Applications closed

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Candidates with a UK Master’s in a science-based subject, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard are encouraged to apply.

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Security and Crime Science (SCS) uses evidence-based techniques to prevent and control crime and security problems, and to detect offenders. SCS is devoted to reducing crime and terrorism through teaching, research and public policy analysis. The department has strong links with security practitioners and policymakers as well as researchers and institutions worldwide. It is multidisciplined in its approach and draws on both the social and physical sciences. We focus strongly on providing interactive classrooms where a mix of practitioners and new students keen to work in these fields can learn from each other.

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

The four-year PhD programme at UCL SECReT is a well established programme that draws in students from around the world who have gone on to exciting careers in security and crime sectors. It is the first programme to combine a multidisciplinary crime or security doctoral degree with a programme of taught modules (focusing on the application of scientific method to crime reduction) and professional skills training. Our aim is to produce a new generation of crime and security practitioners with the skills to tackle modern and evolving crime threats. With over 60 partners in industry and the public sector and some of the world's leading academics at UCL working in these areas we provide excellent supervision and career prospects.

Collaborative working is an important aspect of this multidisciplinary programme, and UCL SECReT gives students the opportunity to mix with peers from backgrounds including architecture, computer science, statistics, electronic engineering, chemistry, forensic sciences, psychology, philosophy, ethics and laws.

The foundation of your career

Graduates of UCL SECReT are widely sought after. Of the first graduating cohort 82% found careers in the private and public security sector within six months of graduating. A similar success rate is evident in successive cohorts since then and we expect this trend to continue. Our students possess skills modern employers in these sectors are looking for such as: (i) how to work in multidisciplinary teams; (ii) how to apply their knowledge to practical interventions; (iii) how to engage with industry; (iv) a PhD from a world-renowned doctoral centre at one of the world's most highly ranked universities.


Graduates from UCL SECReT go on to careers in a wide range of areas including research posts in the private sector or in academic institutions, or positions in the public and private security industry sectors.


UCL SECReT is widely recognised for its knowledge transfer activities, and the impact that its research has had on real-world crime problems. Consequently we have long-established links with over 60 partners from police forces, policy makers, academic research centres of excellence and security organisations from both the UK and further afield. We bring our doctoral students into contact with these partners through an Industry Evening, a seminar series, annual conferences and an internship in year three of their PhD. This has resulted in nearly all students finding an industry partner to work with, to provide data, research expertise, access to labs and equipment, and career guidance.

Teaching and learning

Year One

  • Designing and doing research
  • Foundations of security and crime science
  • Horizon Scanning and the Changing Nature of Crime
  • Research project of up to 15,000 words
  • Two optional taught modules and one elective module chosen from the list below

Elective module (worth 15 credits) chosen from across UCL (examples are given below, but please bear in mind that any modules taught by other departments at UCL will be at the discretion of the department concerned and we cannot guarantee availability in advance).

Optional modules may include:

  • Applied Cryptography
  • Computer Security 1
  • Computer Security 2
  • Cybercrime
  • Information Security Management
  • Introduction to Cryptography
  • Introduction to Cybersecurity
  • People and Security
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Research in Information Security
  • Spatial-Temporal Data Analysis and Data Mining (STDM)
  • Statistical Models and Data Analysis
  • Introduction to cybersecurity
  • People in security
  • Quantitative methods
  • Research in information security
  • Spatial-temporal data analysis and data mining (STDM)
  • Statistical models and data analysis

Elective modules could include

  • Anthropology of politics, violence and crime Applied data science
  • Emergency and crisis planning
  • Introduction to machine learning
  • Perspectives on organised crime
  • Perspectives on terrorism

Years Two, Three and Four

  • Research years, ending with submission of PhD thesis and viva

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.


Research areas and structure

Our students conduct research across a wide range of areas covering four domains: crime and security analysis, design and technology, forensic science, and future crime. 

Crime and security analysis

  • Big data analysis
  • Ecological modelling
  • Scripting and process analysis
  • Geographical analysis
  • Social network analysis
  • Human error analysis

Design and technology

  • UAVs
  • Radar
  • Chemical sensors
  • X-ray scanners
  • Cyber
  • Ethics and technology

Forensic science

  • Forensic geoscience 
  • DNA
  • Fingerprints
  • Trace evidence dynamics
  • Forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology
  • Inference and interpretation 
  • Cognitive forensics 

Future crime

  • Applications e.g. drones, autonomous vehicles, non-GPS navigation, Blockchain, performance-enhancing prosthetics
  • Background changes e.g. climate change, mass migration, antimicrobial resistance, new finance/banking models, commodity scarcities
  • Generic technologies e.g. AI, robotics/nanobots, quantum computing, 3D printing, hyper-connectivity, smart materials, Internet of Things (IoT), wearable ICT

Research environment

The UCL Department of Security and Crime Science is widely recognised for the impact that its research has had on real-world crime problems. The department has a distinctly interdisciplinary outlook on the prevention of crime, terrorism and organised crime. Consequently we have long established links with police forces, policy makers, academic research centres of excellence, and security organisations from both the UK and further afield. The department has a successful track record of working closely with practitioners and is widely recognized for its knowledge transfer and exploitation activities, as well as the impact of its research on real world crime problems. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise, the Department’s impact activity was rated as 100% world leading, a score attained by only 0.02% of all assessed departments nationwide (n=7550). As a Security and Crime Science PhD student, you will have the opportunity to learn from, and contribute to, this research culture.

The Department attracts the leading figures in the field to our extensive programme of events which inform debates around crime prevention. Regular events include the annual International Crime Science conference, regular seminars and outside speakers. These events reflect the diversity of disciplinary inputs that inform Crime Science.

A PhD at Security Science allows you to pursue original research and make a distinct and significant contribution to your field. We are committed to the quality and relevance of the research supervision we offer and as an MPhil/PhD candidate; you could work with academics at the cutting edge of crime prevention scholarship. Furthermore as a research student, you will be an integral part of our collaborative and thriving research community. To foster your academic development we also offer additional departmental funds, which can assist you with the costs of conferences and other research activities.

The length of registration for the MRes is 1 year.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 3 years for full-time and 5 years for part-time.

This PhD programme is part of the department doctoral programme, it follows successful completion of the MRes Security Science and cannot be taken as a stand alone programme. You will be registered initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration.

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may register as a completing research student (CRS) while you write up your thesis. 

To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a piece of writing (this is usually a literature review of your topic plus one empirical chapter from your thesis and a chapter plan for the remainder). You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

The PhD programme is expected to be completed within three years for full-time students, and over five years for part-time students. If you are not ready to submit at the end of the third year, you may be allowed to transfer to CRS for a maximum period of one calendar year (full time) or two calendar years (part time).


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £5,690 £2,845
Tuition fees (2022/23) £26,500 £13,680

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

There are a number of scholarships for the UCL SECReT four-year MRes + MPhil/ PhD in Security Science paying UK/EU fees, and/or an annual stipend of £15,000-£17,000. See our website for details.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Value: Fees, maintenance and travel (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

The MRes/PhD in Security Science starts in September each year. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed below) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. Applicants must also consider whether the Department of Security and Crime Science has the relevant expertise available to offer sufficient supervision in their chosen area of research.Applicants are encouraged to identify two UCL academics to supervise their research before applying. Ideally applicants will have contacted them before applying to ensure supervisors are able to support the application. Following consideration of applications at the department's Graduate Research Committee, applicants may be requested to attend an interview with prospective supervisors (either in person or by telephone). For more information see our department website and the How to apply page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes in any application cycle.

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