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Oxford and Royal Holloway to train cyber security graduates

Issue date:
09 May 2013
Press release 
Photo of Dr Carlos Cid, David Willetts, David Delpy and Dr Andrew Martin

Two new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), that will provide the UK with the next generation of researchers and leaders in cyber security, are announced today by Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts.

The Centres, which will be based at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London, are jointly funded with a total of £7.5 million, with £2.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme and £5 million from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as part of its work in the National Cyber Security Programme.

David Willetts said: "Businesses are facing more cyber-attacks than ever before, putting their confidential information and intellectual property at risk. We must do everything we can to tackle this threat and make them less vulnerable. These new Centres will produce a new generation of cyber security specialists, able to use their skills and research expertise to improve cyber security and drive growth."

The Centres, selected following a call for proposals issued in July 2012, will draw on a wide range of expertise to provide multi-disciplinary PhD training. They will also engage with industry to ensure training reflects the complex and dynamic nature of cyber threats.

EPSRC's Chief Executive Professor David Delpy said: "Cyber security matters. It matters because the virtual world and the real world are conjoined and interdependent, from our hospitals to transport networks to the financial sector or our armed forces. Without the type of research being supported by EPSRC and our partners, the ability of individuals, businesses and our infrastructure to work effectively, productively and safely will be restricted and made vulnerable."

The training will comprise of a mixture of masters-level education in a range of subjects and a related challenging and original research project. Graduates will have the skills required to contribute research-derived expertise to business or government.

The University of Oxford CDT will focus on emerging technology themes and cover some of the most pressing cyber security challenges faced by society today including:

  • the security of 'Big Data'
  • cyber-physical security
  • effective systems verification and assurance
  • real-time security

Dr Andrew Martin who will lead the CDT at the University of Oxford said: "We have been building a wide inter-disciplinary collaboration to address the challenges of cyber security. The CDT team will not draw from just the technical perspective, but also disciplines such as social science, business, and strategic studies. Mixing these with practitioner experiences from business and government, the students will gain a unique insight into the context of their work, and undertake research that makes a real, long-lasting contribution."

Dr Carlos Cid, who will lead the CDT at Royal Holloway, University of London said:

"We are obviously delighted that our bid to host one of the Centres for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security was successful. One of the goals of the CDT is to contribute to the pool of UK-based doctoral-level cyber security experts, and we are aiming to recruit and train some of the most promising students to work in this field. We are looking forward to working with our industrial and academic partners to deliver training and research of the highest quality to the CDT students."

The Royal Holloway CDT will focus on problems faced by businesses and government such as:

  • provably-secure cryptographic systems and protocols
  • security of telecommunication networks and critical infrastructure
  • trusted and trustworthy platforms
  • organisational processes and socio-technical systems

Doctoral training will last four years and, between them, both centres will produce at least 66 PhD graduates over the next seven years. The first cohorts of students are expected to start studying this autumn.

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Notes to Editors:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme

The RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme brings together the activities of the UK Research Councils in response to global security challenges: poverty (including the effects of inequality & injustice), conflict, transnational crime, environmental stress and terrorism. The programme will help governments, businesses and societies to better predict, detect, prevent and mitigate threats to security.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) leads on the Cyber security strand of the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme.

The University of Oxford's Cyber Security Centre

The University of Oxford's Cyber Security Centre has been established to bring together experts from a number of disciplines in Oxford and the wider world to address the cyber security challenges of the 21st century. It embraces challenge in technical difficulty and in new and potentially disruptive ideas, welcomes new contributors to the domain, and will facilitate creativity. The Centre will drive major developments in the theory and practice of cyber security and aims to help in the creation of a safe, secure and prosperous cyberspace through internationally leading research and educational programmes.

The Information Security Group (ISG) at Royal Holloway, University of London

The Information Security Group (ISG) at Royal Holloway, University of London, is a world-leading interdisciplinary research group dedicated to research and education in the area of information (cyber) security.

The ISG contains more than fifteen full-time academic faculty members, including a mixture of computer scientists, mathematicians and social scientists. These are supported by several research assistants and a large number of research students, making the ISG one of the largest academic information security teams in the world.

The ISG was formed in 1990 with the intent of providing an academic institution which understood and collaborated with government and industry in the area of information security.

Reference: PN31/13