Intelligent transport systems

Intelligent Mobility aims to increase the safety and efficiency of transporting people and goods by utilizing advances in information and computer technology. 

Application deadline
Funding information

This is a three year studentship, covering UK/EU University fees only, with a stipend/living allowance of £16,000 per annum. UK/EU university fees are also covered by the studentship. 


As we develop ever more complex and integrated transport systems that must keep us safe on our journeys, we must ensure that computer systems and digital infrastructure are trusted to remain secure even in the presence of threat agents wishing to cause harm. Key to realising the benefits of intelligent transport systems is the standardisation of communication and security protocols between information and computer technology (ICT) components.

Formal verification, using a rigorous mathematical approach to confirm that a system satisfies specific requirements, is used to provide strong evidence of the correctness of safety and security critical systems. Security protocols, specified sequences of interactions between communicating processes to achieve certain security related goals, have been a particularly fruitful application area for formal verification; many security flaws and vulnerabilities have been identified using formal methods. 

In this project, the student will, in collaboration with supervisors and a growing team of researchers, investigate formally the correctness, security and privacy of novel communication protocols proposed for the interaction between various system components within intelligent transport systems. The project aims to identify weaknesses as the result of ambiguous, incomplete or inconsistent specifications and propose improvements to ensure the protocols satisfy their specified requirements. This will involve understanding and formalising the security properties of such protocols, understanding and formalising the behaviour of the protocol participants as specified in academic and industry standards, construction of appropriate threat models and the application of tools and techniques to conduct the subsequent formal verification.

The student will be co-supervised by Dr David M. Williams and Professor Steve Schneider. Their research interests include modelling and verification of security protocols, formal methods, transport systems security, secure electronic voting and blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

Eligibility criteria

Essential requirements:

  • Bachelors degree in computer science or a similar discipline (UK equivalent of a 2:1 classification or above)
  • An active interest in security and privacy and/or verification techniques (e.g., formal methods/analysis)
  • Some programming experience (any language)
  • An understanding of the foundations of computer science
  • A demonstrated ability to think independently 

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, both in plain English and scientific language for publication in relevant journals and presentation at conferences.

Desirable requirements:

  • Masters degree in a STEM discipline (UK equivalent of Merit classification or above)
  • Experience in formal verification (model checking, theorem proving or SMT solving)
  • Experience working with industry standards and protocol specifications
  • An understanding of cryptography and/or information security
  • Strong interpersonal skills with experience working in a collaborative research environment.

How to apply

Please apply through our Computer Science PhD. In your application, you must mention this studentship in order to be considered.

The application should include:

  • A curriculum vitae 
  • Degree certificates and transcripts
  • Names of two referees (ideally uploading two references at the time of application also) 
  • A cover letter explaining your interests, computer-science and research experience (including examples of previous project work). 

Computer Science PhD

Application deadline

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