Verification of security and privacy in modern communication protocols

Communication is changing, with new paradigms being introduced by emerging ICT such as the fifth generation networks (5G). Therefore, new aspects and threats stemming from this need to be incorporated in techniques and tools for the formal verification of security and privacy. 

Three years
Application deadline
Funding information

A stipend of £16,000 per annum, tax-free, subject to nationality and residence status. Fees are covered for UK/EU students.


The student will join a team of researchers at Surrey University’s Centre for Cyber Security (SCCS), supervised by Dr Ioana Boureanu, in collaboration with Prof. Steve Schneider. Their research interests include verification and provable security applied to a broad range of secure systems, ranging from established cryptographic protocols to emerging ones, like those in the sphere of 5G. Particular efforts will be put towards developing new, formal threat-models for such emerging ICT.

This project focuses on the theory and practice of formal verification of systems’ security and privacy through model checking and theorem proving.

Previous experience in formal methods and/or security is not essential, but evidence of previous work in one of these fields is desirable.

If you have interests in any of these topics, but not in all, we encourage you to contact us for an informal discussion.

Eligibility criteria


  • Bachelor degree in Computer Science (UK equivalent 2:1 classification or above)
  • Interest in verification techniques (e.g. formal methods/analysis) and/or in security and privacy
  • Programming experience (any language)
  • Analytical skills: knowledge of foundations of computer science (e.g., discrete mathematics); 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.


  • Masters degree (UK equivalent of Merit classification or above)
  • Experience in Boolean and/or first order logic
  • Experience in formal verification (model checking, theorem proving or SMT solving)
  • Experience of implementation and/or experimentation with verification tools
  • Knowledge of cryptography and/or information security
  • Proficiency in C++ and/or Java
  • Experience with a functional programming language (e.g., Haskell, Ocaml).

How to apply

To apply for this studentship, apply via the Computer Science PhD course page. In your application, you must mention this studentship in order to be considered.

Please submit your CV (preferably no longer than two pages), two letters of recommendation or the contact information of two referees, copies of degree certificates and transcripts from all university-level courses taken.

Please also upload a cover letter, explaining your interests, computer-science and research experience (including examples of previous project work).

Closing date

The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.


Interviews will be conducted either in person at the University of Surrey (Guildford, UK) or via Skype.

Please note that we can only guarantee to contact the shortlisted candidates.

Computer Science PhD

Contact details

Ioana Boureanu (Carlson)
09 BB 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683425

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.