Skip to main content

Our PhD programmes

Our PhD programmes

PhD in Information Security

The Information Security Group runs a popular full-time and part-time PhD research programme on a wide variety of information security-related topics. The ISG has supervised hundreds of PhD students in its history, many now holding influential positions within the cyber security industry. We are looking for enthusiastic, inquisitive, and dedicated individuals who have the potential to contribute to the growing and diverse field of information security as applied inside and outside of academia. Our research actively contributes to industry, policy, and the development of secure products.

Enquiries: Dr Elizabeth Quaglia,, Information Security Group PGR Lead

All PhD students are assigned at least one named supervisor and an advisor. The supervisor directs the work and acts as the first line of research, administrative, and welfare support. The role of the advisor varies, but in all cases the advisor provides a second line of support.

The PhD programme is research-based with substantial research and study, both independently and in close coordination with the supervisor. All PhD students are expected to regularly meet with the supervisor and take part in training as part of researcher development. PhD students in the Information Security Group regularly attend relevant seminar series, workshops, and study groups. This involves discussing and presenting work to other students and staff. Where appropriate, students will be expected to attend or present work at seminars, workshops or research meetings off the campus based just outside London in scenic Egham, including at international research conferences.

Full-time Study: Three- to four-year course equivalent in commitment to a full-time job. This is the most common mode of pursuing a PhD. Full-time students in their first three years of study are guaranteed desk space and computer facilities in the department and are expected to contribute fully to the departmental research community.

Part-time Study: Four- to seven-year course for committed students who wish to study their PhD alongside a full-time job, caring responsibilities, or similar commitments. Part-time study is the default mode for students working for more than fifteen hours per week or with caring responsibilities which preclude full-time study. Part-time students are expected to attend Royal Holloway’s campus at some points and to have regular meetings with their supervisor (either in person or online).

Once the research has been successfully completed the student must write and submit a final report in the form of a PhD research thesis. This will be evaluated by at least two experts (one internal to Royal Holloway, and one external) and the student will be invited to attend an oral examination where they must defend their thesis.

The minimum entry requirement for an MPhil or an MPhil leading to a PhD degree is the equivalent of a UK Second Class Honours degree in an appropriate subject, although in many cases a Master's level qualification will also be expected. Candidates must also be demonstrably proficient in English to write and communicate about their research adequately and confidently.

It is extremely important to ensure that there are sufficient funds (both to cover fees and living costs) to complete a PhD programme. Click here for current fees for our PhD programme. It may be that some overseas students seek funding from organisations outside of the UK.

Obtaining funding can be extremely difficult and so potential candidates are advised to actively explore all available opportunities to secure funds. Click here to see current funding opportunities. Please note that any departmentally administered scholarships for admission to the PhD in Information Security will be advertised in the ‘Scholarships’ section.


As part of a consortium of six universities – the South East Doctoral Training Arc (SEDarc)- we are accepting applications for PhD scholarships that focus on the social science of cyber security. For information on deadlines for application to this scholarship opportunity, please click on the above link.

To apply to our PhD programme, there are a series of steps which you must follow that are outlined below. Please be aware that if you are applying from overseas, certain countries may be subject to extra checks in addition to any visa applications, so please apply as soon as possible (and ideally 6 months before your start date).

Step 1

Write down an initial research idea. At a minimum, this should include 1) a research title, 2) a short research abstract (of no more than 300 words) describing your research idea, and 3) a short proposed methodology. You are also welcome to propose more developed research projects (as expected in Step 3).

Step 2

Take a look at the research profiles of staff members in the Information Security Group, click here to find their profiles. All PhD positions (whether self-funded or not) may be applied for only after consultation with a proposed supervisor. Before you start working on an application you will need to identify a supervisor by contacting a member of academic staff in the Information Security Group (with research interests similar to yours) to discuss your proposal. If you find a member of academic staff who is prepared to supervise you, then they will be able to answer any questions that you have and help you with your application. If you need help finding a member of staff to work with, you can contact the ISG’s PGR lead, Dr Elizabeth Quaglia.

Step 3

If a supervisor supports your application, you should make a formal application (click here for more information). In your application, please name the proposed supervisor. As part of the application, you are expected to provide:

  • Research Proposal: No longer than 2500 words, including the title, abstract, research background (including relevant literature and research questions), a methods section stating how you will investigate the topic, and a timeline for the planned research to be completed within three years (or six years if part-time).
  • Personal Statement: No longer than 500 words, stating your reasons for applying to the PhD, how your skills and knowledge will help you succeed.

This is in addition to an up-to-date CV, degree transcripts, English language qualifications, and contact details for two references.

Step 4

This application will be reviewed by both the proposed supervisor and the PGR Lead to ensure that you meet our minimum entry requirements. If you meet our minimum requirements, you will be invited to an interview. The interview panel will consist of the supervisor and at least one independent member of academic staff in the Information Security Group.

Step 5

If you are successful, the PGR Lead will inform Royal Holloway of our decision and you will be contacted by central administration for any further information required. If you are unsuccessful, we can offer brief comments on the reason for not progressing your application.

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones.

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start.

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help.

Discover more about our academic departments and schools.

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway.

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future.

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today.

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable.

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today.