It’s that time of year again, where I put together a post telling anyone who is interested why doing a PhD in information security with a grounding in qualitative social science, particularly ethnography, is super cool. This year is no different, but let me start with the practical stuff.

We are currently accepting applications to Royal Holloway’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Cyber Security for the Everyday. We have 10 fully funded PhD positions that are all related to information security, in the broadest understanding of the term. This includes research grounded in the social sciences. For information about the research carried out by past and current CDT students - as well as details about the CDT programme - check out the CDT website.

The CDT is hosted in the Information Security Group and the research we do also spans a range of areas in information security. In September 2022, some of us established the Ethnography Group as a home for those of us working at the intersections of information security and ethnography, focusing in particular on the security notions held among populations with no institutional representation and under-represented in information security research. Information about individual members and their research interests can be found here.

Here are two sample projects, loosely defined and in no way prescriptive - but pretty cool if I may say so myself:

More broadly, social science work in the department is grounded in the social foundations of information security. Drawing on social science disciplines it grounds technology and security notions, questions and approaches in the social environments of individuals, groups, communities. It employs interpretive approaches to study the underlying social processes, structures and relations to interrogate the assumptions of security technology practice and design, using exploratory and participatory methods of inquiry. Personally, I am lucky to be working with some amazing CDT students with backgrounds in a broad range of social science disciplines, some of whom I co-supervise with colleagues in other departments.

While most of the PhD positions are reserved for UK residents, we can award three studentships without any such constraints, i.e. to international applicants. The studentships include tuition fees and maintenance (£23,668 for each academic year).

Feel free to get in touch if you have questions and check out the CDT website for more information and how to apply.