Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence for Cyber Security

Funded PhD Studentship

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is generally considered as a double-edged sword by the cybersecurity community. It can be applied to boost the development of solutions to many cybersecurity problems, but simultaneously it could become a weapon in the adversarial hands, or become untrusted due to its black-box nature.

The potential PhD project aims to develop accountable, transparent and trustworthy AI systems to provide an intelligent defence that protects critical systems, IoT systems and cyber-physical systems from cyber attacks. For these purposes, two specific directions are proposed:

  • Adversarial machine learning for cyber security.

Attackers can sabotage ML techniques that are deployed against them by contaminating the training data, or exploit weaknesses of ML algorithms, in order to deceive ML classifiers or mislead ML-based decision making. The resilience of these ML algorithms thus becomes extremely critical to build trustworthy AI solutions for cybersecurity.

  • Explainable AI for cyber security

Many cybersecurity challenges now can be tackled by using the power of AI, from automatic identification of malware to intelligent defence systems combating ever-changing cyberattacks. However, many cybersecurity companies find it difficult to trust AI solutions and leave protection in the hands of a mysterious black box. This concern becomes more serious when it comes to protecting critical systems because even a small mistake could lead to significant damage. This direction aims to develop accountable and transparent AI-enhanced cybersecurity solutions.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly motivated person with a keen interest in research. You will require a background in computer science/AI and/or cybersecurity, with a working knowledge of writing code to manipulate and model data.

The successful candidate will closely work with our industrial partners from Airbus, Thales, Siemens, and government partners from NSCS/GCHQ. The main application domains will be cybersecurity across Industrial Control Systems(ICS), IoT systems, Cyber-Physical Systems and Automotive security.

Supervisory Team:


Please contact Dr Tingting Li [Email] with your C.V. , transcripts and 2-page Research Proposal. A suggested structure for the proposal is below

  • The scope of your project (i.e. what are the research questions and problems?)

  • The current state of the art (i.e. summarise the existing literature that has been published on your chosen research topic)

  • Current limitations (i.e. identify the “gaps” in existing literature in relation to the scope of your project)

  • Proposed methods (i.e. what computational or modelling methods will you use to tackle the current limitations and develop new knowledge?)

  • Anticipated contribution to Computer Science (i.e. what will we know after your PhD that we do not know now?)


The studentship is open to all nationalities (UK/EU/Overseas). Please note for overseas students you need to seek other funding or self-funding to cover the difference of the tuition fee between UK/EU and overseas levels.

Entry Requirements

A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master’s degree, in computing or a related subject. Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate their proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component. Please read our [English language requirements] for more details.


Deadline for submission of CV and cover letter to supervisors: 20 March 2020

Deadline for full online application (may be extended if necessary): 31 March 2020

Apply now: [] In the funding field of your application, indicate “I am applying for School funded studentship”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.

Funding Notes

This PhD Studentship provides tuition fees at UK/EU levels and a maintenance stipend (£15,609 p.a., 2021/22 rate). The Studentship is funded by the Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics for 3 years full-time study. Please note for overseas students, you will be expected to name the source of your funding or confirm you are self-funding to cover the difference between the tuition fee at UK/EU (£4,407 p.a. 2020/21 rate) and at overseas levels (£21,950 p.a., 2020/21 rate).