Funded PhD Opportunity BTIIC-09: Securing Self-Organising IOT Ecosystems

This opportunity is now closed.

This project is funded by: BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) Invest NI

Subject: Computer Science and Informatics


BT Ireland Innovation Centre:

This studentship is one of twelve such PhD studentships, offered in collaboration with British Telecom and tenable in the School of Computing, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Ulster University based at the Jordanstown campus. The studentships relate to different research topics in future telecommunication networks and services with a particular emphasis on Intelligent Systems, Future Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Cyber Security, Fixed and Mobile Network Services. They are part of the recently funded BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) which is a collaborative project between BT and Ulster University, with a large presence in BT Belfast. BTIIC is an ambitious research and engineering project, initially running for 5 years, and funded by Invest Northern Ireland. It comprises two Research Workstreams: (i) Intelligent Systems, and (ii) IoT – Trust, Security and Dependability. The research topics proposed for the 12 studentships are in these broad areas.

Project summary:

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be considered as a network equipped with sensing and processing devices. These devices are connected and exchange data through the Internet. It is becoming important to ensure the security of IoT, including privacy, secure data sharing, data protection, and secure data portability among others. An IoT system can consist of various types of devices, which may use different communication protocols. The purpose of this project is to explore new technologies and their potential application to IoT Security.

Blockchains are a specific example of this. Blockchain technology underpins the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but also has other applications. A Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger, i.e. a means of maintaining an authoritative record of a sequence of transactions. A centralised ledger, managed, say by a trusted third party, has the advantage of consistency, but will act as a bottle-neck, adding latency. It may also put clients that are further away at a disadvantage. On the other hand, if multiple copies of a ledger are distributed around a network, latency is improved, but there are problems in keeping the copies consistent.

The Blockchain method provides a solution to this problem of maintaining consistency and in creation of digital transactional communities. The large number of devices involved in IoT applications and the dynamic nature of their relationships results in a number of problems requiring decentralised decision-making/action combined with global co-ordination for which BlockChain-style distributed ledgers may provide a solution. An example is the application of Distributed Ledger technology (DLT) to monitor the state and integrity of IoT device software for illicit changes, and assure that data transmitted from systems that use IoT technologies has not been tampered with.

Additional Application Information:

On the application form applicants should select one main BTIIC project and a maximum of two further project titles in which they are interested. During the lifetime of the project there will be opportunities to work with BT Belfast Global Development Centre and there also may be openings to spend a period of time as part of a related Internship at BT Adastral Park Research Laboratories in Martlesham, Suffolk, UK (see (  Arrangements for the internship / visits will be made by the supervisory team of the PhD project in conjunction with BT, subject to satisfactory student academic performance on the project.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%


This project is funded by: BT Ireland Innovation Centre (BTIIC) Invest NI

The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of not less than £14,553 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

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Adrian Johnston - PhD in Informatics

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 7 May 2018
Interview Date
May 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Zhiwei Lin

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #242425 when applying for this PhD opportunity