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PhD studentship in Trustworthy Autonomous Systems

   Department of Informatics

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  Prof Luca Viganò  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully funded 3.5-year PhD position is available to work with Professor Luca Viganò (Department of Informatics, King’s College London) connected to the research aims and priorities of the UKRI funded ‘UK TAS-Hub’ project (


Formal explainability of security and privacy decisions of autonomous systems

Autonomous Systems (ASs) routinely make decisions on how to act. The ASs make these decisions independently but informed by the interactions that they have with their environment, which can be seen as a multi-agent system that comprises ASs, semi-autonomous systems and human users. For a user to trust the decisions taken by an AS, it is necessary that the AS is able to explain its decisions in a rigorous but understandable way. This is particularly challenging in the case of decisions that pertain to the security and privacy of the multi-agent environment, as security and privacy might conflict with each other and with other goals of the environment. The aim of this project is to apply formal methods (e.g., based on temporal logic and logics of knowledge and belief) to explain, in a formal and automated way, the security and privacy decisions of autonomous systems, and ensure that these decisions are explained to all stakeholders maintaining the required level of rigour. Since the research will need to explicitly the socio-economical aspects of the decisions and their explanations, the project will include multidisciplinary investigations carried out in collaboration with a co-supervisor from the King’s Business School.


This project align with all three grand challenges of the UK TAS-Hub: (1) To ensure TAS improve rather than harm our physical and mental wellbeing (as security and privacy will need to go hand in hand with safety), (2) To ensure TAS safeguard rather than undermine our personal freedoms (as these freedoms are explicitly part of the security and privacy questions), (3) To ensure TAS benefit rather than damage our society and the economy (as security and privacy are cornerstones of our society and economy)

The applicant will have access to additional training and networking events through the TAS Doctoral Training Network. The UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub is a collaboration of researchers and industry partners working on world-leading best practices for trustworthy and trusted ‘socially beneficial’ autonomous systems. The Network offers PhD students opportunities to share their research with different audiences, to participate in research projects and to engage with academic staff and industry partners. Activities include seminars, workshops, summer school sessions and student conferences.

Candidate profile

Applicants will normally be expected to have a Distinction in an MSc or MSci in Computer Science or a related discipline, or an outstanding First-Class BSc qualification, but all applications will be considered on merit as appropriate to the individual case. Applications from individuals with non-standard backgrounds are encouraged, as are applications from women, disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, who are currently under-represented in the sector.


Funding is available for 3.5 years and includes a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI rate, full time (UK) PhD tuition fees, and an allowance for research consumables, additional training, conference attendance, etc.

Eligibility is based on residency rather than nationality. Only UK residents are eligible for a full studentship.

Application Information

Early applications are encouraged. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisor (Professor Luca Viganò ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss their interest.

Formal applications should include a short (1-2 page) research proposal based on the above project brief. Anyone making a formal application is advised also to inform the lead academic that they are doing so.

Application Procedure

To be considered for the position candidates must apply via King’s Apply online application system. Details are available at

Please indicate the supervisor and quote 'PhD studentship in Trustworthy Autonomous Systems' in your application and all correspondence.

The selection process will involve a pre-selection on documents and, if selected, will be followed by an invitation to an interview. If successful at the interview, an offer will be provided in due time.

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