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Insider Risk and Personnel Security

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline:  27 May 2023 (non-UK residents), 31 August 2023 (UK residents)

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2023

For further details contact: study.ctpsr@coventry.ac.uk

Project details

The Institute for Peace and Security (IPS) is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for peace and security research, with more than 60 members of staff and approximately 50 PhD students.

The Institute provides a vibrant, inclusive, multi-disciplinary research environment in which PhD students from a wide range of backgrounds can undertake research that makes a significant contribution to addressing key global challenges.

Coventry University is investing significantly in research related to protective security, including the establishment of the Protective Security Lab (PSL), which is part of the Institute for Peace and Security and has its main accommodation in the university’s central London campus.

Some of the biggest and least well understood risks to the security of organisations and businesses arise from the actions of insiders - individuals who have been trusted with access but who betray that trust by causing harm. The field of personnel security is relatively immature in comparison with cyber security and physical security and many basic questions remain unanswered.

There is a need for more and better empirical evidence on a number of fundamental issues that could form the basis for a PhD project. They include:

  • Measuring insider risk and assessing the effectiveness of personnel security defences
  • Assessing the trustworthiness of individuals and trust within organisations
  • The use of automated systems to detect early warning signs of insider risk
  • The use of communications to deter insiders and improve organisational understanding of insider risk
  • Organisational and environmental influences on insider risk
  • The emerging problem of insider risks arising from intelligent machines and autonomous systems


Full tuition fees, stipend (£18,622 p/a), and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

  • A bachelor’s (honours) degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum classification of 2:1 and a minimum mark of 60% in the project element (or equivalent), or an equivalent award from an overseas institution.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • An adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by applicants whose first language is not English. The general requirement is a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the four sections, or the TOEFL iBT test with a minimum overall score of 95 with a minimum of 21 in each of the four sections.

For further details please visit:  https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/making-an-application/research-entry-criteria/

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact  study.ctpsr@coventry.ac.uk.

All applications require a covering letter and a 2000-word research proposal that should include details of the candidate’s planned approach to their topic and their ideas on research methodology. The covering letter should include how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the proposed project.  

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