Distributed Digital Twins in Smart Manufacturing for Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Detection


An exciting opportunity to apply for eight fully funded PhD positions in the College of Arts, Technology and Environment, UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2223-APR-CATE12

The expected start date of these studentships is 1 April 2023.

The closing date for applications is 8 January 2023.

Please note: out of the eight projects being advertised for the CATE Studentships 2022. The projects for funding will be selected based on the merit of applicants following the process outlined below.

Studentship details

The increasing use of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) as part of an interconnected Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) has made them a target for sophisticated Advanced Persistent Attacks (APTs) as evidenced by attacks such as Stuxnet and the recent Colonial Pipelines attacks.  This PhD research will explore the use of distributed Digital Twins (DTs) in improving CPS system security using the Siemens Festo Learning Factory platform. It involves the development of a DT testbed on which different countermeasures leveraging the following techniques will be evaluated:

  • Cyber Threat Intelligence;
  • Machine Learning;
  • Privacy-preserving Federated Learning

The successful candidate will work as a member of the UWEcyber and will be part of the Computer Science Research Centre (CSRC) 

The group is actively involved in research into a wide range of cybersecurity topics, ranging from Cloud and IoT security to containerisation and Digital Forensics. The research-informed approach to Cyber Security education has been acknowledged by the National Cyber Security Centre as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education (ACE-CSE).

The project is part of a larger research into different cybersecurity issues in Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities, to address the recent increase in targeted attacks. The successful candidate will work as part of his/her work on cutting-edge research into different cybersecurity threats and countermeasures, using latest state-of-art CPS systems such as the Siemens Festo Smart Manufacturing testbed. He/she will also get to collaborate with other departments including Engineering as well as the Bristol Robotics Lab.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Thomas Win.

You can also contact Professor Jessica Lamond or Dr Stephen Hall about the studentship programme.


The studentship is available from 01 April 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £17,668 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. 


Applicants must have knowledge or Experience of: Software development and prototyping using either Python or C; containerisation (e.g., Docker, LXC); Cyber Physical Systems (CPS)- and the associated cyberthreat landscape; threat monitoring and analysis.

Knowledge of Digital Twins and their applications; experience with ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) stack and knowledge of data science and deep learning are highly desirable.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-APR-CATE12.

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 08 January 2023.

Further Information

It is expected that interviews will take place on weeks commencing 20 February 2023. If you have not heard from us by February, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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