Project code



School of Computing

Start dates

October, February and April

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Computing and will be supervised by Dr Benjamin Aziz.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Research in formal methods and models of smart energy systems
  • Use  and possible development of software tools related to formal specifications
  • Carry out a case study at an industrial level

Modern day renewable and smart energy systems are increasingly playing an important role in our societies.  Electric vehicle charging services infrastructures, for example, are becoming ever more popular and accessible, although at a pace that we argue is not well understood yet in terms of the reliability and security of this new paradigm.  Often solutions are rolled out to the market with little or no analysis of their resilience and even at the standards level, specifications of systems and protocol often omit or skim over the question of reliability.  However, like any other critical infrastructure, the resilience of smart energy infrastructures remains at the forefront of the challenges facing adoption of the new technologies. 

Mutation testing and analysis is concerned with the concept of introducing small single faults or errors into a system's design, specification, implementation or interface and then testing or analysing the effects caused by those faults or errors.  It has been used as a technique for evaluating the quality of test suites, as the more faults the tests can spot, the better the quality of those tests.  Mutating systems simulate real world scenarios, where behaviour of the system is not well-defined or well-implemented, and its communicated messages can be subject to unexpected alterations either by the physical nature of the communication medium or by some intended or unintended interference from users or other systems, for example, due to actions carried out by malicious external intruders.

This project will develop a formal analysis and testing framework for investigating the effects of faults introduced at the specification level of critical systems.  This framework will comprise a sound theory of mutation analysis, the validation of that theory in terms of a workable demonstration and an application to a case study, preferably in the domain of smart energy systems.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in computing or computing-related topics such as engineering or mathematics. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.  English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You should have some appreciation of formal specification and analysis methods, and their role in industry.

How to apply

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Computing PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.