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PhD in Formal Methods for Security and Concurrency

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate in the Systems Security Group at the Information Security Division, within the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, campus Gjøvik.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to obtaining a doctoral degree.

The topic is generally placed at the intersection between security and concurrency with applications to many modern systems included under the term concurrency, such as distributed and communicating systems, multi-core or high-performance computing, or more generally systems of systems. The main focus of the topic will be on formal methods and tools applied to novel problems stemming from the combinations of security and highly complex concurrent systems. Depending on the inclinations and skills of the applicant, the work can include theoretical investigations as well as development and improvement of existing methods and tools for solving verification challenges in such modern applications; but the work can also include modelling and verification of real-world protocols pertaining to, e.g., IoT, Smart Grids, or Smart Contrcts. Therefore, the research tasks can be anything from more theoretical, designing new formalisms and algorithms, to more practical, implementing modules, extensions, or new tools.

If the work will go in a more theoretical direction, the candidate can expect to look into formalisms such as process algebras and their methods such as bisimulations, or into concurrency models and the challenges these bring to security, or into more mathematical topics including logics, relational algebras, automata, etc. If the work will go in a more practical direction, the candidate can expect to work with security verification tools such as Isabelle or Tamarin.

You will report to the Head of Department.

Duties of the position

  • Work with formal tools such as Isabelle or Tamarin.
  • Develop formalisms/logics/algorithms for modelling and verification of security.
  • Apply formal methods to study novel problems at the intersection of security and modern concurrent systems.
  • Participate in teaching and supervision duties on topics related to the above.

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a technically relevant background in Mathematics or Computer Science, with an advantage given by background in Security or Concurrent systems.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master’s level.
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master’s degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education (e.g., having long practical experience in relevant fields).
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the PhD programme in Information Security and Communication Technology.
  • Good grades in topics close to Theoretical Computer Science or Mathematics

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • Both Mathematics and Computer Science count as suitable backgrounds due to the generality and inclusiveness of the topic focused on formal methods.
  • Background in Security and its applications is only secondary, because formal methods techniques is the more difficult part of the topic, whereas Security is the applications part.
  • Excellent written and oral English language skills should be documented either through tests or through already produced works.
  • Scandinavian language speakers have advantage due to their suitability for the teaching and supervision duties of the position.

Personal characteristics

  • Motivated for research with a curious character and inquisitive mind.
  • Hardworking and tenacious with a flair for detail and organization of knowledge.
  • Appreciative yet critical, always looking for the differences and similarities between concepts.
  • Good team and collaboration skills and appreciation for diversity of people and consideration for opposite views.
  • Optimism, objectiveness.

We offer

  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
  • an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Long-term stays abroad and collaboration opportunities with, e.g.: Gothenburg, Rennes, Sheffield, Warsaw, Luxembourg.
  • a large number of possible industrial collaborators to provide you research results with test scenarios and innovation opportunities
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years or 4 years including teaching duties.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Information Security within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above.

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas.
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. If you have not completed the master’s degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master’s thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master’s thesis. If you recently have submitted your master’s thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master’s degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Project proposal (or Letter of Interest) detailing why you fit for the position.
  • Research plan.
  • Name and address of three referees.
  •  If you have publications or other relevant research work.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor’s and master’s education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background.

The city of Gjøvik has a population of 30 000 and is a town known for its rich music and cultural life. The beautiful nature surrounding the city is ideal for an active outdoor life! The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Assoc.Prof. Christian Johansen, email or Prof. Basel Katt, email . If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Stine Terese Ruen Nymoen, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2021/40723 when applying.

Application deadline: 30.09.21.

NTNU – knowledge for a better world

NTNU – knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Information Security and Communication Technology

Research is vital to the security of our society. We teach and conduct research in cyber security, information security, communications networks and networked services. Our areas of expertise include biometrics, cyber defence, cryptography, digital forensics, security in e-health and welfare technology, intelligent transportation systems and malware. The Department of Information Security and Communication Technology is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

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