PhD in Data Safety Engineering

In 2015/16 I plan to recruit a new PhD candidate in the field of System Safety Engineering. In particular I wish to look at the contribution of data and “Big Data” to product and service safety for Computer Control Systems and Safety Related Information Systems. The work would address an aspect of how to address data used as part of the architecture or operation of a system. If you have strong skills in Systems Engineering, analysis or assessment of information systems, data, “big data” and metadata aspects of information systems and you would like to join a world-class research group, please read on.

What is Data Safety?


Systems Engineering and Safety-Critical Engineering are employed in the development and operation of systems which can cause harm if they fail. These systems make extensive use of computer based control systems and safety related information systems.


The organisations that employ these systems are going data-centric; that is they are organising the way they work to be led by data on the state of the system. Workers are using information systems to help them make decisions, and to help them undertake their procedures, the way a piece of technology works is being determined by the calibration and environmental data it receives. 


More and more authority for the way the system acts is being given over to these systems. The way the system behaves is partly determined by data. Unfortunately, current methods, practices and standards do not explicitly address the contribution of data to ensuring or assuring systems safety. There are many significant questions to address in this newly emerging field. 


Who will I be working with and where will I be located?

A view of the new Computer Science building with sign

You will be working with a world-class team of researchers in the field of System Safety Engineering. In 2014, the Department of Computer Science ranked joint 7th with Oxford (among 89 CS departments in the country) for the quality of our research. Our HISE research group is one of the largest research groups in System Safety in the world. It has a track record of extensive collaboration with industry.


The HISE research group is located in the Computer Science Department, a purpose-built building in the city of York, one of the most historic, picturesque and safe cities in the United Kingdom. The Department hosts several world-class research groups and a growing number of startups.

Dr Mark Nicholson has over twenty years experience in industrially relevant research and teaching. He is currently involved in looking at Data Safety Issues in the Aerospace, railway and maritime domains. He is a member of the UK Safety Critical Systems Club working group on data safety.



What is the typical duration of a PhD in the group?

The typical duration of a PhD is 3-4 years. Being in a world-leading position in the field of High Integrity Systems Engineering means that we will be able to help you select a cutting edge topic for your PhD project so that you can engage in meaningful research from the first year of the programme.

Are there any scholarships available?

Please have a look at this page for information regarding available scholarships/funding. Depending on your qualifications and the competition, the Department of Computer Science may be able to offer a tuition fee waiver.


For More details please contact

Dr Mark Nicholson

CSE/134 Computer Science Department

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325568