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The University of New South Wales

Students in Trustworthy Systems

Students are an integral part of the Trustworthy Systems Group: They contribute to research at various levels, gain highly sought-after skills in systems, formal methods and security, and produce code and proofs that end up protecting real-world systems. If this appeals to you, and you like the idea of being part of a highly-diverse, high-impact and fun team, then read on.

Research Training

The time normally available in the Australian university system for obtaining a PhD (four years of undergraduate studies followed by 3–3.5 years of postgraduate study and research) is too short to produce top-quality systems PhDs (the average duration of a systems PhD in the US is 6 years). The situation is only marginally better in formal methods, particularly the kind of proof-engineering we do. In TS we are addressing this challenge through a number of strategies:

  • giving graduates a head-start by putting them through an intense buildup consisting of world-class courses, summer internships and challenging honours theses where they work on real research projects with researchers in the group;
  • strongly encouraging graduates to gain a few years of further relevant experience and maturity prior to commencing a PhD. This can be obtained by employment in TS, by doing a Master's degree in the area, or by relevant industrial experience;
  • strongly encouraging PhD students to take internships in top industrial or public-sector research labs, or companies doing cutting-edge systems development;
  • ensuring as far as possible that PhD students work on a project that has enough critical mass, expertise and international links to make success likely in the time given, and support this by a rigorous yet constructive review process;
  • encouraging a culture of colleagiality, collaboration and hard work.

Information for prospective PhD students


PhD students are strongly recommended to do an internship of between three and twelve months duration at a top R&D institution. This can either happen between completing their undergraduate degree and commencing PhD studies, or by taking course leave during their PhD.

Past placements included IBM Research (Watson), Microsoft Research, Intel Research, HP, Apple, and a number of leading universities. Internship offers exist from other leading companies and universities.

We also provide a limited number of incoming internships. These are specifically meant for evaluating potential PhD students. Applicants are expected to have a strong systems or formal methods background (significantly beyond standard university coursework) as well as a strong academic track record. Please check the information for prospective PhD students.

Projects for Undergraduate Students

Honours Theses

We provide an extensive and frequently-updated list of thesis projects. Most of them expect a strong grounding in systems, as provided by our advanced-level coursework. In average one honours thesis per year leads to a publication.

Summer Internships

We strongly encourage the top performers in systems coursework to take one or two summer internships in the group, in order to deepen their experience with large systems, gain the first taste of research, and get better preparation for a successful honours thesis. Summer projects are similar to thesis projects, but often with more of a development than research angle.

We also frequently host interns from top universities around the world.


We provide or contribute to a number of courses in the systems and formal-methods area, all aimed to provide strong insights and accompanied by significant practical components.