HOR-INTERN-2020-01-Securing the Smart Home: The Game.

HOR-INTERN-2020-01-Securing the Smart Home: The Game.

To apply, please complete the Internships Application Form.

Closing date

Applications must be made before 30th April 2020 and are assessed on an ongoing basis.


Primarily based at Nottingham (but with trips to Edinburgh) reporting to Dr Lachlan Urquhart (Edinburgh) and Dr Jiahong Chen (Horizon), this programme is administered by Horizon at the University of Nottingham as part of the EPSRC DADA project (EP/R03351X/1) involving Cambridge, Edinburgh and Imperial as well as Nottingham.

Proposed dates

Internships run for up to 12 weeks and are available for successful candidates to start anytime. Please indicate your availability on the application form, where requested.


As part of the DADA work stream on governance by design, we are building a physical board game that is focused on improving cybersecurity in smart homes. This exciting new tool will support awareness building and enable creation of strategies to improve the state of internet of things device security. This tool will gamify the process of threat modelling and develop a novel medium to support cybersecurity skills building for players.

This sits against the wider backdrop of research into ‘serious games’ that aim to make knowledge acquisition and development more playful, whilst retaining a ‘serious goal’. It also aligns with emerging policy aspirations from the UK government around ensuring devices are to be secure by design. This game could be one tool to support such ambitions.

We will develop an appealing aesthetic/theme for the game alongside exploring how to create a rewarding game mechanic and experience. Beyond these two key focal points in this project, we also want to ensure it is engaging for different levels of skill, from cybersecurity professionals creating these systems to individuals who may be operating them in their home.

The aim of this post for the successful candidate is to iteratively develop a series of prototypes that will shape and inform the final game design. By the end of the 12 weeks, we need to have created a high fidelity prototype from this process. The project will document the iterative design process, led by user engagement and testing of different iterations of the game. We will seek to learn lessons about the ‘serious game’ design process, in addition to creating this novel tool.

Who should apply?

An applicant with a background in HCI would be ideal, particularly familiarity with user experience design, qualitative research and graphic design. Thus, applicants will ideally will have a degree in human computer interaction and/or design. Equivalent professional experience will also be considered.

Applicants must outline their area of interest, experience and skills. Information regarding Horizon, DADA and the two project leads Dr Urquhart and Dr Chen may be found at http://www.horizon.ac.uk/, https://www.horizon.ac.uk/project/defence-against-dark-artefacts/ , https://www.law.ed.ac.uk/people/dr-lachlan-d-urquhart and https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/computerscience/people/jiahong.chen

Required skills

  • Graphic design skills to create prototype game artefacts and materials including the rule book, board, cards etc.

  • Game design knowledge to support the creation of game mechanics.

  • Familiarity with iterative design processes and testing of prototypes.

  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a small team (with a management team split between Nottingham and Edinburgh).

  • Writing skills to create game materials and to support writing of academic publications (e.g. CHI Play, DIGRA etc).

 Desirable skills

  • Experience building board or computer games before.

  • Interest in cybersecurity and the internet of things.

Eligibility and Financial Aspects

These are full-time internships for up to 12 weeks, for postgraduate and undergraduate students, a casual wage of £425 per week will be available, and this may be subject to tax deductions depending on the successful candidate’s circumstances and stipend stipulations.

In general, PhD students from The University of Nottingham are able to apply on the understanding they suspend their stipend, this is due to the nature of the funding source. For International students a Visa must be in place, covering the duration of the internship.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries may be made to Lachlan.urquhart@ed.ac.uk or Jiahong.chen@nottingham.ac.uk however applications should be made using the following web link. Applications to this email address will not be accepted.

To apply, please complete the Internships Application Form.