PhD Studentship: Reading Between the Lines: Using NLP to Understand Online Ideologies (BUCKLEYO_U23CMP)

University of East Anglia

As a society we have become increasingly reliant on the internet, driven in part by an increasing appetite for information whether that is news, access to digital services or socialising. While the internet gives rise to greater levels of communication and connectedness it also raises a number of challenges. The rise of a number of communities and ideologies that could be considered toxic, such as conspiracy theories, the ‘manosphere’ and alt-right groups, presents potential issues for the trustworthiness of information and also online safety.

This project looks to leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques (such as topic modelling) to better understand these communities and identify the topics and ideologies that are associated with them. The work will look to expand on the analysis of the discourse within these communities by investigating the interplay and commonalities between the various groups. The aim of the project is to better understand these communities, their overlap, and their place within the wider internet.

This PhD studentship will make use of NLP-based technologies to develop topic modelling methods to understand ideologies and common messaging across a range of communities. This will drive the development of a visualisation platform to engage with the corpuses of data and explore the links between them.

This project will offer the ability to investigate a relevant and exciting topic with the scope for real-world impact.

The project will cover a range of topics and skills, including:

  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Data science
  • Cyber security (including trust and online safety)
  • HCI and visualisation design
  • Experimental design

Primary supervisor: Dr Oli Buckley ([email protected] )

Start date: October 2023

For more information on this project, please visit

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in computer science, data science, cyber security, or other technical degree.


This PhD project is in a competition for studentships allocated to the School of Computing Sciences as a direct result is increased PGT student fee income for the MSc Courses in Cyber Security, Data Science and Computing Sciences.  All successful candidates will be expected to support PGT Lab sessions from October 2023 and related activities as allocated in support of these programmes within the working hours permitted for full-time Postgraduate Researchers.

Funding comprises ‘home’ tuition fees and an annual stipend (2022/23 rate is £17,668, 2023/24 tbc) for a maximum of 3 years.

View or Apply
To help us track our recruitment effort, please indicate in your cover/motivation letter where ( you saw this job posting.

Job Location