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University of Leeds School of Design – Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2023


Key facts

Monday 3 April 2023
Funding start date
Sunday 1 October 2023
Number of funding places
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
School of Design
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

One full scholarship is available in the School of Design in 2023/24 for Graphic, Digital and Communication Design research. This scholarship is open to UK applicants and covers fees plus UKRI matched maintenance stipend for 3 years. <br /> <br /> The School of Design invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2023/24 for the School of Design Doctoral Scholarship. The award is open to full-time or part-time candidates (UK only) who have been offered a place on a PhD degree at the School of Design. <br /> <br /> This fully funded PhD place provides an exciting opportunity to pursue postgraduate research on a Graphic, Digital and Communication Design research topic. We especially welcome applications that connect to the research strengths of the School of Design in innovative, user-centred design and align with one of these eight research themes: Digital Design and User Behaviour, Immersive technologies and persuasion, Inclusive typography and information design, Nature-centred Design, Virtual Reality and Design Education, Visual Communication Design in Brand Promotion and Digital Marketing, Visual Communication Design in Interactive Experiences, and Visual Communication in AR and VR Design.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible"Full description</h2>

<p>In the <a href="">School of Design</a>, we bring together academic research, creativity and technology to provide innovative, people-centred responses to contemporary issues in design and communication. We have excellent relationships with a range of industry and community partners. We invest in advanced technologies to ensure our research is world-leading and has real-world impact.&nbsp;</p> <p>For those interested in engaging with immersive technologies, we offer standalone Android-based Virtual Reality headsets, enabling VR prototype testing and development of research and design projects. Other excellent research facilities include our eye-tracking measurement system including mobile glasses, which are used to understand how users interact with design. We also have EEG (electroencephalography) equipment to understand how users interact with the world. We have a lighting and colour lab with the latest colour measurement and communication tools to explore the role of colour in the design and retail industry and the effect of light on health and wellbeing.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <strong>Research proposals for this scholarship must align with one of the following current research themes:</strong></p> <p><br /> <strong>Digital Design and User Behaviour</strong><br /> The power of digital design is often undervalued, unnoticeably yet influential in decision-making and behaviour. People make better choices when they are exposed to behaviourally informed designs. A minor change in a design can have a major impact that determines the quality of our decisions. Interface and interaction design are the two factors predominantly looked at in digital design practice. The study will investigate how digital design impacts and influences user behaviour in making decisions, while identifying different strategies and opportunities for further development. The project will propose an innovative approach to assist people&#39;s needs (e.g. commercial purchases, products/services comparison, trades, etc) or create solutions to encourage behavioural change towards better health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Nina Hansopaheluwakan-Edward (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Immersive Technologies and Persuasion&nbsp;</strong><br /> The recent emergence of Virtual Reality headsets as consumer products, as well as the ubiquity of mobile Augmented Reality experiences available through smartphones, have increased significantly the use of immersive technologies for training, education, entertainment, information, and business. Arguably, the unique capabilities of these technologies &ndash; including its immersive and interactive nature &ndash; provide novel opportunities for digital communication design.&nbsp;</p> <p>This project aims at investigating the potential of immersive technologies for persuasion, fostering clear communication and increased sense of empathy. As such, it will take in consideration immersive sound and vision, as well as embodiment, spatiality, interactivity, simulation, and kinaesthetic interaction.&nbsp;</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Francisco Queiroz (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Inclusive Typography and Information Design</strong><br /> Principles of inclusive design strive to enable accessibility for all kinds of users. However, visual communication research often focuses on identifying typographic and design parameters for people with particular kinds of disabilities or user needs. This can lead to recommendations that may undermine the user experience of people with other kinds of disabilities. Co-design approaches can help identify alternative insights and guidelines for more inclusive communication practices to complement and better contextualise the findings of empirical practices. We invite proposals that consider the complexities of inclusive practice in typography and information design through co-design and collaborative methods with a range of stakeholders.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Nature-centred Design</strong><br /> Low levels of concern about anthropogenic climate change have been attributed to a range of factors. These include people&#39;s lack of understanding and engagement with the multifaceted nature and extent of the problem that it presents to current and future generations. Limited knowledge is also known to be an obstacle to individual behaviour change, with important implications for young people&#39;s perceptions of the urgency to act and awareness of the consequences of their own behaviours.</p> <p>This project aims to address the emotional connection and behaviours rather than simply attempting to &#39;plug&#39; the knowledge gap. A focus on knowledge alone often is not sufficient for achieving communication goals. Further progress on environmental protection and sustainable development lies with a public that is not only informed but also engaged.<br /> The project intents to advance in Nature-centred Design methods and develop design strategies and research tools to stimulate people to act sustainably and mitigate the human impact on nature. Topics of the current stage will cover science communication, climate change, interactive technologies, user experience (UX), etc.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Rui Leitao (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Virtual Reality and Design Education</strong><br /> The recent surge of affordable Virtual Reality (VR) headsets has popularised the use of VR in training and teaching, facilitating learning through simulation, as well in design and industry, where it is used to accelerate development of solutions and reduce costs with prototyping. The use of VR in design education seems, then, beneficial in multiple ways: first, for providing a new platform for students to experience and learn design principles, practices and applications; second, for serving as a virtual testbed for learners to deploy and quickly visualise their own design outputs, saving time and resources.</p> <p>This research aims at exploring VR solutions for design education, involving students and educators in the conceptualisation, prototyping, development and use of bespoke solutions for a range of programmes and modules in graphic, textiles, and fashion design, having in mind its integration with skills outcomes and learning objectives, as well as its potential in preparing students for industry.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Francisco Queiroz (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Visual Communication Design in Brand Promotion and Digital Marketing</strong><br /> Visual communication mixes design data visualisation with numerous design approaches to create content for communicating brand meaning and value to consumers/audiences. It addresses the new ways in which brands engage with customers, through the latest digital channels as well as traditional methods. In conjunction with the customer behaviour study, we may conduct extensive research into the various approaches to visual communication design in brand promotion through design implementations specific to various product categories to capture audiences&#39; responses to different visual communication designs on various media platforms, then optimise the design process and maximise the design effects to ensure that an interactive experience can deliver a unique message. Meanwhile, we can investigate how different digital technologies can be used in visual communication design and combined with on/offline settings to help brands develop effective digital marketing strategies by explaining information, promoting products, or portraying a situation.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Qingxin Peng (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <strong>Visual Communication Design in Interactive Experiences</strong><br /> Interactivity is widely used in a variety of areas ranging from simple websites to complex systems and from digital to spatial experiences. Interactions are designed with a human-centred approach to convey the message more effectively by making users engaged with the system. Among the wide range of implementation areas of digital interactive experiences, we will conduct research in recently growing fields such as non-linear storytelling and digital exhibitions. Current research on non-linear storytelling mainly focuses on crowdsourced content collection and designing the paths within narratives. Besides going deeper into these areas, we will also search ways for designing further interactions which lead to user-centred interfaces in storytelling. Digital exhibition design is another highly demanded area by such cultural institutions as museums and galleries. In this context, we will go beyond directly transferring exhibition designs in real physical spaces by exploring how to design interactions and create digital experiences in line with the goals of cultural institutions.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Pinar Yelmi (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <strong>Visual Communication in AR &amp; VR Design&nbsp;</strong><br /> The recent advances in visual communication have contributed to many different areas and contexts. The application of certain graphics visual communication strategies has widely become the standard for defining the design of interactive Augmented reality (VR) and virtual reality (VR). Since current research in VR and AR design is addressing a wide range of behaviours, problems, experiences, etc., we can further research how to solve specific user interaction/engagement problems. User interaction and engagement with VR and AR applications can be difficult to sustain over long periods of time, especially when users&rsquo; needs and design preferences are heterogeneous. Thus, we can explore the application of novel visual and communication patterns, representations, strategies, cues, and metaphors in stimulating long-term interaction and engagement with AR/VR applications. This can be planned and conducted in a context-specific setting (e.g., healthcare and education) with a direct benefit to specific populations or subgroups of interest (e.g., elderly, young users, etc.).</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with Dr Hosam AL-Samarraie (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> For more information about the School of Design&rsquo;s expertise in Communication and Experience Design, visit our <a href="">website.</a></p> <p><br /> <br /> <strong>Information about the Award</strong></p> <ul> <li>We are offering 1 full-time/ part-time PHD scholarship in the School of Design for one UK candidate, covering matching UKRI maintenance stipend (currently &pound;17,668 in 2022/23) and UK tuition fees for three years, subject to satisfactory progress.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p><strong>Duration of the Award</strong></p> <ul> <li>Full-time (3 years) or part time (5 years). The award will be made for one year in the first instance and renewable for a further period of up to two years (full time) or 4 years (part time), subject to satisfactory academic progress.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Other Conditions</strong></p> <ul> <li>Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.</li> <li>Awards must be taken up by 1st October 2023.</li> <li>Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.<br /> &nbsp;</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p><strong>Stage 1</strong></p> <p>First, apply for a research place of study, through the <a href="">online application form</a>. Please state clearly that the funding you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;The School of Design &ndash; Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2023&rsquo;. You will be expected to meet our <a href="">eligibility criteria</a> for PHD candidates.</p> <p>In order to be considered for the Scholarship you must submit all the required supporting documents for your application for PhD study&nbsp;together with a research proposal, CV and a personal statement. If your proposed research design incorporates the development of design prototypes, it is recommended that the personal statement includes any relevant portfolio work or links to website(s) showing samples of relevant professional practice and technical proficiency.</p> <p>Your <strong>research proposal </strong>should outline the following in relation to one of the topic areas above:</p> <ul> <li>Research context to include awareness of current knowledge and debates &ndash; explain where there is a gap in current understanding and how your original research can push knowledge forward</li> <li>Research questions and aims and objectives</li> <li>Methodology</li> <li>Expected Outcomes&nbsp;</li> <li>Timeline of research</li> <li>Bibliography</li> </ul> <p>Your <strong>personal statement</strong> should:</p> <ul> <li>Demonstrate expertise gained from previous study, practice, or employment&nbsp;</li> <li>Include links to websites with your work.</li> </ul> <p>Once you have received your student ID number (a 9-digit number) move onto stage 2.</p> <p><strong>Stage 2</strong></p> <p>Apply for &lsquo;The School of Design &ndash; Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2023&rsquo; by completing the <a href="">Scholarship Application Form</a>. You must submit your scholarship application by <strong>12.00 p.m. on Monday 3rd April 2023.</strong></p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Design should normally have a First class Undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) AND/ OR a Distinction (or predicted Distinction) in their Masters degree (both in an appropriate discipline). Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for postgraduate research study in the School of Design is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information related to the application process please email the Graduate School Admissions Team at&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h2>