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University of Leeds School of Design – Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2024


Key facts

Wednesday 10 April 2024
Number of funding places
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Key staff
Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys
Additional staff
Dr Qais Ahmad, Dr Hosam AL-Samarraie, Dr Nina Hansopaheluwakan-Edward, Dr Arjun Khara
School of Design
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Two full scholarships are available in the School of Design in 2024/25 for Graphic, Digital and Communication Design research. Each 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 2024/25 for the School of Design Doctoral Scholarship. Each 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 /> These fully funded PhD places provide an exciting opportunity to pursue postgraduate research on a Graphic, Digital and Communication Design research topic. We especially welcome applications that connect to the School research strengths in innovative, user-centred design and align with one of these research themes: Design for ocean, Digital design and user behaviour, Immersive technologies and persuasion, Inclusive typography and information 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 XR design.

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

<p>In the School of Design, 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>Research proposals for this scholarship must align with one of the following current research themes:</p> <p><strong>Design for ocean</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 people&#39;s perceptions of the urgency to act and awareness of the consequences of their own behaviours.</p> <p>Since focusing on knowledge alone is often insufficient for achieving communication goals, this project aims to address the emotional connections and engagement rather than simply attempting to &#39;plug&#39; the knowledge gap. 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 the ocean.</p> <p>Research in this direction will bring possible solutions to specific marine problems by designing and prototyping objects with human-like emotions. Topics of the current stage would cover science communication, Ocean literacy, interactive technologies, learning tools, UI &amp; UX, etc, through a design-based approach.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with <strong>Dr Rui Leitao</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><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 <strong>Dr Nina Hansopaheluwakan-Edward </strong>(<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;<br /> &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 <strong>Dr Francisco Queiroz</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p>&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 <strong>Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <strong>Online education and student experience</strong><br /> With the expansion of online learning materials, understanding how to best create inclusive and engaging digital student learning experiences is necessary. For many years, online learning has not been optimised for students and with an increasing global student body in tertiary education, it becomes more important to understand the context and experience of learning online. This study will investigate student online learning behaviour and needs. This may be related to learning environment, technology, or other relevant factors that influence the design of learning materials. It will do this while identifying the differences in engaging with digital learning materials, student accessibility needs, and cultural implications related to learning. Research questions could explore ways of optimising the online learning experience, including learning materials and required student feedback, and outlining best practice for online learning for a diverse and global student body. This project may use approaches from user-centred design, service design, information design, or any other appropriate communication design perspective.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with <strong>Dr Kimberly Sheen</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <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 <strong>Dr Francisco Queiroz</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p>&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 <strong>Dr Qingxin Peng</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><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 <strong>Dr Pinar Yelmi </strong>(<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /> <strong>XR across disciplines</strong><br /> Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) all have the potential to facilitate various emotional and behavioural factors. Further research can be conducted to address specific user interaction and engagement challenges in different settings and situations. Sustaining user interaction and engagement with XR (Extended Reality) applications can be challenging, especially considering the diverse needs and design preferences of users. Therefore, exploring the application of innovative visual and communication patterns, representations, strategies, cues, and metaphors can stimulate long-term interaction and engagement with XR applications. This exploration can be carried out in specific contexts such as healthcare and education, with a direct benefit to specific populations or subgroups of interest, such as the elderly or young users.</p> <p>Applicants are invited to discuss their research proposal with <strong>Dr Hosam AL-Samarraie</strong> (<a href=""></a>) ahead of submitting their application.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For more information about the School of Design&rsquo;s expertise in Communication and Experience Design, visit <a href=""></a>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Information about the Award</strong></p> <ul> <li>We are offering 2&nbsp;full-time/part-time PHD scholarships in the School of Design for UK candidates, matching UKRI maintenance stipend (currently &pound;18,622 in 2023/24) 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). Each award will be made for one year in the first instance and renewable for a further period of up to two years, 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 2024.</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 &ldquo;The School of Design &ndash; Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2024&rdquo;. You will be expected to meet our <a href="">eligibility criteria</a> for PHD candidates.</p> <p>In order to be considered for the Studentship you must submit all the required supporting documents for your application for PhD study 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 research proposal should outline the following in relation to one of the topic areas above:</p> <p>&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Research context to include scholarly 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<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Research questions and aims and objectives<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Methodology<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Expected Outcomes&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Timeline of research<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Bibliography</p> <p>Your personal statement should:<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Demonstrate expertise gained from previous study, practice, or employment&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Include links to websites with your work.</p> <p>Once you have received your student ID number (a 9-digit number) move onto stage 2.</p> <p><strong>Stage 2</strong><br /> Apply for the School of Design &ndash; Graphic, Digital and Communication Design PhD Scholarship 2024 by completing the <a href="">Scholarship Application Form</a>. You must submit your scholarship application by <strong>12.00 p.m. on 10 April 2024.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the School of Design&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</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 please contact the Graduate School Office: <a href=""></a>&nbsp;<br /> Please address general enquiries to Dr Jeanne-Louise Moys, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies: For specific topic enquiries please contact the named research contact.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</p>