CX Funded PhD Studentships

Lancaster University is seeking to recruit five PhD students to participate in an exciting collaborative project with a range of academic and industrial partners in the creative and digital industries

The five studentships are funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council via The Creative Exchange, one of four Knowledge Exchange (KE) Hubs for the Creative Economy established in January 2012 by the AHRC. Start date: October 2012. A tax-free stipend of £16,464 per year is awarded as part of the studentship.

The programme focus is knowledge exchange through project and practice-led work to develop new experiences, products, services, value and research with creative companies in something we are calling digital public space. The digital public space is about the ability of anyone, anywhere, anytime to access, explore and create with digital content.

This is a directed PhD addressing particular themes related to digital public space, including participation, experience, personalisation, connectivity, narrative and identity and how exchange between academic, commercial partners can encourage innovation in this area. The doctoral student will develop their PhD around practice and reflection on case studies of co-design experiments with companies and academics. Doctoral students at Lancaster University may specialise either on practice-based digital design of products, services or experiences or on knowledge exchange.

The three universities will each have a distinct and complementary focus: Lancaster University, designing experiences; Royal College of Art, communication innovation; and Newcastle University, digital prototyping.

About the Project

The Creative Exchange brings together three interdisciplinary design innovation labs at Lancaster University, Royal College of Art and Newcastle University. It responds to profound changes in practice in the creative and media based industries stimulated by the opening of something we are calling digital public space. The digital public space is about the ability of anyone, anywhere, anytime to access, explore and create with digital content.

The aim of The Creative Exchange will be to expand the creative economy through new forms of content experience, participation, personalisation and value creation in digital public space. It will involve intensive co-creation and design experiments with companies from the broadcast, performing and visual arts, digital media, design and gaming sectors, bringing together relevant Arts and Humanities academics, practitioners and companies with a cohort of PhD researchers around particular themes related to digital public space.

The three participating universities will act as local test beds for the development of products, services, interfaces and experiences with field trials in London, Lancaster and Newcastle prior to larger public facing field trials at FutureEverything/MediaCityUK in Manchester, which is the primary geographic focus for the project. The Creative Exchange will support the Northwest regional strategy for growth in digital and creative media industries, whilst generating comparative research and development locally, nationally and internationally.

Knowledge exchange mechanisms at Lancaster University include interaction design within facilitated industry workshops and ‘festival as lab’ field trials at the FutureEverything festival.

A cohort of 20 Doctoral researchers will be recruited in the first two years of the project in the three participating universities. They will be based in a dynamic series of Creative Exchange clusters, developing a series of projects with industry partners and contributing to new knowledge exchange practices.

Within Lancaster University, PhD candidates will be supervised by ImaginationLancaster in the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, led by Professor Rachel Cooper OBE, and by academics from other faculties including the School of Computing and Communications. This combination brings together expertise in digital design, citizen participation, user engagement and knowledge exchange. There will also be supervision or advisory support from the other collaborating universities and specialist training between the partner institutions.

Professor Rachel Cooper OBE is Director of The Creative Exchange. She is also President of the European Academy of Design, Editor of The Design Journal, and a trustee of the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). Dr Drew Hemment brings experience of research and practice in digital art and innovation and is Founder of the FutureEverything festival and innovation lab. Dr Leon Cruickshank is a specialist in research on knowledge exchange and in the ways technology can enable new relationships between users and designers.

About You

Lancaster University is looking to recruit five researchers with a strong desire to combine practical design project work and knowledge exchange with in-depth study, to start October 2012.

The content of your PhD will respond to the CX themes and to topics generated in partnership with Companies.

The Creative Exchange doctoral students at Lancaster University may specialise on either on practice-based digital design or products, services experiences or on knowledge exchange.

Digital design students will have a practice background in a design, media or art disciplines relevant to digital public space and the CX themes. For example, digital direction, interaction design, animation, communication design, computer science, new media art, film, innovation studies or arts curation. You will be able to show evidence of your role as a maker and innovator – and present a profile as a digital designer who can create and or build, test and evaluate.

Knowledge exchange students will be interested in exploring and developing new approaches to Open Design, participatory approaches, democratized innovation or citizen-led design. Experience in a range of disciplines relevant to this area, including; interaction design, design studies facilitation, graphic design, multimedia/digital design, business engagement, performance or innovation studies or Human Computer Interaction.

You will be able to demonstrate the potential of your work to promote creativity amongst groups of people (connected physically or virtually) through the design, making and delivery of new design processes, techniques or approaches.

By the start of the PhD studentship, you should have a good first degree and normally a postgraduate (Masters) degree in a relevant subject or equivalent experience.

You will have experience of industrial collaboration and, where possible, professional studio working. Where you have engaged in collaborative projects it is essential that you are able to clearly identify your own contribution.

You will be interested in piloting and testing with citizen groups as well as making, since it is essential that projects developed in The Creative Exchange’s clusters demonstrate wide social relevance and applicability.

You will be able to show the ability to write and critically reflect in the context of your practice.

You will have an open mind on the possibilities of the digital public space and the projects within The Creative Exchange, as the programme model will enable PhD researchers to work across a range of projects (a minimum of three) to build the thematic content of each individual Doctoral study.

How to apply

The application process will include:

  • Completion of the university standard application form including a short personal statement.
  • A supporting document (two pages) demonstrating your knowledge, experience and skills related to this area, your experience of working with companies, and the areas of interest you would like to develop within this project.
  • An online or other digital record of work (in any widely used format) to demonstrate your achievements

Given that the Doctoral studies of each researcher will need to be dovetail with the industrially-partnered clusters of The Creative Exchange, proposals should be flexible and broad-ranging as they will be subject to some modification to fit the overall programme.

What we are looking for above all else is a sense of your interests and skills and what you might contribute as a PhD candidate in relation to the potential of the digital public space.

Generally applicants must be UK or EU citizens and be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom. In order to be eligible for one of these studentship awards, a student must meet certain conditions relating to residence. Please refer to Annex A: Residency Eligibility for full details:

To apply complete the online application and submit attachments here:

Further details on how to apply are found here:

For any enquiries please contact Pam Allen, CX Project Manager, 01524 510879,

The closing date for applications is 30 April, and it is anticipated that interviews will take place at Lancaster University from May 2012 onwards.

Essential Information

For Entry: 2012/13

Director of Studies: Rachel Cooper

Duration: 3 years full time, in the first instance

Entry Requirements: An upper second class honours degree, or its equivalent, in a relevant discipline.

IELTS: 6.5

Department: Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts

Tel: +44(0)1524 510879