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Research Degrees

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) seeks to foster innovation within creative practice, employ creative practice as a methodology to enhance other disciplines or domains, and contribute towards an explicit and transparent knowledge base that furthers our disciplines in the future. In the most recent UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE2008), DJCAD was rated top in the UK for the quality of its art & design research environment. Evidence of our research esteem is seen in the decision by the Victoria & Albert Museum and Scottish Enterprise, backed by the Scottish Government, to establish 'V&A Dundee' – a joint facility to conduct research into future visual products and processes in design and craft. In the last decade, in parallel to the development of our research profile and academic researchers, we have grown a thriving community of research degrees students. We welcome applications from excellent candidates who are keen to join this vibrant research community and whose interests align with our research strengths:

  • Digital Economy, Futures & Culture
    Exploring future technologies and user interactions through critical design Software and product design, Assistive technologies, Serious Games, Visual Effects for Film& TV Future Practices in Design & Craft, Sustainable Design, Environmental solutions
  • Visualisation & the Application of Visual Thinking
    Visualisation & Simulation, Mediating technology, information design, Applying design thinking, Public engagement, Identity cultural & sense of place, Design in Public, Policy, Society, Business-Service Design, Design in new contexts (health etc) Exploring the economic / social impact of new practices
  • Art, Media, and Visual Studies
    Histories & Archives, Curation as practice, Theoretical studies, Visual Studies, Art & Philosophy, Aesthetics, Word & Image, Artists’ practice-led research

Undertaking a research degree can be a highly rewarding journey, allowing you time and space to thoroughly explore a field about which you are passionate, under the guidance of a supervisor with expertise in the field. The enviable position of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design within a world class research university means that we have excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary research and the facility to seek advice from a wide range of experts in many fields.

What is a research degree?

A research degree can be described as a critical investigation into a subject using appropriate methods, a systematic approach and rigorous evaluation. In art, media and design, the research degree can take the form of an investigation culminating in a conventional written thesis. However, we also have expertise in the supervision of practice led PhD’s where the creative practice forms the major part of the degree and is supported by a short written commentary.

In addition to a research degree culminating in a piece of scholarly work, research students develop a wide range of skills and understanding that go beyond their specific study area to equip you whether you intend a future career as a researcher or in a position outside academia. By the end of your research degree you should have gained competence and independence as a researcher, and your outcome should provide an original contribution to knowledge in your field and value to the University and wider academic community.

Types of research degree

There are two types of research degree offered at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The University of Dundee makes a distinction between a PhD and an MPhil. The MPhil degree differs from the PhD in terms of the depth of study required and the extent of the personal contribution to knowledge. The MPhil must display satisfactory background knowledge and requires competence in conducting an independent enquiry as well as in the use of appropriate research methods and techniques. The award of a PhD implies that the candidate has displayed mastery of a special field and made an original personal contribution to the understanding of a problem, or to the advancement of knowledge, or to the generation of new ideas.

Length of study

A Research degree can be undertaken on a full time or part time basis. The standard period of time for a research degree is:

 Full TimePart time

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

3 years

5 years

Masters by Research (MPhil)

2 years

4 years

The final output of a research degree undertaken in art, media and design at DJCAD may culminate in an entirely textual thesis or it can be a practice led research output which may comprise an exposition or portfolio of creative work with supporting documentation.  

Research environment

DJCAD has a very close relationship with Dundee Contemporary Arts, a leading arts complex in the UK. The Visual Research Centre occupies two floors of the DCA and offers a lively environment, conducive to the development of research and networking. At its heart is Centrespace, a test space for exposition, events and displays of all kinds. A number of our research students are housed in the VRC or its annex, while others are accommodated in the main art college buildings.

We currently have around 45 students from all over the world undertaking research degrees in the art, design and media disciplines.We will monitor your progress on a regular basis through a process called Thesis Monitoring. This is intended as a supportive process to help address any problems that students have encountered. All research students are also required to undertake research training each year. DJCAD organises a series of workshops specifically for art, media and design throughout the year.

Fully Funded PHD Scholarship Opportunities Available

PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, Product Design, Interaction Design:

“Meaningful Metadata: The things I wish I knew”


Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD scholarship at the University of Dundee, within Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, supported by a prestigious Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship, and in collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney.

You will have a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Product Design, Interaction Design, or a related area. You will join a growing interdisciplinary research group with backgrounds in HCI, Computing, Design, Psychology and the Arts, with a strong international research track record. You will be supervised by: Dr Wendy Moncur, University of Dundee; Professor Elise van den Hoven, University of Technology Sydney, Australia; and Dr Siân Lindley of Microsoft Research UK.


You will focus on the diverse digital materials that are generated around a significant life transition across four strands – ‘personal’, 'social', ‘organisational’, and ‘environmental’/ Internet of Things (IoT). These digital materials are usually scattered across multiple physical storage sites (e.g. laptop, cloud storage, mobile phone, server) and multiple sets of files. (Example: A life transition of emigration to a new country may generate digital materials that include electronic flight tickets, posts to friends on social media, and communications with government departments.)


You will explore how these digital materials and their associated metadata can be exploited in novel ways, both for functional purposes creating long-term utility, and to create new experiences that enable creative, evocative, and contextual uses of personal data – for example, by developing rich personal narratives from the data.

As a Microsoft Scholar:

You will be invited to Microsoft Research in Cambridge during the course of your PhD, for a PhD Summer School that includes a series of talks of academic interest and poster sessions, which provides the Scholars the opportunity to present their work to Microsoft researchers and a number of Cambridge academics.

Some of the Scholars may also be offered—at the sole discretion of Microsoft Research—an internship in one of the Microsoft Research laboratories. Internships involve working on a project alongside and as part of a team of Microsoft researchers. Scholars are paid during their internship—in addition to their scholarship bursary. Interested Scholars can apply through the Microsoft Research careers page.

Criteria and Eligibility

You should have a first class degree or good 2:1 and/or a Masters or equivalent experience in Human-Computer Interaction, Product Design, Interaction Design or a related area. Good spoken and written English is essential. The ability to employ a range of fieldwork techniques to inform the design of novel interfaces is desired. The ability to develop functional digital prototypes is essential.

The award is open to all nationalities, although funding for fees will only be paid at the rate charged to UK/ EU nationals. You will be required to meet the University of Dundee’s English Language requirements and will be asked to provide a copy of the certificate.

There is a stipend of £14,296 per annum for 36 months (full time), increasing annually in line with RCUK guidance ( In addition, you will receive a fixed hardware allowance and conference allowance.

Following interview, you will also need to apply and meet the University of Dundee’s entry requirements for PhD study.


The deadline for applications is 14th November 2016. You will be expected to commence your PhD studies in early 2017.

Applicants should submit a CV and a two-page statement describing their interest in pursuing a PhD and their experience as it relates to the topic in the first instance to Fiona Fyffe-Lawson, Administrator for Research, DJCAD.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr Wendy Moncur

Further information

Microsoft PhD Scholarships

Dr Wendy Moncur

Professor Elise van den Hoven

Dr Siân Lindley  

Relevant research

Digital Possessions

Living Digital

Materialising Memories