EPSRC iCASE Award PhD studentship in Data Science and User Experience

Primary supervisor

Additional supervisors

  • Robert Stevens

Additional information

Contact admissions office

Other projects with the same supervisor


  • Directly Funded Project (European/UK Students Only)
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Project description

Applications are invited for this fully funded (tuition fees plus additional stipend), full-time PhD EPSRC iCASE studentship, to start in September 2017 or as soon as appropriate. This studentship is part of a newly established partnership between the University of Manchester and the BBC R&D that will launch in October 2017. BBC R&D is setting up a multi-university research partnership in Data Science and the University of Manchester will be a partner in this initiative.

Content discovery through future user interfaces, will span data science & machine learning to investigate approaches for creating user experiences for devices such as augmented reality headsets and location-aware mobile phones. As user devices become more aware of their location and surroundings, it will become possible to offer content to audiences that is designed to be relevant to their current environment and intentions rather than relying on the user to actively search for content. There is a wealth of public-service content available that could be very useful when delivered using such an approach. However, such content is likely to have to be relatively short and self-contained, to fit the time that a user may have available for such "ambient" consumption. This project will address one or more of the challenges needed to achieve this goal, such as how to identify short self-contained content clips from existing content, or how to offer the user clips relevant to their current environment in an engaging way.

BBC Research and Development (bbc.co.uk/rd) has a worldwide reputation for contributing to and leading the engineering research and development of many of the key broadcast technologies that have been introduced over the last fifty years. BBC R&D is based in two labs, one in West London and one being grown as part of the MediaCityUK development in Salford. The student will be expected to spend a significant proportion of their time based in our MediaCityUK lab.

Applicants should have or expect to obtain a BSc 1st Class or MSc with Distinction in computer science or a related discipline and have some experience of data analysis or machine learning, user experience design and excellent programming skills. Applicants must also have British citizenship or be a permanent resident and have lived in the UK for the last 3 years.

Application Deadline: 31st July 2017.

informal enquiries to Sarah Clinch (Sarah.Clinch@manchester.ac.uk).

Please submit a full application via the standard application route

Person specification

For information


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • Able to travel in UK and abroad on BBC business
  • An informed knowledge of and passion for the technologies involved in a media organisation
  • Capable of highly original work together with an enquiring mind with well-developed analytical and investigative skills
  • Ability to rapidly acquire new skills and to work with new technologies with little documentation or support
  • This project requires mathematical engagement and ability substantially greater than for a typical Computer Science PhD. Give evidence for appropriate competence, as relevant to the project description.
  • A track record in software and/or electronic engineering, Human-Computer Interaction and/or behavioural scientific research
  • Awareness of emerging trends and developments in relevant technology, gained through project work as part of a relevant degree, extra-curricular project work or employment experience
  • Good written and oral communication skills, able to promote ideas by logical argument and capable of presenting the results of a project in a clear and effective manner
  • Self-motivated, with the drive and initiative to carry out projects according to plan, and the ability to quickly adapt in a fast-changing environment
  • You must be capable of performing at a very high level.
  • You must have a self-driven interest in uncovering and solving unknown problems and be able to work hard and creatively without constant supervision.


Applicants will be required to evidence the following skills and qualifications.

  • Understanding of the needs of different kinds of BBC users and how to apply this to the development of user interfaces and new kinds of user experience
  • Ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team
  • Ability to propose novel ideas involving the application of technology to media content production, and the ability to pitch these ideas convincingly to non-technical people
  • Sound resource management skills and be able to lead, motivate and direct support staff and contractors contributing to the project
  • You will possess determination (which is often more important than qualifications) although you'll need a good amount of both.
  • You will have good time management.


Applicants will be required to address the following.

  • Discuss your final year Undergraduate project work - and if appropriate your MSc project work.
  • How well does your previous study prepare you for undertaking Postgraduate Research?
  • Comment on your transcript/predicted degree marks, outlining both strong and weak points.
  • Why do you believe you are suitable for doing Postgraduate Research?
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