Collaborative PhDs

Please see below for details of our collaborative PhDs. These are some of the research areas that our partners are currently interested in and would welcome student research proposals for these awards.  Details on how to apply for the following awards can be found at the how to apply page. 

Lancaster University

Using mobile devices to understand geo-located cultural content in and around the Lake District

Many academic and cultural heritage organisations hold large quantities of digital material in their archives or galleries which are geo-located, in other words, they refer to specified locations on the Earth’s surface. This type of material is ideally suited to presenting to the public through the use of apps on mobile devices such as smart-phones or tablets.

While the basic technology for mobile apps is well established, the barriers to their effective use remain high. The major challenge is how to present large amounts of complex geo-located cultural heritage material to contrasting audiences from subject experts to general tourists.

This has to be done in ways that are understandable to the different user groups and encourage them to explore further. This will require the successful candidate to design a compelling mobile user experience in which the developed mobile app does not distract the user from the landscape but rather encourages interaction with it and its associated heritage.

The candidate will work with a potentially wide range of partners to investigate how to present a wide variety of cultural heritage material from a range of sources to a variety of audiences in ways that assist the partner organisation in their mission of educating the public about the culture and heritage of the Lake District and its surrounding area, while also encouraging visits to their site or sites.

Academics: Ian Gregory ( and Keith Cheverst (

Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT)

1. Social Engaged arts practice and learning, who are the New Commoners?

FACT is interested in Connected Devices research including IoT, open and big data and the democratic use of data, towards near future scenarios of assisted citizenship. With the demise of the Audit Commission, the expectation for a citizen-monitored local and national government spending mechanism through open data has not been adequately realised and spending on services remains opaque at least.

How can collaborations between Creative Industries, arts and cultural institutions and the academic community simultaneously educate and increase public agency in democratic processes that improve conditions for all when seen through the lens of the Social Economy of a country.

Academic: Consortium member
Non-HEI: Roger McKinley (

2. How is Exhibition and Public Programme effected by and how does it affect research itself?

Artistic programme themes: 

Networked Identity

  • How can new forms of networked communication affect what we do, how we connect and how we see others and ourselves?
  • How does the digital contribute to the creation of our intellectual, social, political and economic cultural landscape?
  • What does networked and mediated interaction reveal about us and possibilities for the future?

Arts and Science

  • What are the most productive ways in which we can hold a dialogue between art and science?
  • What are the similarities and differences between art and science?
  • What new practices bring the strengths of these practices together in an impactful way?


  • What are the major issues concerning health and wellbeing in modern society?
  • In what ways does digital culture detract from and potentially contribute to well-being in society?


  • What is the role of play in culture?
  • How can play enhance creativity, curiosity and innovation?
  • What role can the digital have in supporting play? How does a complex set of themes outlined above feed into current academic research and how does that research affect the programme itself?

Academic: Consortium member
Non-HEI: Roger McKinley (

3. Radical Innovation in exponential technologies – what is the arts and cultural sectors Value Add to creative industries and vice versa?  How and where do we include Entrepreneurial academics, entrepreneurial curators and entrepreneurial artists?

We are interested in Calm Technology research – where emerging development of embedded technologies, with innovative solutions to the problem of interruption by technology moves towards the idea of the invisible machine, including AI and ambient technology.
The promise of ubiquitous computing to crease an embodied workplace has become the nightmare of “always on” and HCI distress.

  • How much notification and HCI activity can be moved to the periphery?
  • What Radical Innovation solutions can solve this wicked problem?

Additionally we are interested in research exploring Blockchain technologies and cultural transactions – upcycling digital assets and the archive as national ledger. We suffer from digital overabundance, yet tangible and intangible assets, central to understanding our culture and helping us imagineer the future, are chaotic, distributed and siloed.

  • Can we create a central nervous system for digital cultural artifacts using Blockchain mechanics?
  • How can this interact with people in learning and educational environments such as Online Education Resources in formal and informal learning scenarios?
  • Who are the innovators in this field?

Academic: Consortium member
Non-HEI: Roger McKinley (

Manchester Cathedral

Developing the theology of public engagement at Manchester Cathedral

Led by the Dean, Manchester Cathedral works in active partnership with a wide range of civic, business, religious and third sector institutions and their leaders.  It also has well-established working relationships with a wide range of community groups and networks that exist to build community cohesion and tackle pressing socio-political issues such as provision for refugees and the homeless, challenging hate crime, tackling human trafficking and promoting carbon literacy.

Based both in the Cathedral and at the University, the successful candidate will explore the Cathedral’s public engagement and constructively analyse the public theology that informs it.  S/he will explore the purposes and benefits of the present cultural conversations and partnerships.

The diverse range of day to day engagements presents the researcher interested in the public role of the church with an opportunity to undertake theological analysis that would indicate lines of development for such public theology in the future.  In preparing a research proposal, the prospective student would identify an area of public engagement in which to research the public theology/theologies presently at work and relate such findings critically to existing approaches in public theology.

Academic: Professor Peter Scott, Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute (
Non-HEI: the Revd Dr David Holgate, Canon for Theology and Mission, from whom advice would be available in the preparation of the research proposal (