Funded PhD Opportunities at University of Stirling

Come work with CRISP!

The University of Stirling is investing in the next generation of researchers by making funding available for doctoral research.  This research can be undertaken in a number of CRISP related subject areas.  Deadline for applications is 14 April 2023.  So, why not come work with CRISP!

Research clusters include:

Democracy, Human Rights and Communication/Advocacy in the Digital Age

We are entering a new era of social media and digital data regulation. The digital age has come with new challenges to human rights and democracy in the public and digital sphere including the impact of hate speech, fake news, disinformation, censorship, uneven digital access, freedom of expression, media shutdowns and challenges to privacy and data protection. In addition, activists, advocacy groups, promotional industries and corporate organisations are increasingly using various data generated in the digital space to target consumers and governments to advocate for social justice and social change (digital activism), including gender, race and social inequalities related issues.  How can law and policy help to create a safer online environment, curb the spread of information disorder, mitigate bias in AI systems, and help shape the development of human rights compliant algorithms? How do we define democratic social media regulation and what are the strategies/opportunities for effective public participation, digital activism, and communication campaigns? How should regulators respond when free speech rights are used to impede democratic participation, reduce inclusion, or foster polarisation? Our cluster will have an impact in shaping the ethical conceptualisation, use, regulation, and transformation of the digital environment.

Example projects:

The example projects below are intended to inspire thought and provide context, but you are expected to submit an original project proposal that aligns with the research cluster.

  • Governing the Digital Environment: Regulating hate speech, information disorder, surveillance, AI bias and censorship.
  • Social Movements, Communication Campaigns and Digital Actors: Understanding Rights, Advocacy, and Participation in the Public Sphere

Just AI Lab

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – including autonomous systems, machine learning, and other data-driven smart systems – are increasingly taking on crucial roles in many contexts, including health and wellbeing, tourism and leisure, security, law, human resources and education. Often, the humans who interact with and use these systems have a limited understanding of how they work, and consequently how they arrive at the judgements and decisions they output, with important consequences for trust in outputs and understandings of uncertainty.  Against this backdrop, the core purpose of the Just AI Lab is the just transition to socially just, trustworthy, responsible, open, inclusive and sustainable AI through impactful mission-oriented interdisciplinary research. For the transition to be just, we must understand, use, and engage critically with AI in all aspects of human endeavour. Through Just AI, we embrace the vision of the Scottish AI Strategy of a fairer, greener, more prosperous, and outward looking Scotland. Our key areas of interest are: Just Wellbeing, Just Work, Just Services, and Just Commerce and Just Governance.

Example projects:

The example projects below are intended to inspire thought and provide context, but you are expected to submit an original project proposal that aligns with the research cluster.

  • How can the regulation of AI and AI-generated decisions / outputs ensure the just transition to AI and its use to tackle societal challenges e.g. climate justice, social justice, etc.?
  • How to deal with uncertainty, trust, and ethical design principles for transparent automated decision-making within selected domains such as organisational behaviour, governance, administration?
  • How to develop and test AI tools to enhance healthy life choices for psychological and physical wellbeing?

Inclusive Ageing in a Digital World

Rapid advances in digital technology, accelerating during and beyond the pandemic, have the potential to transform the social, cultural and economic lives of older people and the services that support them. However, simultaneously such changes pose significant risks to human rights particularly when social inclusion depends on digital inclusion; ready access to technologies and the skills and confidence to use them are essential. Older people, globally the fastest growing part of the population, face particular barriers to accessing and using technology.  Not least among these are ageist attitudes that promote assumptions about older people’s lack of willingness and ability to use technology that can shape both technology design, the use and management of data supporting these technologies, and the design of technology enabled or mediated services. For older people with long term conditions such as dementia, digital exclusion can be further exacerbated through the lack of consideration of their specific needs.  Finally, the data collected by and held within technology systems may have significant moral, ethical and practical implications both for the delivery of services for older people and for older people themselves.  If older people’s human rights are to be protected in the face of ongoing technological change, then knowledge is urgently needed about how they relate to and interact with technology, how technology is changing their lives and the risks and trade-off inherent in these processes. This cluster offers the opportunity for students from a wide range of disciplines to join a group of research-active, experienced and supportive academics from across gerontology, dementia studies, health psychology, marketing and retail, public health, data science and computing science to undertake a multidisciplinary research project addressing this urgent and real-world challenge. 

Example projects:

The example projects below are intended to inspire thought and provide context, but you are expected to submit an original project proposal that aligns with the research cluster.

  • Exploring the anti- and non-consumption of digital technology by older people to understand barriers to technology use, and influences on wellbeing.
  • Critical engagement with the science and culture of big data collectors (e.g., Amazon) and older people’s responses to and understanding of the use of related devices and the data they collect.
  • Factors influencing adoption and integration of mainstream commercial smart technologies within social care systems supporting older people including people with dementia.

The funding scheme is organised by the University of Stirling Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS).

The guides for applications is available here.


February 2023 - Expressions of interest

February and March - IAS Webinars for applicants

14 April 2023 - Application deadline

IAS Funded Studentsships Homepage is here.