PhD Studentship - Understanding Energy use in the Home: Utilising Design and Technology to Enhance Understanding and Mpathy in Technology Developers

Aston University - Engineering and Applied Science

Contract Type: Fixed Term (for 3 years)

Closing Date: 23.59 hours GMT on Tuesday 31 October 2017

Interview Date: To be confirmed

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Sustainable Environment Research Group at Aston University.

The position is available to start in January or April 2018 (subject to negotiation)

Financial Support
This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance of £14,553 in 2017/18.
Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £12,005 in 2017/18.

As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or, secured this additional funding.

Background of the Project
There is an urgent need to reduce the carbon emissions produced by domestic properties and their occupants in the UK. This is likely to require a combination of technological intervention and behaviour change, involving significant change to UK homes, technology within them and user behaviours. User Centred Design (UCD) provides an approach to consider and investigate the user involvement and interaction with technologies. There are two key approaches to addressing reduction in domestic energy use in the UK, functionality matching (where the technology is adapted to meet the needs of users) and behaviour change (where the behaviour of the user is changed so that less energy is consumed). The UCD expert plays a key ‘bridging’ role in both of these approaches. Previous research has identified different theoretical methods which can help translate in-depth user narrative into a format which technology developers could use. However, what hasn’t been explored, are the wealth of creative and emerging technologies which could take this process one step further, by helping the engineer themselves to understand and empathise with the user. Furthermore, it is expected that these types of communication tool can also be utilised with the public to encourage wider behaviour change.

Person Specification
The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in User Centred Design/Product Design/Social Science or similar. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of qualitative research methods and creative technology and communication skills.   

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the Sustainable Environment Research Group, contact Dr Becky Mallaband by email:

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here.

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section.

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