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PhD Studentship - Interfaces to IoT-enabled Flexibility in Buildings

University of Bristol - Computer Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 + per annum (subject to contracts)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 11th February 2019
Closes: 28th February 2019

The project:

The Department of Computer Science at the University of Bristol invites applications for a fully funded PhD studentship [EU/UK] to join our ICT4 sustainability group.

This PhD project investigates how occupants can interact with IoT building automation systems to improve both their acceptability to occupants and effectiveness. The outcome of this work will a set of design principles for building control interfaces for occupants, implementation of example interfaces, and their living lab evaluation.

Environmental sensors and actuators in building IoT have the potential to fundamentally change the way building services, such as heat, light, air and space are provided. Instead of operating buildings services with large margins based on static average case assumptions, real time information can be used to first determine the exact demand and then make adjustments to provide exactly the right amount of services thus using resources more efficiently. Furthermore, it is known that the acceptability of service automation is enhanced when occupants have some degree of control over it. At the university we have a large living lab that is readily equipped with IoT to enable a variety of experiments.

As part of this PhD a set of user interfaces will be implemented and evaluated that will be co-designed with occupants, with a particular emphasis on understanding what users wish to have active control over, what they are willing to delegate to automation, and what affects this decision.  There is scope to capture the influence of contextual factors (such as physical infrastructure, time and environment), motivational factors (such as norms and benefits) and behavioural factors that influence the use and effectiveness of the interventions.

The intended outcome of the work is a set of generalisations based on the results of the user studies and occupant interface implementations. The work will be publishable at top tier HCI conferences such as CHI or Ubicomp. The student will establish close links with colleagues from experimental psychology. At the end of the PhD, the student will have developed a variety of skills that will enable them to enter the fast-growing world of applications for building IoT.

How to apply:

To discuss your application please contact Dr Dan Schien,  

Please make an online application for this project at Please select < Computer Science> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor.

Candidate requirements: 

Candidates should possess a minimum 2:1 honour degree in Computer Science or a related discipline.  A recognised English language qualification is required if English is not your first language at Profile E.  Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.


Scholarship covers full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to 1st September 2019) PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,777 in 2018/19).  EU nationals resident in the UK may apply but will only qualify for PhD tuition fees.


Informal enquiries - Dr Dan Schien,

General enquiries, please email

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