Fully-funded PhD opportunity: labour market intelligence and machine learning

ESRC-SDS-Napier studentship logos

We invite applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University.

The studentship is entitled Enhancing labour market intelligence using machine learning. It is suitable for holders of undergraduate or Masters degrees in subjects such as Business Information Systems, Business Studies, Computing, Data Science, or Information Science, who have interests in one or more of the following:

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Natural Language Processing
  • Business Information Technology
  • Data Science
  • Information Science
  • Labour Market Intelligence

The project

The success of Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) for forecasting is predicated on accurate, reliable, robust, and accessible data that underpins the decision-making process. Developing, processing, and maintaining vast quantities of often unstructured data (such as text or time-series data) is extremely difficult.

The work to be undertaken for this doctoral study focuses on the application of novel and explainable artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to enhance the current provision of LMI, with a particular reference to skills planning, forecasting and investment in training provision.

In the initial stages of the research, identification of existing and potential applications of machine learning and Natural Language Processing to enhance LMI will be explored. Thereafter, identification of suitable data sources for predictive purposes will be investigated, drawing upon existing Skills Development Scotland (SDS) data and previous research. The PhD candidate, with guidance from the supervision team, will explore these opportunities to develop novel machine learning models that represent a move towards dynamic forecasting capabilities that can be evaluated through ethical and explainable machine learning approaches.

Completion of the project will contribute new knowledge through the provision of state-of-the-art models for LMI forecasting, natural language processing and information representation. This proposal is highly innovative: It extends and enhances the scope of current LMI forecasting; It supports improvements to the My World of Work portal and the accuracy and relevance of data to users; whilst strengthening the SDS Strategic Frameworks beyond 2022 by ensuring that the latest evidence underpins future frameworks.

Supervision team

Four staff from Napier’s School of Computing and Business School will supervise the student. They are: Director of Studies Dr David Brazier (Computing), Dr Dimitra Gkatzia (Computing), Dr Matthew Dutton (Business School), and Alistair Lawson (Computing).


The funding includes fees, a stipend, and training budget for either three or four years. Home students (only) are eligible apply. (See the ESRC eligibility information.)

  • The +3 programme is for those who already have a Masters degree with a strong focus on research methods, and are qualified to start their doctoral studies in October 2021
  • The 1+3 programme includes a first year on a Masters degree in research methods in 2021/22, followed by three years of doctoral studies from October 2022.

This studentship is an ESCR/Skills Development Scotland (SDS) collaborative award. It is offered through the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Information and Communication Studies pathway of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS).

Our track record of ESRC/SDS collaborative awards

The Centre for Social Informatics has a strong track record of supporting ESRC/SDS-funded PhD students. We have four students currently on the programme, and two graduates: Dr John Mowbray 2018 – now a Research Officer at the Scottish Government; Dr Lyndsey Middleton 2020 – now an Assistant Statistician, also at the Scottish Government.

We have recently recruited another student to the programme, who will also start in October 2021 alongside the successful candidate for this advertised studentship.

(We currently have a total of nine research students in the Centre for Social Informatics.)

Recruitment timetable

The recruitment timetable for the studentship is as follows:

  • Applications are due by 4pm Monday 21st June 2021
  • Notifications of interview will be issued on or before Wednesday 23rd June 2021
  • Interviews are scheduled for Monday 28th June 2021 (online)
  • The studentship will start in October 2021
    • As a three year programme, if the appointed student already holds a Masters degree with at least 60 credits of research methods training
    • As a 1+3 four year programme, if the appointed student do(s not already hold a Masters degree with at least 60 credits of research methods training, with an MSc(R) undertaken as the first year, followed by three years of doctoral study

Application process

The studentships can be taken full-time or part-time. Only home students are eligible to apply. For full details including the application process, please see the full advertisement on the SGSSS web site.

Prospective applicants are also welcome to contact Dr David Brazier as the Director of Studies of the studentship with any enquiries about this opportunity d.brazier@napier.ac.uk

Two fully-funded PhD studentship opportunities: (1) labour market intelligence and machine learning; (2) gendered career choices

Merchiston Tower spring

The successful candidates will be based at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus

Applications are invited for two fully-funded PhD studentships within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. These are:

  1. Enhancing labour market intelligence using machine learning to be supervised by Dr David Brazier, Dr Dimitra Gkatzia, Dr Matthew Dutton, and Alistair Lawson
  2. Gendered information landscapes and their impact on routes into, and through, apprenticeships to be supervised by Dr Ella Taylor-Smith, Professor Sally Smith, and Dr Colin Smith

Continue reading

Farewell 2020

Social Informatcis staff and students all centre meeting December 2019

The way we were, December 2019. L to R: John Marshall, Peter Cruickshank, Lyndsey Middleton (now graduated with PhD), Katherine Stephen, Rachel Salzano, Marina Milosheva, Laura Muir (now retired), Hazel Hall, Leo Appleton (now graduated with PhD), Ella Taylor-Smith, David Haynes, David Brazier, Frances Ryan (now Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen), Colin Smith, Wegene Demeke, and Bruce Ryan.

Just over a year ago, on 22nd December 2019, I summarised the the previous six months of activities of the members of the Centre for Social Informatics. I illustrated this account with a jolly photograph of us all bunched closely together around the table a few days earlier in room C34a of Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus. Continue reading

Research group highlights of 2020, and hopes for 2021

This time last year on 18th December 2019, following our usual tradition, the Centre for Social Informatics staff and students marked the end of the year with an ‘All centre’ celebration of their achievements of the previous six months. This kind of get-together is completely impossible under the current pandemic restrictions. So, instead of the usual hilarity in room C34a of Napier’s Merchiston campus, during which I use my enormous egg timer to time five minute updates from everyone around the table over the course of two hours (glass of wine in hand), yesterday afternoon we gathered online for just 30 minutes of social fun. Continue reading

Congratulations to Marina Milosheva: awarded a distinction for her MSc(R)

Marina Milosheva

Marina Milosheva

Many congratulations to Centre for Social Informatics PhD student Marina Milosheva. Marina has achieved a distinction in the Masters degree that she undertook in 2019/20 in first year of her four year 1+3 doctoral programme.

Marina is the fourth of our six Skills Development Scotland (SDS)/ESRC funded PhD students, and the second to be awarded the MSc by Research (MScR) in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Edinburgh. This Masters year is offered to all students who win an Edinburgh Napier SDS/ESRC doctoral studentship to study with us for a PhD at Napier, but who do not already hold a Masters degree that incorporates 60 credits of research methods training. Continue reading

Newly published: version 11.2 of the Centre for Social Informatics flyer (autumn 2020)

Centre for Social Informatics bannerThe Centre for Social Informatics flyer (version 11.2) has just been updated for the new academic year. Follow the link to read about the work of our group, including details of research expertise, funders, recent PhD completions, and recent publications. The flyer includes profiles of the group’s academic and research staff: Continue reading

Congratulations Dr Iris Buunk!

Congratulations to our Centre for Social Informatics colleague Dr Iris Buunk on the award of her PhD yesterday. Normally we would have celebrated with Iris at the Edinburgh Napier University graduation ceremony at the Usher Hall. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, we had to find an alternative way to mark Iris’s achievement: a jolly drinks party on Zoom. Continue reading

Emerging from lockdown in Scotland

COVID-19 teasting signIt’s 15 weeks since I posted A month in coronavirus captivity. At that time I suggested that I might ‘revisit the themes discussed here in a future blog post and reflect on the changes in the intervening period’ – so here I am again! Continue reading

Congratulations Dr Lyndsey Middleton and Dr Leo Appleton!

Congratulations to our Centre for Social Informatics colleagues Dr Lyndsey Middleton (née Jenkins) and Dr Leo Appleton, both of whom graduated with their PhDs last week. Sadly, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to celebrate with them in person in the usual way at the Edinburgh Napier University graduation ceremony at the Usher Hall. However, the University was able to mark the day in other ways, including this video.

Lyndsey’s PhD thesis is entitled Exploring the development of innovative work behaviour of employees in multiple workplace contexts. Continue reading

Katherine Stephen introduces her PhD on metaskills maturity for future workplaces

Katherine Stephen SDS presentation 2020Amongst the doctoral studies undertaken within the Centre for Social Informatics are a number that are co-funded by the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland (SDS). To date, we have: Continue reading