Fully-funded PhD studentship opportunity: Natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people


ESRC-SDS-Napier studentship logos

Updated with new deadline: midday 30th April 2020

We are currently advertising a fully-funded PhD place within the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University for an October 2020 start date.

The scholarship is a Skills Development Scotland Collaborative award offered through the ESRC-funded Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS). It is for a doctoral study on natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people. The practical work to be undertaken for this PhD centres on the development of a dialogue system utilising existing data held by Skills Development Scotland, for young people to engage ‘in conversation’ about their career interests, aspirations, and strengths. The system to be developed is anticipated to take the form of an interactive avatar with identifiable human characteristics.

The doctoral study will supervised by staff from two research groups within the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University: (1) the Centre for Social Informatics (Professor Hazel Hall), and (2) the Nature-inspired Intelligent Systems group (Dr Dimtra Gkatzia). A third supervisor from the Social Sciences Research Group in the School of Applied Sciences completes the team (Dr Pete Robertson). Our group has a strong track record of supervising SDS collaborative studentships, with two completions to date (in 2018 and 2019) and three on-going studentships on this scheme.

This fully-funded studentship is offered full-time either as a three year programme (all spent on the doctoral project at Edinburgh Napier University), or a four year programme (one year on the MSc by Research in Science and Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh, followed by the three year doctoral project at Edinburgh Napier University). The length of programme to be undertaken by the successful candidate will depend on their existing qualifications. (These ESRC studentships can also be held on a part-time basis, subject to a minimum time commitment of 50%. In practice, this means that successful candidates who undertake the part-time route are permitted to work 18.75 hours in paid employment over the course of a week.)

We are keen to receive applications from Computer Science or Software Engineering graduates (or those due to graduate in these or other relevant subjects in summer 2020), who have some experience of studying Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, or Machine Learning (e.g. as part of a module, or in a project), and have achieved (or are on target for) a 1st class or 2.1 degree. The successful candidate will be interested in developing their skills in research methods and interdisciplinary approaches to tackling research problems, and in the application of computing in the social sciences (e.g. in Education, Information Science, Psychology), as well as to the core themes of this studentship.

  • Applications for this studentship should be submitted to GradHub by Thursday 30th April 2020 at midday
  • Interviews will take place in the week beginning 4th May (either online or at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus)
  • The start date for the successful candidate is Thursday 1st October 2020

Full details of eligibility criteria and the application process (through GradHub) can be found on the Current studentship opportunities page of the SGSSS web site at https://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/natural-language-interfaces/.

After successfully completing the SGSSS application process (i.e. submission of application documents to GradHub, successful interview in the week beginning 4th May, and studentship offer from SGSSS), the candidate to be appointed will be admitted to the PhD programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

For further information about this studentship, please contact Professor Hazel Hall (h.hall@napier.ac.uk) or Dr Dimitra Gkatzia (d.gkatzia@napier.ac.uk).