Apply to our PhD Studentships


We are seeking Two x Three-year PhD Studentships (full-time and fully funded) to work on the IN-TOUCH Project


University College London

Two x Three-year PhD Studentship (full-time) working on the IN-TOUCH Project

Commencing October 2017

Supervisors: Professors Carey Jewitt and Sara Price (UCL)

Project background and focus
Both studentships are linked to the IN-TOUCH: Digital Touch and Communication Project. IN-TOUCH is an exciting new five-year ERC Award led by Professor Carey Jewitt. –

Digital touch technologies are re-shaping what can be touched as well as how it can be touched to re-configure ways of knowing, that will lead to new forms of knowledge about the world and new modes of communication. The IN-TOUCH project will bring digital touch into sharp focus through the creation of a novel socially oriented framework that integrates the broad lens of anthropology of the senses, micro lens of multimodality, and the experiential lens of the arts to interrogate the latest digital touch communication devices and develop theoretical insights. IN-TOUCH aims to obtain a deep understanding of the social and semiotic character of touch as it is mediated by digital technologies and its consequences and impact on human communication, through four key objectives, to:

  1. Develop innovative and robust methodologies for researching digital touch communication in this fast-changing, complex digital terrain;
  2. Describe, explore and critically analyze the social and semiotic understanding of the communicative potentials and consequences of digital touch;
  3. Advance new theoretical insights on digital touch communication through grounded empirical research and interdisciplinary scholarship;
  4. Make a major contribution to knowledge on the use of digital touch technologies, interventions and design.


This is a highly innovative project with a commitment to interdisciplinary and innovative ways of researching digital communication across the social sciences and the arts is needed. The two PHD researchers will examine the social character of touch as it is mediated by digital technologies and its social consequences and impact on how we communicate. We are open to and interested in applicants’ ideas within this broad scope. Indicative topics include, but are not restricted to: Gender and digital touch communication; Touch communication at a distance; Emotion and digital touch communication. The form of the doctorate can be either written or practice-related (combining a written thesis with studio/maker practice).

The students will be based at UCL Knowledge Lab a leading interdisciplinary research unit focused on digital communication and learning, and based within the Culture, Communication and Media Department, University College London.

Candidate Requirements

The funding available is for UK/EU students only (due to the funding for fees available). Candidates must have:

  • A first class or upper second undergraduate degree, and a Master’s degree (preferably with Distinction) in a relevant discipline, including but not limited to Social Science (sociology, anthropology, media and communications), the Arts/Design, or HCI
  • Experience of undertaking postgraduate research
  • Proven excellent spoken and written English
  • Demonstrate a strong interest/knowledge of social aspects of digital technologies and communication (in its broadest sense) and in touch as it is digitally mediated for communication
  • A desire to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary team
  • Experience of conducting qualitative social research and research experience of working with digital touch technologies would be advantages

Knowledge and skills to be developed: This is an excellent opportunity for a student to further develop interdisciplinary knowledge and practical experience in: qualitative research in an exciting interdisciplinary team, with a focus on methodological innovation, digital technologies and touch communication. The studentship requires adventurous and flexible researchers. The programme of work will be across three years: Year 1: attend social science, technology and arts doctoral courses and seminars, conduct literature reviews, plan the detailed research, contribute to the project website and social media, apply for research ethics committee approval and access to relevant empirical sites, complete upgrade. The student will share in selecting the focus of the area of touch to be studied with guidance from the supervisors. Year 2: Conduct empirical fieldwork/case studies. Year 3: Complete data analysis and write up the thesis. Throughout the PHD you will contribute to the work of IN-TOUCH, workshop events and seminars and be a part of the research team.

Funding Details: The studentships is a (tax free) stipend for 3 years that requires the student to pay their EU/UK fees* out of the stipend.


Year 1 (2017-18): £24,195
Year 2 (2018-19): £25,375
Year 3 (2019-20): £26,683


Year 1 (2017-18): £4,195
Year 2 (2018-19): £4,275
Year 3 (2019-20): £4,361

**These fees are reduced by the department

How to apply: Eligible candidates should be via email and submitted to

  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV)
  • A covering letter (max 2 pages A4) explaining your interest in digital touch communication (max 1.5 pages A4) and your proposed focus (this will be negotiated with the supervisors)
  • An outline of your research methods training and experience (max 1 page)
  • A copy of a piece of your own work: e.g. a written (in English) publication for a peer reviewed journal (If jointly written publications are submitted please indicate your role in the writing and percentage of effort); an extended blog post; or a piece of relevant coursework

Closing date: for applications by email, 31 May 2017 deadline 12 pm (mid-night) GMT to A panel will review the applications, you may be invited to interview and references may be requested.

For informal inquiries contact Carey at