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Co-creation of Community Infrastructure: The University as a Platform? (Advert Reference: MRDF22/EE/HDD/DOW)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Andrew Dow  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Platformisation is omnipresent in everyday life of the UK and the wider globe. Social media platforms have become widely accepted as a major part of the means by which people interact and share experiences. Operating system and payment platforms have or are disrupting industries and the established supply chains in areas as diverse as financial transactions to taxi services. The commercial logics of platforming has transformed the business world. Attempts to take a similar approach to the public sector largely through Government as a Platform (GaaP) seeks to join up different government agencies into an online service state where citizens can be supported remotely by their individual service-orientated requirements. This notion of GaaP offers to embed the use of digital technologies to support the resolution of collective action problems at city, county, national and regional levels through the use of shared software data and services (Margetts and Naumann, 2017). Deployment of GaaP have been successful in the context of transactional service spheres such as taxation and transportation but have often failed in areas where the relationship between the ‘service provider’ and ‘customer’ is complex such as Healthcare (clinician-patient) or Education (teacher/lecturer-pupil/student) (Dow et al 2018, Dow et al 2019; Jamieson et al 2020). Although the Smart City agendas have made some progress in empowering citizens to an extent there remain significant problems with the governance of such platforms when embedded in the existing structures of vendor and local government norms and relationships. From the ‘bottom-up’ perspective communities of place and of interest although reaping some benefits from the ability to connect in new ways via social media platforms have struggled with the lack of governability and granularity when seeking to source assets or work in innovative ways around software based services or data. An alternative strategy is emerging around the idea of HEIs as a potential space for the intermediation and brokerage of services and a basis of relationships for potential collaborators the concept of a ‘University as a Platform’ (UaaP).

This PhD seeks to explore the issue in the negotiation and modelling of the ways a UaaP operates the governance beyond the scope of technical aspects of the platform (Jamieson et al 2020). Concretely we seek to pose the question regarding the activities supported by the platform and how changing expectations and intentions are represented on platform and its activities. Governability of a UaaP requires that implementing the consequences of governance activities in the evolution of the platform and the activities it supports are the co-creation of the community of users (including University researchers) and the mean by which they come to be defined and operationalised.

The candidate would be embedded in a faculty-based research group NorSC who will support and inform the work along with the supervision team, thus offering a fully supportive environment for completion and maximising the impact from the study. The PhD also aligns to the Human and Digital MDRT (the supervisory team are co-leaders/members of the network), and the faculty of BLs Living Lab facility. 

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr. Andrew Dow.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. MRDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Jamieson, D., Wilson, R. & Martin, M., Is the GaaP wider than we think? Applying a sociotechnical lens to Government-As-A-Platform 2020, Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance. Charalabidis, Y., Cunha, M. A. & Sarantis, D.
(eds.). New York: ACM, p. 514-517 4 p. (ACM International Conference Proceeding Series).
Jamieson, D., Martin, M., & Wilson, R.. (2020). COSMOS – The Co-creation Service Modelling System. Software
Dow, A., Comber, R., Vines, J. Communities to the left of me, bureaucrats to the right…here I am, stuck in the middle, 2019, Interactions
Dow, A., Comber, R., Vines, J. Between Grassroots and the Hierarchy: Lessons Learned from the Design of a Public Services Directory, 2018, CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'18), ACM
Toombs, A., Dow, A., Vines, J., Dennis, B., Clarke, R., Light, A., Gray, C Designing for everyday care in communities,. 2018, DIS 2018 - Companion Publication of the 2018 Designing Interactive Systems Conference, ACM
Puussaar, A., Johnson, I., Montague, K., James, P., Wright, P. Making open data work for civic advocacy, 2018, Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Rainey, J., Alvarez De La Vega, J., Lambton-Howard, D., Armoush, S., Bartindale, T., Hazeldine, S., Briggs, P., Olivier, P. & Montague, K., 3 Jul 2020, DIS '20: Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference. New York: ACM, p. 771–784 14
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