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Designing for Visitors Experience and Service in The Digitally Mature Museum (Advert Reference: RDF22/ADSS/DES/MASON)

   Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences

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  Dr M Mason  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In the last decade, museums have increasingly shifted toward practices that aim to enhance the museum visit through hybrid digital/physical experiences and service-based experience, as well as museum strategies. This shift reflects the tendency of digital to become normalized and embedded into many (if not all) aspects of museum practices, services, and strategies. Scholars describe this condition with the terms of the post-digital museum or the digitally mature museum (Parry 2013). This PhD design research takes a digital mature perspective that does not see the visitor interacting with the museum through a technology (at least, in first instance) but, instead, through an experience. It is the experience that mediates the relationships between visitors and museums; and enhancing human experience is at the heart of developing the digitally mature museum. A critical aspect is that design practices that are human-centred can establish insights and perspectives about the visitor experience and how this might be augmented by the interplay of physical, digital, and organisational dimensions. This is a more holistic approach to the design of digital-enhanced experiences. This PhD student will undertake Research through Design that is driven by a human-centred paradigm to the design of visitor experience and services. Human-centred design allows to see and think the design of a digital product (e.g. a mobile app; AR interface; VR environment) within a wider context as, today, it is increasingly important for design to be called upon to seamlessly integrate digital elements with human needs, services, and organisation’s strategies in more refined and nuanced ways. This design research will harness human-centred design for the creation and study of better visitor experiences and services, enhanced by digital technology. In particular, this research welcomes studies that will investigate the design of digital media within the mature museum context, for example: the design of AR- and VR-enhanced visitor experience; and online and social media experience. In general, this research is open to studies aiming to shed light on how multimodal, multi-sensory, augmented, connected and other forms of digital-enhanced experience and services can be designed to facilitate positive visitor experience and engagement as well as participation and collaboration between communities and museums. Furthermore, it welcomes ideas for research projects that aim to explore new frontiers of digital heritage design in which, for example, design will both shape and be shaped by the integration of Artificial Intelligence. The successful applicant will be supervised by Dr Marco Mason ( ) who will guide, support, and mentor by making his international experience in leading universities available to the doctoral student. In addition, the PhD research will benefit from a well-established network Dr Mason has created with a compelling set of leaders such as, for example: Sector Support Organisations (e.g. Culture24; GEM); museums (e.g. Cambridge University Museums, Derby Museums, and Tyne-Wear-Archives-Museums); academics (e.g. School of Museum Studies Leicester; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Pratt Institute NYC; Polytechnic Milan; and Goteborg University). These established partnerships will not only facilitate the research itself, but will also offer an invaluable opportunity for future career ambitions (post-doctorate). He has been Marie Skłodowska Curie fellow/principal investigator on two major EU projects (FP7; H2020). He is currently Principal Investigator of an AHRC project. He will be keen to Page 2 provide training to PhD researchers aiming to apply for EU/UK funding opportunities during and/or at the end of their doctorate.

The Principal Supervisor for this project is dr Marco Mason

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. RDF22/ADSS/DES/MASON) 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.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project (optional)
On July 2021, I signed a contract for a book titled “Museums and Digital Design Practices: A new critical conversation” with Routledge. I am now in the process of writing the book. Publication date, early month of 2023.
Peer-reviewed articles
Mason, Marco (1st author) and Vavoula Giasemi, (2021). “Digital Cultural Heritage Design Practice: A Conceptual Framework.” The Design Journal: Int. Journal for All Aspects of Design.
Mason, Marco, 2020. “The Elements of Visitor Experience in Post-Digital Museum Design.” The International Journal of Design Principles & Practices (Annual Review)
Vavoula, Giasemi and Mason, Mason, 2017. “Digital Exhibition Design: Boundary Crossing, Intermediary Design Deliverables, and Processes of Consent.” The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 32(3), 251-271.
Mason, Marco, 2016. “The MIT museum glassware prototype: visitor experience exploration for designing smart glasses.” Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), 9(3), 1-28.
Mason, Mason. 2015. “Prototyping and Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Digital Media Design Practice for Museums.” The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 30(5), 394-426.
Book chapters Mason, Marco, 2018. Design-driven Innovation, in “Museum Thresholds: The Design and Media of Arrival” (eds.) Parry, R. Page, R. Moseley, A. Routledge. 58-72.
Mason, Mason, 2017. Visitor Experience Design, in “The Manual of Digital Museum Planning”, Ali Hossaini (ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, MA, USA – Lord Cultural Resources (LCR).
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