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  Developing new approaches to participatory design for advanced care technologies in later life

   School of Informatics

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  Prof John Vines, Prof Katie Brittain, Dr Cara Wilson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Please ensure you check the eligibility criteria before applying to this project.

The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is a new, multi-disciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”.

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a novel, structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.



To develop, test and validate new methods for directly involving older adults in the design of new data-driven home care services underpinned by AI. 


  • Conduct systematic analysis and catalogue examples of participatory and co-design methods for data-driven technologies. 
  • Develop new participatory methods to support older adults in exploring the predictive qualities of data-driven, AI-based, technologies. 
  • Evaluate these novel methods in a real-world case study as part of the Advanced Care Research Centre. 
  • Package new methods as a design toolkit for technologists and service providers to use in citizen and patient co-creation activities. 


The central tenet of participatory design is to ensure those affected by the introduction of a new technologies have a direct involvement in their design. However, the complexity of data-driven technologies and the assumed “black box” nature of algorithmic systems poses great challenges for meaningful involvement of users in design decisions. As such technologies get integrated into home care, the need for meaningful user involvement is more important than ever to ensure new services are acceptable to those in receipt of care. This project will develop a range of new methods to enable older adults to contribute directly to the design of new data-driven, AI-enabled, home care services, to ensure such services are accepted, valued and trusted. 


We are looking for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in one of the following fields: product design, human-computer interaction, user experience design, service design, co-design. Professional experience is desirable, as is some experience of working with end-users in design projects.

We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 

You must read How to apply prior to application

Please Apply here

Computer Science (8) Creative Arts & Design (9)

Funding Notes

PhDs are funded with an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period.
The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 4 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.
It is essential to read the How to Apply section of our website before you apply:
Please apply here:


Vines, J., Clarke, R., Wright, P., McCarthy, J., and Olivier, P. 2013. Configuring participation: On how we involve people in design. In: Proc. Of ACM CHI 2013, pp. 429-438.
Empathy, participatory design and people with dementia. Lindsay, S., Brittain, K., Jackson, D., Ladha, C., Ladha, K., and Olivier, P. 2012. In: Proc. Of ACM CHI 2012, pp. 512-530.

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