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Impact of Design in Co-creative Knowledge Exchange (Advert Reference: RDF22/ADSS/DES/PARKINSON)

   Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences

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  Dr David Parkinson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Responsible, design-led research and practice seeks to bring about positive change in a given situation. In doing so academic researchers employ a range of design practice methods, tools and techniques in conducting their research with external partners; it could be argued that in many cases they simultaneously research for design, through design and into design (Frayling, 1993). 

The value and impact of research beyond HE and the development of disciplinary knowledge can be significant. Through different forms of Knowledge Exchange (KE), it contributes to a wider agenda where research that delivers social and/or economic impact is highly valued and needed.  

Research England defines Knowledge Exchange as: 

‘Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), such as universities, teach students and undertake research that creates new and useful knowledge. But they also work with many different types of partners to ensure that this knowledge can be used for the benefit of the economy and society - this is known as knowledge exchange (Sigal, 2021). The key common element is that information and expertise is exchanged with businesses, society and/or the economy (Vitae, 2021).” 

Collaborative design-led research can be considered as a ‘call to action’ in the recovery, growth and well-being of society and the economy post-pandemic. Such research, conducted using participatory and co-creative approaches, working in partnership with external organisations, can concurrently generate value and impact for those organisations (in the form of new knowledge, understanding for and about their situation) as well as new knowledge and understanding about the methods, tools and techniques of design. We might call this design-facilitated approach ‘Co-created Knowledge Exchange’ 

When students are involved in this research, a truly integrated academic practice of education, research and the creation and exchange of new knowledge occurs. What is not fully understood is the catalytic effect this can have in the co-creation and application of that new knowledge. 

Whilst the concept of Integrated Academic Practice has been briefly explored (Bailey and Smith, 2016), the role and value that an integrated approach can offer in delivering impact-focused, co-creative knowledge-exchange by design is not fully understood. 

This understanding and tangible identification of KE is important for institutions seeking to cement their role as anchor organisations and play an important part in the health and wealth of their region and communities. 

Working closely with two on-going action research programmes, Creative Fuse North East and the National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange, this study seeks to reveal the ways in which an integrated approach to design-led, co-creative knowledge exchange can generate impact for organisations; what we can learn from this to inform regional and national knowledge exchange programmes and policy; and to develop a tangible understanding of the creation of new knowledge, where it occurs, it’s application and impact on all stakeholders. 

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr David Parkinson.

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/PARKSINON) 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.


Bailey, M. (2021) Supporting Knowledge Creation in Design-Led Multidisciplinary Education, Doctoral Thesis

Bailey, M. and Spencer, N. (2019) ‘The Why and How of Design-led Multidisciplinary Innovation Education: Context and Curriculum’, The International Journal of Design Education, 13 (4), pp. 89–109.

Bailey, M. and Smith, N. (2016) ‘Making it Work; Integrated Academic Practice’ in E. Boya (ed.) Proceedings of 20th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference; Inflection Point: Design Research Meets Design Practice. Boston: The Design Management Institute, pp. 2346–2363

Bailey, M., Aftab, M. And Smith, N. (2015) ‘Hidden Value-Towards an Understanding of the Full Value and Impact of Engaging Students in User-Led Research and Innovation Projects Between Universities and Companies’ in Bohemia, E. (ed.) Volume 2 Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers.  Aalto: Aalto University, pp. 290–307
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