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Intelligent assistants in the workplace - exploring the interactions between people and intelligent agents (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/CIS/VASILIOU)

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C Vasiliou
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

With an abundance of technologies available on our fingertips, we encounter our interactions with each of them as one collective experience, rather than as a single-user, single-device interaction. Our experiences as users are spread across devices, personal or shared, across physical or digital tools, and over time. With intelligent technologies becoming more advanced, affordable, and pervasive, with improved capabilities and greater awareness, intelligent assistants such as Alexa and Siri can also move away from our personal space and enter a shared area, an office.

What happens when these technologies enter our lives as co-workers and co-habitats in a collective space, for work, learning or entertainment? What is the impact of an intelligent agent on group behaviour in a social setting? How does the individual or group behaviour change if the intelligent agent has a physical presence?

The project will involve the combination of Computer Science and Psychology to understand and explore how people interact with intelligent agents in a collocated workplace. More particularly, the project will:

• Explore how teams interact with intelligent agents in collaborative environments and their impact on how we use existing technologies in our workspace, taking a critical perspective on the social and cognitive implications.
• Prototype, develop and explore new designs of intelligent agents that can revolutionise collaboration and coordination within the workplace.

Depending on the candidate’s experience the project will focus more heavily on one aspect or the other.
This project is well suited to a motivated and hard-working candidate with a keen interest in human-computer interaction, user experience, collaboration spaces, group behaviour and smart technologies. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: human-computer interaction (HCI), psychology, AI and user studies. The candidate will join the NorSC Lab in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.
The principal supervisor for this project is Christina Vasiliou.

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.

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. RDF19/EE/CIS/VASILIOU) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2014). Understanding collaborative learning activities in an information ecology: A distributed cognition account. Computers in human behavior, 41, 544-553.

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., Stylianou-Georgiou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2017). A Glance into Social and Evolutionary Aspects of an Artifact Ecology for Collaborative Learning through the Lens of Distributed Cognition. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 33(8), 642-654.

Ioannou, A., Vasiliou, C., Zaphiris, P., Arh, T., Klobučar, T., & Pipan, M. (2015). Creative multimodal learning environments and blended interaction for problem-based activity in HCI education. TechTrends, 59(2), 47-56.

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2015). An artifact ecology in a nutshell: A distributed cognition perspective for collaboration and coordination. In Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 55-72). Springer.

Zaphiris, P., Loannou, A., Loizides, F., & Vasiliou, C. (2013). User experience in using surface computing for collaborative decision making. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 10(4), 297-308.

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