This doctoral study will be highly innovative, extending the scope of current uses of digital technology for career development. The practical work centres on development of a dialogue system utilising existing data held by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), for use by young people to engage ‘in conversation’ about their career interests, aspirations, and strengths. It will take the form of an interactive avatar with identifiable human characteristics.
In the initial stages of the research, potential applications of Machine Learning for career decision support will be explored. Thereafter innovative approaches to dialogue management will be investigated, drawing upon existing SDS data. The development of novel natural language generation approaches to career decision support will represent a move away from current static template-based interfaces to one that is more dynamic and suited to meet client needs.
Completion of the study will contribute to the careers domain through the provision of state-of-art models in dialogue management, natural language generation and information representation.
We are interested in receiving applications for the studentship on a full-time or a part-time basis. Your eligibility to apply will depend on your current level of degree qualification, prior training in advanced research methods, and your ability to meet the criteria specified below for the studentship award.
If you hold, or are nearing successful completion of, a Masters degree in a social science subject which includes 60 credits of research training, you may be eligible to apply for the fully-funded PhD programme: 3 year full-time; 5 year part-time.
If you do not hold a Masters qualification and are not currently working towards one (or the Masters degree that you hold/are working towards does not include 60 credits of research methods training), you will be required to undertake an approved Masters-level research training programme for one year before transferring to this PhD programme. This route is also fully funded, i.e. you will be funded for the approved Masters-level research training programme and for the PhD. (Note that this 1+3 arrangement is the usual route for our SDS-sponsored PhD students.)
In addition to the above, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• Hold good first degree (at least 2.1) in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or other relevant subject.
• Offer experience of Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, or Machine Learning at undergraduate level or above (e.g. you studied the topic(s) as part of a module, or in work for a final year project)
• Be interested in developing your expertise in social research methods.
• Demonstrate an interest in the application of computing in the social sciences in general (e.g. in Education, Information Science, Psychology), and to the themes of this studentship in particular.
• Have excellent communication skills (both oral and written), and be able to communicate with stakeholders from various backgrounds. +
A further desirable criterion is a good understanding of maths (algebra, statistics, probabilities, discrete maths).
Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*: https://esrc.ukri.org/skills-and-careers/doctoral-training/prospective-students/
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme, depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2020. It includes:
• An annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2019/20 rate £15,009 full-time)
• Fees at the standard home rate
• Students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year http://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/natural-language-interfaces/
Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by Monday 1st March. Interviews will take place on Friday 6th March.
All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within Edinburgh Napier University. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.