Lack of emotional companionship, loneliness and boredom are experienced by many older people, negatively impacting their health and wellbeing. Social robots and smart speakers are used in providing companionship but their effects are yet to be rigorously evaluated. This study will focus on technology-enabled emotional companionship for eldercare and investigate what products and functions are available, how they are perceived and received by target users, what lessons can be learned and what aspects may be improved.
Proposals on utilising technology to provide user-centred emotional companionship will be developed, with the aim to provide a more effective approach to eldercare which will enhance older people’s wellbeing.
Candidates with a design/psychology/engineering background are welcome, preferably with a masters degree already.
Research activities within the Brunel Design School cover a wide-ranging and diverse field of topics. Academic staff combine human-centred design for autonomous vehicles, ageing demographics and healthcare systems through incorporating sustainability in design. From developing cleaner electronics, design for 3D and 4D printing, and incorporating social responsibility, to using innovative design for creative industries and information architecture, our research paves the way for innovative solutions.
Doctoral research programmes (PhDs) take a proud place in the world-class research environment and community at Brunel. PhD students are recognised and valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their departments and a key component of the university's overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.
A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, with intakes starting in January, April or October.
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1) or an international equivalent. A Masters degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.
Find out how to apply for a PhD at Brunel
Excellent research support and training
The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.
Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students.
Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.
Find out more: Brunel Library
You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.