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Understanding the impact of digital technologies and social media on craftspeople and the craft industry (Advert Reference: RDF22/ADSS/DES/HARRISON)

   Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences

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  Dr Daniel Harrison  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship in design, in the area of craft, digital technologies, social media and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), to work with Dr Daniel Harrison in the School of Design at Northumbria University. 

This PhD research will investigate the impact that technology and social media have on practice, demand and trends within the craft industry. We are particularly interested in how the community is responding to a greater use of social media for sharing bespoke crafted products and how this impacts their livelihood. Research questions that can be addressed in this project include: how creators and craftspeople share their work and are inspired by others on social media; how crafters use social media content as a product in its own right; how consumer consumption of such media drives trends and demand for crafted products; how newcomers are inspired to become crafters and how established crafters are adapting to the changes; and, any tensions that have arisen because of these changes. This PhD will directly support craftspeople by creating guidelines to make the best use of social media to support their practice and wellbeing. 

Specifically, this project will contrast an established craft field such as ceramics, with the growing field of “bicycle craft”, centring on these communities as a lens for the broader craft industry. This work will continue the supervisors’ ongoing research in this area, which has so far focused on crafts people’s use of social media for sharing their practice, products and aspects of their personal lives. Bicycle framebuilders and other craftspeople offer an interesting example to study, having grown rapidly over the past decade, particularly with a much greater general awareness through the increased use of social media by craftspeople, events such as the annual Bespoked bicycle show, and frame building courses targeted towards amateurs and existing crafters alike. Cementing the importance of this art within the crafting community, a number of “bespoke bicycle-making” craftspeople were recently featured in issue 287 of the Craft Council’s Crafts magazine. 

This PhD will take a qualitative and creative approach, using a variety of design and HCI methods, so experience of using a range of qualitative research methods would be preferable. Candidates will ideally have backgrounds in design, craft, HCI, psychology, computer science, or the social sciences, though all relevant backgrounds and experience will be considered. Please get in touch if you are interested, but don’t fit all requirements. 

The successful applicant will become part of the CoCreate research group in Northumbria School of Design, which has an international reputation for design-led research that is innovative, creative, and engaged with societal, cultural and political concerns. You will also join the growing multidisciplinary collective of HCI researchers at Northumbria University, NORTH Lab (, one of the UK’s largest and most prolific communities of HCI researchers. You will become an active member of our vibrant research community and will be supported to develop their career through publication of your research and international conference attendance. 

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr Daniel Harrison

Enquiries can be forwarded to [Email Address Removed]

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/HARRISON) 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.


• Alvarez De La Vega, J. C., Cecchinato, M., Lambton-Howard, D., & Harrison, D. (2021). Active and Passive Research through Social Media: The Case for Repurposing Reddit, Instagram and WhatsApp Features in HCI Research Practices.
• Brewster, J., Kindleysides, M., Marshall, J., Wallace, J., & Wilson, C. (2020). Making makes me feel better: Designing for wellbeing and social values. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Design4Health (Vol. 1, p. 3).
• Cecchinato, M. E., Rooksby, J., Hiniker, A., Munson, S., Lukoff, K., Ciolfi, L., Thieme, A., & Harrison, D. (2019). Designing for digital wellbeing: A research & practice agenda. In Extended abstracts of the 2019 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1-8).
• Vannucci, E., Marshall, J, Wallace, J. (2019). Enticatypes: Exploring how artefacts can entice conversation on craft values in digital making, Proceedings of RTD 2019 conference.
• Pateman, M., Harrison, D., Marshall, P., & Cecchinato, M. E. (2018). The role of aesthetics and design: wearables in situ. In Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-6).
• Harrison, D, Banks, R., Regan, T., & Grayson, M. (2017). Presenting Physical Things Digitally: New Collecting Practices. Research Through Design 2017.
• Marshall, J & Rossi, C. (2017). Making with China: Craft-based Participatory Research Methods for Investigating Shenzhen’s Maker Movement. Digital Culture & Society (DCS), Vol. 3, Issue 1/2017 – Making and Hacking, ISSN 2364-2122
• Harrison, D., Marshall, P., Bianchi-Berthouze, N., & Bird, J. (2015). Activity tracking: barriers, workarounds and customisation. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (pp. 617-621).
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