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Understanding the Psychology of Immersive Experiences


   Department of Psychology


About the Project

Three fully funded (stipend and fees) PhD studentship are available for UK students (Conditions may apply to non-UK students) in the area of Audience Experience across the Universities of Bath and Bristol. There will be opportunities during the PhD for secondment to our project partners. 

Background

This is an exciting opportunity to join a large collaborative team developing and evaluating the latest advances in digital production for the creative industries.

This ambitious project called MyWorld is a new five-year programme funded by the UKRI Strength in Places fund. The £46m programme brings together 30 partners from Bristol and Bath’s creative technologies sector and world-leading academic institutions, to create a unique cross-sector consortium. MyWorld will forge dynamic collaborations to progress technological innovation, deliver creative excellence, establish and operate state of the art facilities, offer skills training and drive inward investment.  http://www.myworld-creates.com/

Within MyWorld our team will be focused on measuring and evaluating audience experiences. There exists a range of methods to measure these effects on audience: interviews, surveys, physiological monitoring and measuring behaviour. The team will map out these pre-existing methods, evaluate and validate them, and then add new cutting-edge methods to this battery. We will be working over a range of experiences (TV, VR, AR, Live Theatre, etc.) and with differing types of content (drama, documentary, news). The aim is to have real impact in providing the creative industries with an easy to access toolkit to support audience understanding. The team will be based across Bath and Bristol Universities and work directly with the creative sector in the region.

The Project

Being a member of an audience, either alone or in a group, can result in a wide range of changes in psychological state including: being scared, excited, fascinated, immersed, happy and sad. The experience can also have longer term impact, including changing our attitudes, behaviour, and priorities. There are a wide range of experiences that can lead to these changes and the next 5 years will see the development of new types of experiences and the use of new technology to deliver those experiences.   

Your PhD will give you an opportunity to work in this research area with flexibility to work with us to develop a project that contributes to our broad research aims.

The MyWorld community will allow you to develop your ideas in a real-world context and evaluate their usefulness to the creative industries. 

We are very happy to shape the PhD topic to suit your particular interests but example projects might include: the development of a questionnaire to measure immersion; new methods for examining immersion using EEG and physiological measures; embodiment in VR.

The Context

Your primary base, and PhD registration, will be either in Bristol or Bath however you will have the opportunity to draw on the facilities and expertise across the two Universities.

Over the last few years the University of Bath has made substantial investments to infrastructure including multi-million pound state-of-the art facilities for the Psychology department. The department has a dedicated building, which consists of eleven labs (including an EEG lab; a cross modal lab; a VR facility and an HCI lab: the CREATE Lab where the PhD will be based). There will also be dedicated technical support for the MyWorld programme of work.

Bristol is the home to one of the largest communities of interdisciplinary vision scientist in the world, based in psychological science, engineering, biology, the arts and the medical school. There are a wide range of facilities to support this activity including eye tracking, motion capture, EEG and physiological monitoring. 2023 will see the completion of a new purpose build facility to support MyWorld which will include a state-of-the-art research cinema and VR facility.

The Person

We are seeking someone with an interest in the use of behavioural science to study complex real-world situations. You will have an undergraduate or master’s degree in a relevant discipline such as Psychology, HCI or Computer Science. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this work, applicants with a different scientific background but a strong interest in this field will also be considered.  

Preferred start date – Oct 2022

Application criteria

•   Fulfil the entrance requirements for Department for Psychology PhD.

•   Have expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Prof Danaë Stanton Fraser () or Professor Iain Gilchrist ().

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Psychology clearly stating the name of the project.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

In order to be considered for the available studentship, you must qualify as a Home student. In determining Home student status, we follow the UK government’s fee regulations and guidance from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). Further information may also be found within the university’s fee status guidance.

EU/EEA citizens who live outside the UK are unlikely to be eligible for ‘Home’ fees and funding.


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