Now Closed. QNRF Funded PhD Studentship

Note: This Studentship is no longer available

QNRF Funded PhD Studentship: Multisensory Technologies for Inclusive Social Play Between Autistic and Neuro-typically Developing Children


We are seeking a person with an interest in developing new technologies to support social play, learning and inclusion for autistic and neuro-typically developing children in informal and formal mainstream educational settings. The ideal person would have an undergraduate and a Master’s degree or equivalent experience in a relevant discipline such as Computer Science, Education, or Social Science and would be interested in using participatory and co-design methods. They will have a strong background in technology prototype development and evaluation, as well as a critical understanding of disability. Experience in educational settings or with learning technologies and experience working with children, disability, or minority populations as well as demonstrated capability for research (e.g. through publication) are particularly desirable.


How can multisensory and tangible technology help support inclusive social play between autistic and euro-typically developing children in formal and informal education settings? What are the impact of cultural differences on this sort of technological provisions? T

These are the main research questions that drive a 3-year collaborative project between the University of Bristol in the UK, and Hamed Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, together with partners from user groups representative across the two countries. As part of this project, we are advertising a PhD studentship funded by the Qatar National Research Fund. The PhD candidate will develop a framework for inclusive social play in education and then design, develop and evaluate multisensory tangible technologies that explore a wider range of sensory modalities in the design of support for this collaborative play for autistic and non-autistic children. The research will utilize a participatory, co-design methodology, involving children, caregivers, educators and other professionals to support the design, prototype development, and evaluation processes. The PhD candidate will lead this process in Bristol: working with participants to co-design and develop a tangible multisensory interface using state-of-the-art technologies, such as sensors, distributed digital objects, and geocaching.


In recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of this project, the studentship would be jointly supervised between Dr Oussama Metatla from the Department of Computer Science and Dr Alison Oldfield in the School of Education. The Department of Computer Science is an international centre of excellence in the foundations and applications of computing, ranked 4th in the UK for research intensity by the 2014 REF. It houses the Bristol Interaction Group (BIG), which is a world leader in Human-Computer Interaction. BIG has a long and rich tradition at the forefront of building novel interactive devices, deploying new forms of interactions and evaluation in everyday settings. As well as HCI, the Department is home to world-leading expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science, to EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Interactive AI and Digital Health and Care, and further benefits from a close association with neighbouring research groups in Vision and Robotics. The School of Education is globally renowned for its ambitious, interdisciplinary educational research that addresses national and international priorities on the themes of environmental, social and epistemic justice. The School is ranked in the top five in the UK for research excellence and each year guides over 1,000 students from more than 70 different countries in teacher training, undergraduate, masters’ and doctoral programmes. The University is also part of South West Doctoral Training Partnership and Bristol Doctoral College, which offer professional development and training courses for doctoral students. The University of Bristol is a leading institution among the UK’s Russell Group Universities, a member of the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and is regularly placed among the top-ranking institutions in global league tables.  Bristol is a friendly, green city with a rich and lively cultural scene and has consistently been voted one of the best places to live in the UK.


The ideal start date for this PhD is September/October 2021, or January 2022 and will be funded over 3 years. The award covers a fees/stipend (for UK home-based students) or fees only/no stipend for international students. Funding also includes a generous budget for consumables, travel and subsistence.


The studentship is open to anyone fiting the above candidate requirements 

How to apply: 

In the first instance, please contact Dr Oussama Metatla or Dr Alison Oldfield including a full CV, a cover letter and any relevant details, e.g. publications, portfolio. Contacts: Dr Oussama Metatla, and Dr Alison Oldfield, Selected candidates will then be invited to submit a full application through the University of Bristol’s application system