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AHRC-funded PhD Studentships in Arts and Design - Design subject areas

Applications are welcome in all areas of Design, including multimedia design, interaction design, illustration, animation, graphic design, and design/art hybrids, but we are particularly able to support PhD Studentship proposals in the following areas: 

Designers Programming/Generative Design

Completed and current PhDs include:

The Library of Light - a curational framework to explore light, material culture and social experience, Jo Joelson.
Architectural Scale and the Sonic Digital Realm, Ed Carter.
From Space to Interface: Augmented reality, the implications for designers, artists and curators, Liam Jefferies (MA RCA).
The Use of Generative Art as a Means to Foster Audience Engagement with Complex Concepts, Carl Gregg.
The role of computer programming within creative, digital design, Andrew Richardson.
Cross-Cultural Effects on Development of Tattoo Creative Industries, Adam McDade (NPIF with Triplesix Studios)

Research Centres in Design at Sunderland include Design4Science, and International Research Centre for Calligraphy (IRCC). In 2005 a public engagement Society Award of £223,000 from the Wellcome Trust enabled the establishment of Design for Science, a project which looked at Visual Communication in relation to Molecular Biology. Wheeler curated a large travelling exhibition, which was seen in Cambridge, Manchester, Sunderland, the Nobel Museum Stockholm, the Medical Museion Copenhagen and the University of Porto, Portugal. This was reviewed favourably by the journal Nature and featured on the Swedish television equivalent of BBC2. Current research explores the public’s perception and understanding of viruses and their representation. "Bad News Wrapped in Protein", curated by Shirley Wheeler, opened at St. Johns College, Oxford and toured UK and Europe.

Andrew Richardson’s work using programming code (often Open Source) to make interactive works including: Twitter Gospels, Northern Design Festival 2013 - a data visualisation of the four gospel texts using Twitter data to generate the decorative lettering and typography; and Pixel Ware, Oriental Museum, Durham 2012 - an interactive table in which the Chinese patterns and symbol from the museum’s collection, are used to create digitally generative surface designs projected onto blank ceramic objects on the table surface. 

Curating Design/Open Source Curating

Completed and current PhDs include:

Blockchain, Audiences and Music Distribution, Simeon Soden (NPIF with Sage Gateshead)

How could the tactical affects of ‘world-building’ in art and design, inform critical curatorial practice? Dani Admiss (MA Curating Design, Kingston, former Assistant Curator on Digital Revolution, Barbican).

Collaborations Between Art and Digital Sectors, Suzy O'Hara (curator and producer including Dear Angel, Thinking Digital Art).

Models Of Open Source Production Compared To Participative Systems in New Media Art, Dominic Smith (now Digital Media Projects Manager for Tyneside Cinema).

Doctoral researchers with CRUMB have been supervised across art, design and IT areas in order to reflect the cross-disciplinary nature of new media. The synergies and tensions between art and design production methods have been particularly examined. Because interactive and participatory practices are important to new media, the methods of ‘open source’ and collaborative production are also being explored through practice.  Issues of new media databases, collecting, archiving, and documentation are also key, including the book New Collecting (Ashgate, 2014). Students have been involved in programming professional curating events at the highest international level, including Commissioning and Collecting Variable Media at BALTIC with Contemporary Art Society, and Professional Development Course in London 2014, which integrates design curation issues. 

The CRUMB website shares the research with professionals and academics, including popular interviews, and the lively online discussion list has over 1500 international subscribers. Researchers have been invited to speak at Tate, V&A, Stedlijk Museum, and the University of Technology Sydney. CRUMB exhibitions including Database Imaginary (Banff Centre), and Serious Games (Laing/Barbican) aim to match new curatorial methods to new media behaviours.  CRUMB has successfully realised projects through research partnerships with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Eyebeam (New York); Caitlin Jones – former Guggenheim New York Archivist and Curator. At the University, CRUMB works across many faculties and has collaborated with research areas including North East Photography Network, Design for Science, and WALK (see also Digital Art/Curating Studentships).


Chinese Influences on Western Glass Jewellery Design, Jiang Ting.

Looking through glass: The manipulation of light through digital design and manufacture in studio glass practice, Erin Dickson.

The successful candidate will join a unique Glass and Ceramics department, which is the largest in Europe and based in the National Glass Centre, Sunderland. We have world-leading and internationally significant practice-led research outputs in glass and ceramics and a lively cohort of c30 PhD students from the UK and abroad. We welcome glass and/or ceramic research proposals in practice and/or theory. Our supervisors are very experienced and all leading professionals in the field. The department works comfortably across a span of fine art, crafts, design, material technology, and historical research. We offer excellent facilities for glass and ceramics and you will work in a supportive creative community and be encouraged to become nationally, even internationally, networked during your time on the course.

Research in Glass at the University of Sunderland is largely concentrated within the Institute for International Research in Glass. This research involves the creation of new artworks in glass, techniques and approaches to creative glass making, models of practice in terms of methods and content for glass, and contextual and historical information on glass.


Design at Sunderland are highly experienced, and include cross-disciplinary research staff:

Dr Neil Ewins (Design histories and theory)
Professor Dr Lynne Hall (Digital innovation, non-intrusive user experience evaluation)
Professor Dr Beryl Graham (Curating new media art and design)
Dr Manny Ling (Cross-cultural design, calligraphy and digital media)
Professor Andrew Livingstone (Ceramics, art)
Dr Carol McKay (Social networks and photography, health and medicine)
Dr Alex Moschovi (Museology, archives, collections, photography)
Professor Kevin Petrie (Glass, drawing)
Colin Rennie (Glass, digital)
Dr Jeffrey Sarmiento (Glass, cultures, language and layering)
Dr Cate Watkinson (Architectural glass)


Prospective students can informally discuss research proposals in advance of application with:
Professor Beryl Graham, Tel: +44 (0) 191 515 2896. Email beryl.graham@sunderland.ac.uk.