EPSCR/BBC Studentship

Designing for All: Trust and Inequalities in the Context of Data-driven Media



The University of Sheffield and BBC R&D are offering a 4-year full-time EPSRC/BBC funded PhD studentship. The successful applicant will research the challenge of delivering equitable provision of future media in the context of growing digital inequalities.

Qualification: PhD

Location: University of Sheffield and BBC R & D (Media City, Salford & Central London)

Stipend: £19,500 per year

Additional Benefits: A generous research support budget, an enhanced stipend, travel and accommodation costs between research bases.

Duration: 4 years, Full time (Sept 2022 start)


Data-centric technologies, including AI, are at the centre of the BBC technology and innovation plan and will transform audiences’ experiences in the future. However, not everyone has equal access, or the same knowledge or capacity to engage and to benefit, and people who are excluded are often already experiencing social, cultural and economic marginalisation. As part of the BBC’s commitment to universality, this PhD will contribute to understanding digital inclusion in a data-driven society, through empirical research into underserved audiences’ experiences of and trust in data-driven media and what good data uses look like for them.

The student will be supervised by Professor Helen Kennedy at the University of Sheffield  and Dr Rhianne Jones from BBC R&D (with bases in Salford’s Media City and Central London).

The studentship is part of a wider multidisciplinary cohort of four industrial PhD projects. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to research and develop processes, tools and technologies to ensure emerging data-driven digital media technologies are inclusive and socially sustainable, so that BBC teams and wider stakeholders can better respond to the needs of marginalised and underserved audiences.

The student will have the opportunity to conduct research at the BBC, and to collaborate with the other students and universities in the cohort. In addition to PhD fees and a generous enhanced stipend, the studentship funding also covers travel, research costs and equipment. Information about the Designing For All programme can be found in this BBC R&D blogpost.

You can also find more information here.

Prior experience and key attributes:

By the start date, the successful applicant for the studentship should have a first class or high upper second class honours degree and preferably a Masters qualification or comparable professional experience.

●      First or upper second class honours degree or equivalent

●      Masters degree (or equivalent experience) in a relevant area

●      Interest in the role and impact of media technology in society

●      Interest in one or more of the following: social/digital inequalities, the role of public service media in society, digital media and data-driven change.

●      Desire to create technical, practical or policy interventions that ensure socially beneficial outcomes

●      Ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a research group

●      Willingness to engage with BBC context and a broad range of stakeholders and audiences to disseminate the research

●      Ability and willingness to travel between the BBC and University site, as required

How to Apply:

Applications should be submitted through the University of Sheffield Postgraduate Application System

Applications should be accompanied by:

●      A CV, certified copies of degree certificates and transcripts, details of two referees and proof of eligibility (e.g. a copy of your passport/ residence permit

●      A personal statement of no more than two pages describing:

        - Your research interests, a central question for this project and an indicative methodology

        - Your experience to date that makes you suitable for this studentship, and what you would learn through this opportunity

        - The impact you hope to make through working with us on this project.

For queries about the application process:

Please contact scs-pgr@sheffield.ac.uk

For further Information about the PhD:

Please contact Professor Helen Kennedy (h.kennedy@sheffield.ac.uk) or Dr Rhianne Jones (Rhia.Jones@bbc.co.uk).


●      Closing date for applications: 11th May 2022

●      Interviews will take place in May 2022

●      Start date: September 2022

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