Studentship Vacancies

Full-time PhD Studentships

Knowledge Media Institute (KMi)
£14,553 per year plus fee bursary, Ref: 10280
Based in Milton Keynes

The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) is home to internationally recognised researchers in semantic technologies, educational multimedia, collaboration technologies, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and human-computer interaction. KMi offers students an intellectually challenging environment with exceptional research and computer facilities.

We are currently offering two fully-funded studentships commencing October 2017. Applications are invited from UK, EU and international students for full-time, 3-year study on the following PhD topics. For further information, contact details are provided for each topic. We strongly recommend that you contact the researcher associated with the topic to discuss your interest prior to writing your proposal.

Please make a choice of one from these following topics:

  • Misinformation detection and prediction on social media. This PhD project will involve developing computational methods for analysing misinformation content, and identifying and predicting their flow dynamics.
    Contact Harith Alani.
  • Collaboratively Generating Meaningful Actionable Insights from Big Data Sources. Human judgement and sensemaking is key to understanding which data patterns and insights emerging from data mining are really meaningful and actionable. Research shows that collectives often outperform humans in many complex tasks, hence our question: Can crowds outperform domain experts in data science analysis? Building on research on Data Science and Collective Intelligence this PhD project aims at studying and developing a collaborative platform to support the human sensemaking process of mining big data.
    Contact Anna De Liddo.
  • The Crisis of Democracies and the Challenge of Making Democratic Decisions in Large Groups. Political disengagement, community protests and citizens' discontent toward the government are continuous signs of the failure of our democracies. People ask for new ways to take active part to the decision making processes regarding their cities and government, and they ask for this processes to be truly transparent and democratic. Starting from a theoretical analysis on the main shortcomings of existing collaborative decision making processes and technologies, this PhD project will investigate and propose new methods and tools to facilitate consensus building and democratic decision-making in large-scale deliberation contexts.
    Contact Anna De Liddo.
  • Understanding and forecasting the spreading of research concepts. The research will focus on the development of new algorithms which can automatically identify research concepts (e.g., technologies, approaches, theories, methods, models) in the literature and analyse how these concepts, which emerge in a particular research community (e.g., machine learning), are adopted by other communities (e.g., social science). The aim here is to be able to learn patterns of 'research concept migration', both to improve our understanding of the transmission of scientific ideas and also to enable the implementation of new systems able to alert researchers to potential interesting developments in other areas.
    Contact Enrico Motta or Francesco Osborne.
  • Exploratory search in large heterogenous data hubs. Exploratory search solutions have so far primarily focused on supporting users in locating and making sense of information in large homogeneous repositories. With the emergence of large scale data portals, such as the MK Data Hub, the need has arisen for novel solutions effectively supporting users in exploring large heterogenous repositories, comprising thousands of different (but potentially related) data sets. This research will require the design and development of novel exploratory solutions, which will comprise not only new user interface paradigms but also novel intelligent data aggregation and abstraction techniques to facilitate retrieval and sensemaking.
    Contact Enrico Motta or Francesco Osborne.
  • Visual Food Log Analysis. To explore boundaries and limits of automated analysis of personal visual food logs. This project tries to carry out as much analysis as possible from visual food logs with little to no manual interference.
    Contact Stefan Rueger.
  • Realtime shape analysis. This project researches and implements a state of the art shape search engine based on recently developed shape feature vectors. With this you can for example build a video search engine for "The Simpsons"; search for shapes in plant, butterfly or design databases; or carry out live analysis on a video of fingers playing the piano.
    Contact Stefan Rueger.
  • Large-scale real-time aggregation and synchronization of web & knowledge resources. This PhD will look into existing standards and protocols for web & knowledge resource synchronization, will understand their limitations at both the provider and consumer side, and will develop, test and profile new or enhance existing protocols for efficient real-time synchronization of these resources.
    Contact Petr Knoth.
  • Identifying and predicting research & innovation. This PhD will work with millions of research publications, patents, social network data and other datasets to develop new algorithms for identifying, analysing and predicting emerging research areas and innovations.
    Contact Petr Knoth.
  • Discovering facts to support claims. With the rise of fake and misleading news, it is becoming harder for people to understand which facts can and which cannot be trusted. The goal of this PhD is to develop new methods to automatically discover evidence to support or refute claims.
    Contact Zdenek Zdrahal.
  • Reproducibility of text and data mining workflows. Reproducibility, i.e. the ability of an entire experiment or study to be rerun obtaining the same results, is one of the key challenges scientists are facing today, with only a minority of research studies being reproducible. This PhD will analyse the limitations of existing methodologies, frameworks and workflow engines, and will aim to advance the state-of-the-art in the area of developing reproducible text and data mining workflows.
    Contact Zdenek Zdrahal.
  • Open Science Workflows. This topic will focus on the applicability of Open Science in various scientific subject fields and explore the challenges in adopting open scientific practices, including analysis of open science workflows. The applicant is expected to investigate existing Open Science workflows and work towards the creation of a workflow prototype.
    Contact Nancy Pontika.
  • Analysing Open Science Impact. Recently a growing number of research funders have extended their assessment research criteria from solely publication's impact to the wider societal impact. The applicant is expected to investigate the impact of Open Science publications and demonstrate it using various Open Science processes/methodologies.
    Contact Nancy Pontika.
  • Blockchains and Higher Education. Applying blockchains (the technology which underpins the crypto-currency Bitcoin) within higher educational settings: as a new way of accrediting learning; for storing collaboratively created ePortfolios; developing an educational currency to support disruptive learning and teaching processes.
    Contact John Domingue.
  • Interactive live webcasting for distance learning. Distance learning involves embedding the use of both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools within modules as a means for supporting students' engagement in group learning activities. A studentship in this area could study the application of synchronous technologies within OU modules, develop further applications and/or evaluate the impact of these technologies on the student experience.
    Contact Trevor Collins.
  • Technology enhanced fieldwork learning. Practical science fieldwork provides authentic learning opportunities that enable students to apply their learning and develop field skills, as well as effective teamwork skills that improve employability. A studentship in this area could focus on the design and development of activities or technologies and/or the evaluation of technology enhanced field courses.
    Contact Trevor Collins.
  • Using semantic and/or mobile technologies to support heritage interpretation and storytelling. Using technology to assist citizens or heritage researchers in constructing and sharing interpretations of digital or physical cultural artefacts.
    Contact Paul Mulholland.

You will have a first or upper second class degree from a UK university or equivalent and ideally a relevant Master's degree. Unless from a majority English-speaking country, non-EEA applicants will require an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6 in each element of Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. IELTS Certificates are valid for a period of 2-years.

Closing Date: 10 April 2017.

Interviews: To be advised

For detailed information and how to apply call the Recruitment Co-ordinator on +44 (0)1908 654774 or email quoting the reference number.

Equal Opportunity is University Policy

How to apply

It is strongly recommended that applicants contact the named contact point for the project of interest to get more information about the project in question. It is also important to read the online prospectus before downloading and completing the 10-page MPhil/PhD application form.

Applications should be sent by email to (please CC when submitting applications) and should include a covering letter, MPhil/PhD application form, a research proposal (a maximum of 2,000 words), and a full CV, giving contact details for two academic referees.

All applicants must have a first or upper second class degree from a UK university or the overseas equivalent and ideally a relevant Masters degree. Unless from a majority English-speaking country, non-EEA applicants will require an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6 in each element of Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. IELTS Certificates are valid for a period of 2-years.


Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1908 653800

Fax: +44 (0)1908 653169

Email: KMi Support


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