Sheffield Hallam Launches PhD Studentship Schemes: ‘Come and join us!’ Doctoral Researchers in C3RI

C3RI Impact Blog background. Keith Wilson, Calendar. Installation at MAC Belfast.

Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) has recently launched PhD Studentship Schemes for 2018. C3RI welcomes applicants from all aspects of cultural, communication and computing research, to work with us in our interdisciplinary research institute.

Our research programme has over eighty research students. While researchers sit within their disciplinary field, the Institute offers the opportunity to make connections between the research traditions of art, design and media production, communication studies, PR, journalism, computing and human computer interaction.

In this post Postgraduate Research Tutor, Dr Becky Shaw, introduces the C3RI and provides some background for those considering joining us to undertake doctoral research.


Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)

Since 2013, SHU has taken part in the national Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) which invites students to rate the quality of their experience in relation to the themes of supervision, resources, research culture, progress and assessment, rights and responsibilities, research skills, professional development and their access to a range of development opportunities.

Analysis of SHU to Sector PRES 2017 performance by REF subject shows that SHU Art & Design PhD student experience scores are sector leading.  This is a reflection of the quality of student support from the C3RI Postgraduate (PGR) team and the success of our recruitment strategies in attracting the highest quality students. We are very proud of the dedication of our research supervisors and the rich research environment, culture and opportunities generated by the PhD programme in C3RI.

Portraits. Foundling Museum. Rachel Emily Taylor. 2016.

Portraits. Foundling Museum. Rachel Emily Taylor. 2016.

Our projects
A diagram of visualising mathematical functions with hexagons as integers, circles as functions and rectangles as outputs

Image by Dr Chris Roast (Computing, SHU)

C3RI research projects often involve intimate focus on specific local, national and international contexts, at the same time as seeking to generate global impact. Our research students are often involved in collaborations with different external contexts and businesses, or sitting within Knowledge Transfer partnerships between research staff and industrial partners.

Our doctoral researchers work with organisations as varied as Sheffield Robotics, the Foundling Museum, the Max Planck Institute, the Hallamshire Hospital, William Morris Gallery, S1 Artspace Park Hill, Bishops House, the Freetown of Christiania, the Stasi Museum Berlin, Site Gallery, the British Museum and many others. Research students also work within our specialist research centres: Design Futures, Lab4Living, and Centric. Our supervision teams frequently include staff from across the University, including from creative writing and architecture. Our doctoral community is incredibly varied- some examples of our projects can be found in this Impact blog.

Image from Stories from The East: The Grice Ivories, Exhibition at Weston Park, Sheffield

Stories from The East: The Grice Ivories, Exhibition at Weston Park, Sheffield

Some C3RI PhD students are part of the AHRC funded Heritage Consortium, a group of six Northern Universities who share the training and supervision of heritage researchers. Heritage researchers come from many disciplines and use innovate methods to explore how the past is shaped by the present. Our heritage researchers offer a range of innovative projects including using art to find the ‘historic child’ in a museum, exploring how the experience of bus travel might challenge transport museums, and questioning how 3D scanning and printing technologies are challenging fundamental aspects of museums. Some C3RI PhD students are also part of the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities – a similar network of supervision that provides an additional ‘humanities’ context for our researchers.

Funding and support

Our research is supported by UK research councils, the European Union, commercial clients, charitable bodies and government as well as our own Vice Chancellor scholarships and our innovative Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) scholarships.

Diane A Rodgers, Wyrd presentation 2, 2017

DA Rodgers. 2017.

A GTA scholarship offers training and development in HE level teaching alongside the programme of PhD research. Applicants considering this scheme must demonstrate a desire and commitment to develop their teaching skills, alongside research potential and a high quality proposal that is relevant to C3RI. GTA students are also encouraged and supported to work towards HEA recognition at Associate Fellow level. There have been a number of examples of GTA candidates who have made an innovative, lasting, positive impact on the way courses have developed. Ultimately the scheme offers a structured way to bring research and teaching together, and to form a dynamic space between departments and research centres.

Training and development

We take our researchers’ development seriously.  Within C3RI we offer career analysis and development strategies along with a rich University-wide and specialist training programme. In addition we can offer a range of means of acquiring HEI teaching experience.

Method 2017 audience

Method 2017 audience

The Doctoral School at Sheffield Hallam offers a comprehensive research skills training programme whilst in C3RI we can provide specific training to develop the particular research skills needed by our doctoral students.


One aspect of this training is the C3RI-led Postgraduate Conference on the theme of ‘Method’. This innovative format places a discussion of research practice and process at the heart of the conference programme (rather than focussing on ‘results’ and ‘outcomes’). ‘Method’ supports students in developing an approach to articulating their research method/s, which is a fundamental assessment requirement at Doctoral level. From 2018, we will alternate the conference theme of ‘Method’ with ‘Impact’, inviting students to engage with the significance and context of their research inquiry and audiences for their research.

Method Conference flyer [cropped]

Method Conference

Our doctoral students take part in (as audience and presenters) the C3RI research seminars, discussing new research with research staff, and building links between staff research and their own. Communications researchers have recently instigated a series of seminars focused on visual research methods, drawing together communications, computing and art and design research in new ways. Research students are encouraged to be proactive in building the research culture they need – so students themselves design and offer seminars. The University offers small grants for students to develop their own training, and our students have used these funds very effectively leading a number of internal and publicly accessible events.

Study space

Our students are offered a number of dedicated PGR study spaces. Communication and Computing students have a shared office in the ‘science park’, Art and Design students have a designated studio at S1Artspace in the iconic Park Hill flats.

Composite image of S1 Artspace logo and Park Hill Plinths image by India Hobson

Composite image of S1 Artspace logo and Park Hill Plinths image by India Hobson

The studio at S1Artspace is run as a collaborative community and used for seminars, events, temporary exhibiting and the occasional party. The studio is situated facing the Park Hill sculpture park, offering a degree of visibility and the opportunity for our PhDs to consider themselves part of the residential ‘every day’ as well as being part of the professional community of artists based at S1. We work closely with S1 and last year instigated a doctoral project focused on their new sculpture garden.



We encourage our doctoral community to be as outward facing as possible, and our students regularly deliver conference papers at some of the most respected professional conferences in their fields. Our art and design students exhibit or screen their work widely, extending the national and international dissemination of their work.

Our advertising campaign for new PhD researchers runs from December to February 2018. The deadline for studentship applications is 12 noon on 1 February 2018. Further details can be found on the Sheffield Hallam University website