Friday, 28 March 2014

Fully funded studentship in data visualisation (AHRC)

The Royal College of Art and The National Archives in London are jointly offering one fully funded PhD studentship (full time for three years) to begin late September 2014.

Studentship (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award)
Visualising historic time to integrate data across multiple datasets

The School of Design, Royal College of Art (RCA) and The National Archives (TNA) in London are seeking applications for one fully funded Thames Consortium Studentship. Funded by AHRC, the three year PhD research programme will be supervised jointly by the RCA ( and TNA ( The studentship begins in late September 2014.

Deadline for applications: midnight (UK time) 28 April 2014. Interviews likely to be week beginning 26 May.

More information here: 

The research
You will undertake a PhD on the visualisation of archive data with particular emphasis on time-wise interactive visualisations such as timelines and other chronographics. The research is intended to break new ground in representing multiple datasets. We see this as a problem of design, technology, and historiography, where data visualisation and interactivity hold the key to making sense of large data sets. This research builds on the achievements of an existing PhD project at the RCA which has already produced important advances for partners in museums and archives, disseminated through practical demonstrations, conference presentations and papers.

This project complements the AHRC-funded Big Data project ‘Traces through Time’ led by TNA in partnership with the Institute of Historical Research, King's College London, Brighton University and the University of Leiden, to identify and link individuals across large historical datasets spanning a wide timeframe. A key output of that project will be the identification of relationships between individuals in different datasets across time, including the ‘fuzziness’ and varying levels of confidence that are a feature of historical data.

The research will be jointly supervised by Dr Stephen Boyd Davis, Research Leader in the School of Design at the RCA ( and Dr Sonia Ranade, Digital Records Specialist at The National Archives.

The studentship will cover home fees (full time) and a stipend of £15,863 per year (current London rates) for UK students or EU students who have lived in the UK for three years prior to the award.  Overseas students may also be eligible if they fulfil a range of residency requirements stipulated on the AHRC guidelines.

More information on the AHRC's doctoral maintenance and fee rates for 2014/15 can be found at  The student will be eligible for an extra £550 per year CDP allowance, in addition to (up to) £1,000 per year from TNA to cover research and travel costs.

How to apply
Please complete the online application, available here:

When you reach the screen titled “Course”, please pick “AHRC Scholarship - Visualising Historic Time” and “PhD”.

You must include a research proposal and indicative bibliography with your application. See for general guidance on PhD applications, especially paragraph 7.  Two academic references are required.

You are very welcome to discuss your ideas with Dr Stephen Boyd Davis:

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

TIME: a symposium on Time and Design

19 March 2014
10:00 – 16:15
Royal College of Art (Darwin Building)
Lecture Theatre 1

As part of the School of Design's contribution to the RCA's Research Methods Course, we present a symposium dedicated to Time and Design.

Time is the universal metric, a context for every object, life, event, alteration - but how do we design with time? What should time look like, how do we perceive it and how does it feed into how we live, act and remember? The symposium will set out historical, conceptual and cognitive problems that beset thinking about time, featuring the following speakers from the areas of psychology, history, engineering and design:

Claudia Hammond is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and psychology lecturer and the presenter of All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4, as well as programmes on BBC World Service and BBC World News TV. She is the author of the book “Time Warped” in which she delves into the mysteries of time perception. In her talk she shows how malleable our experience of time is and which factors influence how we perceive time.

Siân Lindley is part of the Socio-Digital Systems group at Microsoft Research, where she studies technologies in use and the practices that are built up around them. Siân presents two of her projects on using digital timelines for narrating personal histories, which yield unexpected insights into how representations of time shape our retelling of the past.

Matthew Shaw’s research in the history of the French Revolution, which he developed from his PhD into a major book, sheds light on perhaps one of the boldest reforms undertaken in Revolutionary France: the redesign of time itself. For almost a decade the French calendar had not only its own months and years but also decimalised hours and minutes.

John Taylor’s most ubiquitous invention has probably been used by anyone who ever switched on a kettle. However, it is his work on clocks that most captivates him. Turned inside out and controlled by a giant time-devouring mechanical creature, John’s Corpus clock required two hundred engineers, scientists and craftsmen, five years of his time, one million pounds and one Stephen Hawking for its unveiling on the wall of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.

Peter Bennett introduces physicality in how we interact with computers through his research on Tangible Interfaces at the Bristol Interaction & Graphics Lab. A physical interface for time however proved to be problematic. Is time flexible or solid? Is time a single object or many? Is time a line, circle, spiral or even a shape at all? It is this ambiguous nature of how time can be physically represented and controlled that Peter explores in his work.

If you are from outside the RCA and plan to attend, please email to let us know. Entrance is from Jay Mews.

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