Inside

PhD Programme

The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design runs its own Doctoral study pathway, in partnership with other RCA academic programmes.

Our approach to design research at PhD level is inclusive and interdisciplinary. Candidates are jointly attached to the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and one other RCA programme.


Please note we are not currently taking on any new Doctoral students.  

Current PhD candidates


Jointly with RCA Architecture 


Imogen Privett: Workspace Interrupted 
Organisations are now operating within an increasingly networked global economy, with fundamental implications both for the way we work and the spaces that we occupy while doing so. With workspace design all too often governed by 'fad, fashion and faith', this study takes a critical look at emerging workspace typologies, seeking to analyse and understand the new environments needed to support radically transforming business practices. This PhD by Practice takes an ethnographic methodological approach and is centred on a new co-working space, the Birmingham Hub.
Supported by Haworth


LDoc-funded (joint with Kingston University and the University of Arts London (UAL))

Will Renel: Collective Creative Engagement: An exploration of technological interface design to develop and sustain more inclusive communities
Will’s research considers the proximal and distal effects of engaging communities in collective creative acts through technological means and questions if equal access to collective creative engagement, through an exploration of technological design methodologies, can develop and sustain more inclusive communities. His practice-led study aims to generate innovative models of inclusive community development through new understanding of technological interfaces for collective creative engagement.


Jointly with RCA Information Experience Design:


Ben Dalton
Designing for Digital Pseudonymity
This thesis argues that anonymous pseudonymity has a long and rich history within culture and society, that digital resources and identity governance are tending to strip away the potential for pseudonymity, that to remove pseudonymity we would have to remove anonymity with unexpected consequences, and that identity performance is a core aspect of everyday life. The research seeks to derive design guidelines grounded in 'interviews' and projects to inform strategies for design for digital pseudonymity.

John FassExternalising Instruments: Making sense of digital experience through designJohn is exploring the ways people understand digital experiences. Using the examples of browser history, social networks and email this practice-led PhD allows for creative physical expressions of mental models. John's research consists of public-facing, collaborative project work, which has application in the fields of design research and human computer interaction.

Susannah HaslamKnowledge Mobilities: Object, exchange and circulation (by thesis)
Susannah is exploring the shifting positions and value of knowledge/s as a subject of inquiry, in a context of contemporary art theory, policy and governmental rhetoric around knowledge exchange, and the social/participatory aspect of digital humanities. The research considers the authenticity of conceiving of what knowledge mobility might be, through the critique and reconstitution of language, human relationships, things and ideas as conditions of work.

Benjamin Koslowski Staging Privacy: architectural representation, theatre and thresholds in digital public space 
Staging Privacy explores architectural representation as a tool to better understand individual privacy in digital space. Psychological notions of privacy have not yet been successfully adapted to the various overlapping sites of digital social interaction; this investigation uses the theatre and its related notions of actors and audiences to unpick the shifting qualities of interaction, and to help individuals better understand their own position with this.

Veronica RannerKnowledge Exchange in Bio-Digital Public Space
Veronica is researching the expanding domain of the bio­–digital, a converging knowledge space where digital and computational thinking meet biological matter. Her current doctoral work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative (bio)material strategies and information experience through design research. Physical and immaterial manifestations of such collisions are examined and created based upon their polyphonic potential within the future of technology.     

Jimmy TideyHow can Local Government use Social Media to Inform Policy?
Jimmy’s research is considering the ‘digital footprint’ of communities, generated through locally-oriented digital public spaces (blogs, forums, Tweets and Facebook pages). By investigating the collection and processing of such data, this PhD aims to find out how it can be used to inform local policy, measure outcomes, and, importantly, improve communication among groups of people within UK society. 

Supported by the AHRC as part of The Creative Exchange project


LDoc-funded (Joint with Kingston University and the University of Arts London (UAL)

Will Renel: Collective Creative Engagement: an exploration of technological interface design to develop and sustain more inclusive communities
Will’s research considers the proximal and distal effects of engaging communities in collective creative acts through technological means and questions if equal access to collective creative engagement, through an exploration of technological design methodologies, can develop and sustain more inclusive communities. His practice-led study aims to generate innovative models of inclusive community development through new understanding of technological interfaces for collective creative engagement.


Past PhD candidates


Jointly with RCA Innovation Design Engineering:


Katie Gaudion:  
A Designer’s Approach: Exploring how Autistic Adults with Learning Disabilities Experience their Home Environment
Autistic adults with limited speech and additional learning disabilities are people whose perceptions and interactions with their environment are unique, but whose experiences are under-explored in design research. This PhD by Practice investigated how people with autism experience their home environment through collaboration with the autism charity Kingwood Trust, which gave the designer extensive access to a community of autistic adults that it supports. (Completed June 2015) 

Supported by The Kingwood Trust