PhD Studentships in the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC)

The RCA’s Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) is offering three fully funded PhD studentships covering tuition fees, stipend and training allowance to develop research that covers all aspects related to mobility concepts, intelligent technologies, user experience and city design with partnered companies and other sponsors. These studentships are open to international and UK/EU based students. 

Intelligent Mobility Design Centre

Launched in May 2016, IMDC, with Professor Dale Harrow as Centre Director, partners with industry leaders to explore and develop research at the intersection of people, vehicles and technology within a complex and changing urban and global environment. The IMDC is built on partnerships with major players in the automotive and transport industries and on collaborations with key UK academic centres.

Three 3-year fully-funded PhD studentships will commence in October 2018. The successful candidates will pursue a PhD as part of the IMDC research group. They will further benefit from research training, personal mentorship and cross-cohort opportunities both within IMDC and more broadly at a cross-College level, including attending the College’s Research Methods Course. 

We invite applications in the following project areas:

Designing experiences and behaviours for driverless rides  

To develop user interfaces, experiences, and interior layouts for autonomous vehicles or moving spaces which integrate social interaction, entertainment and work scenarios that are triggered by activities on the move. 

Inclusive design approaches for smart city mobility

Explore human factors, new mobility models and city design and planning, focusing on inclusive and resilient solutions. How do we Integrate intelligent technologies with infrastructure, systemic design, new mobility services and sustainable design. 

Adaptive applications of mobility solutions for fast growing and emerging economies 

This research area with focus on the study of adoption of emerging economies’ urban solutions in developed countries, and sustainable development for fast growing cities, megacities and developing countries.

Alternative vehicle types and typologies

Explore a wide range of alternative urban transportation solutions including simple and accessible methods such as one-wheel vehicles and premium solutions such as high-speed trans-city commuting.

Car culture paradigm shifts

Visions for future mobility are strongly related to the heritage of car design. This research area aims to study the aesthetics of intelligent mobility and its connection with and disruption of automotive culture, fashion, identity, industry and history. 

Entry Requirements:

These studentships are highly competitive and applicants will be selected upon the quality of their application, interview and portfolio of practice. However, all applicants must normally have obtained a good relevant undergraduate degree or an equivalent qualification. An MA, MRes or other research preparation is also desirable. The College recognises as an equivalent qualification any degree, diploma, certificate or other evidence of formal qualification awarded by a university or other higher education establishment, where the award is made following the successful completion of a course of at least three years’ study, the programme of research being open, as a general rule, only to persons holding a certificate awarded on the successful completion of a full course of upper secondary education.

Exceptionally, other qualifications may be approved, providing that the Academic Board for Concessions and Discipline (ABCD) is satisfied that the applicant has the ability to pursue the programme of research successfully.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that they have a reasonable knowledge of the English language. Candidates who do not speak English as their first language will be required to provide evidence that within the previous two years they have achieved an IELTS score of at least 7.0 with 7.0 in writing, or equivalent for PhD.  Further information is available on the applications pages of the College website: Application guidance

Applications open: Monday 12 March 2018

Applications close: Thursday 14 June 2018

Award and eligibility

There are three fully funded 3-year full-time PhD studentships available. The funding will cover three years of full-time study only and will cover both overseas and UK/EU tuition fees, as well as providing a tax-free stipend of £16,553 pa and a £2,000 training allowance for the term of the PhD.  International and UK/EU applicants are welcome to apply. 

IMDC will also consider offering additional PhD places to study on this programme for full-time and part-time study (subject to interview and the entry requirements being met) however these places would not be funded by the IMDC and applicants would have to be confident they have the funds in place to support their proposed study.   

IMDC research students will be based at RCA’s Battersea campus with necessary travels to South Kensington campus and the possibility for some time at our White City Campus. 

How to Apply:

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the RCA online application system.  You will need to register an account to log onto the system.

Selecting the programme to apply to:

● Under Programme Name select ‘PhD Studentship, Intelligent Mobility Design Centre’

● Select the start date (2018/19) and read the on-screen information about how to progress through the application.

Personal information:

Please be sure to complete the following sections of the form with all relevant information (all questions with a red asterisk next to them are mandatory and you will not be able to submit without answering these):

  • Personal Information
  • Education
  • Employment history (you will be able to enter up to five sets of employment information)
  • Research Proposal.  In the title section, please select which of the five research topics you are applying for.  Please upload your research proposal in this section. 

Your proposal should include the following elements (1,000 words maximum):

  • Will your PhD research be by Thesis or Project. 
  • What is your particular research question, argument or hypothesis within the studentships described?
  • How do you propose to address these questions and find out the answer (what is your methodology?)
  • How do you see your work in the wider context of the discipline? Who else’s work might be relevant to your project?
  • Describe the programme of work, identifying stages and content with estimated duration and completion dates of each phase. 
  • Provide a detailed bibliography and reference to other people’s work/practice that gives further contextual information about your proposal.
  • What skills, knowledge and experience do you have which are relevant to this study?
  • If you are proposing to undertake a project-based research degree, how will practice and written elements relate to each other? 
  • What is the proposed original contribution to knowledge and understanding? 
  • How do you propose to reflect upon or analyse critically your approach to the project?


Contact details for two academic referees or relevant employers in research institutions/companies (we will then contact your referees directly). If you are currently at university or have recently graduated, then at least one of the referees must be an academic. 

Note that academic referees must have university email addresses and employer references should have the official email address of the company. If you already have two academic references, you can scan and upload these instead (note that they must be signed and on headed paper). Ensure you contact your referees to let them know we will be requesting a reference from them before submitting your application.

Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure we have received the references by the application deadline.

For further information email:

Applications open: Monday, 12 March 2018

Applications close: Thursday 14 June 2018