Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics

About the CDT

Applications for 2018 entry (starting September 2018) have now closed.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Digital Civics at Newcastle University aims to train 55 doctoral students between 2014 and 2022. In 2018 we have 15 fully-funded studentships, for computer scientists and graduates of other disciplines interested in the design, deployment and evaluation of community-driven digital technologies and services. Whether it is through the redesign of local services with communities, or rethinking how citizens can and do interact with local government, technology innovation and design has a critical role to play in enabling digitally connected citizens and communities.

The CDT is a unique partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and Northumberland County Council, and a range of local, national and global industry and third sector partners. The CDT aims to deliver applied research training for doctoral researchers and includes a program of intensive training and research, and internships and placements at some of the world’s leading charities, companies and universities.

The fully funded four-year doctoral programme includes a one-year MRes in Digital Civics, followed by a three-year PhD that will involve working closely with local communities, third sector organisation, local government and/or technology companies. In their first year of studies Digital Civics doctoral students will undertake training in underpinning technologies, with computer science graduates studying advanced data science, machine learning and security technologies, and non-computing graduates receiving an introduction to computer programming.  All students will also study the social, political and economic contexts of citizenship, community, and service provision. They will also undertake training in participatory methods, digital design and the development of digital services.

The CDT aims to create a generation of researchers capable of engaging in both multi- and cross-disciplinary research, and equipped with the conceptual, technical and practical ability to design, develop and evaluate digital technologies and methods for this complex arena. We therefore expect CDT students to be graduates from disciplines such as computer science and engineering, but also non-computing fields such as design, education, health sciences, planning and architecture, politics or social sciences.

The CDT in Digital Civics aims to attract students to work in a range of core technical areas and applications of civic technologies including:

Digital Technologies & Human-Centred Design: Digital Civics depends on innovation in relation to a range of technologies that will underpin future digital services including: data science, machine learning, ubiquitous computing, social computing and media computing; as well as new participatory and experience-centred design methods through which we will envisage and design the new models of participatory citizenship.

Digital Public Health: Digital technologies offer new opportunities for public health policies and initiatives to be designed collaboratively by service providers and users. This shift towards a bottom-up design process allows public health services to be more responsive to community needs. The Digital Civics CDT explores ways to apply digital technologies to the field of public health.

Digital Social Care: Funding cuts to many local social care providers has made it more important than ever to deliver efficient and responsive social care services. With responsibility for social care moving away from local governments, new ways of engaging local communities and service users in the design of social care services are required. The use of digital technologies to support these new and changing relationships between care users, carers and service providers is still largely unexplored; the CDT in Digital Civics aims to address this.

Digital Learning: The digital community learning strand of the Digital Civics CDT explores ways that digital technologies can bridge the gap between educational institutions, such as schools and universities, and the local communities in which they are situated. These communities, as well as parents, families and local businesses, can offer many valuable resources that could enrich the education provided. Digital technologies also enable participatory curriculum design and can open up educational opportunities to new audiences and communities.

Digital Democracy: Digital technologies can reverse the traditional low levels of public engagement in local democracy and town planning decisions. By looking at the way local governments work with citizens and community groups, the CDT in Digital Civics explores the new opportunities for civic engagement that digital technologies can facilitate. In particular, the digital local democracy theme is interested in empowering citizens and encouraging bottom-up approaches to decision-making.

For further information, take a look at these frequently asked questions about the CDT, or contact openlab-admin@newcastle.ac.uk.

Applications for 2018 entry (starting September 2018) closed on 28 February.