University of Exeter funding: iCASE EPSRC - Dyson PhD Studentship

iCASE PhD Studentship on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence: Privacy in private spaces (ESPRC and Dyson) - PhD-funded Ref: 3915

About the award


Academic supervisors:

Secondary supervisor: Andrew Watson, Director of Machine Learning, Dyson

This is a 4-year, fully funded PhD Studentship to conduct an interdisciplinary PhD across the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship to cover UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate of £15,285 per year. The successful candidate will start in September 2020 and will receive training from across the two Departments and will be expected to conduct interdisciplinary research in the PhD.

Applicants with backgrounds in computer science and mathematics or the social sciences (including sociology, politics, STS and management) are encouraged to apply and some experience in programming and/or an interest in AI would be desirable. . There will be the opportunity for visits to Dyson and more information on the company can be found here:

Location: College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project description: 

Privacy is a major ethical concern in the development and application of AI and UK parliamentary committees have called for more inclusive approaches to addressing privacy, e.g. privacy by design approaches in the responsible development and application of AI. To achieve this goal, innovative companies need to understand what levels of privacy are desirable, particularly when AI is intended to be used in people’s homes which are traditionally private spaces.

This project will:

1] examine privacy in private spaces and the ways in which people manage tensions between risks and benefits related to privacy in their own homes; and

2] develop AI systems that engage with users about their privacy requirements and provide reassurance through the visualisation of hardware and AI capability and the establishment of temporal and spatial boundaries for when and where AI can be used in the home.

Residency Entry Requirements

UK/EU standard Research Council criteria e.g. ESPRC
This studentship is available to candidates resident in the UK/EU.

To meet the residency entry requirements for full funding (tuition fees and a maintenance allowance) you must have:
• Lived in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship
• No restrictions on how long you are able to stay in the UK
• If you are not a UK or EU national, the purpose of your residence in the UK must not be wholly or mainly for full-time education

If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs.

To be eligible for fees only funding you must be:
• Ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU

Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in either computer science, mathematics or a social science discipline such as sociology, politics, STS, management. A desire to conduct interdisciplinary research is essential. Experience in interdisciplinary research is desirable but not necessary.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.

  • CV
  • Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Two references from referees familiar with your (academic) work. Please ask your referees to email your references direct to quoting the studentship reference number 3915.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

All candidates matching the profile above are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. We will process applications until all positions are filled. The closing date for applications is midnight on 15 June 2020. Interviews are expected to commence from 22 June 2020.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 725801 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisors, Prof Edward Keedwell  ( or Prof Sarah Hartley (


Application deadline:15th June 2020
Duration of award:per year
Contact: STEMM PGR Admissions