Funded research projects

Funded research projects

Abertay offers a range of funded PhD and Masters projects for enthusiastic and ambitious candidates who are interested in pursuing a research degree at Abertay University.

Funded PhD and Research Masters projects are available to students who hold (or expect to gain) either a First Class Honours degree, an Upper Second Class Honours degree or a Masters qualification.

The studentships described below have been divided into three categories:

Open – Applications are currently open for these studentships. You can find further details via the Abertay jobs page and

Due to open – These studentships will be advertised shortly.

Closed – These studentships are now closed for applications, however, you may be interested in seeing what topics we have funded previously.




We have 2 funded studentships open at this time:

Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Using Affective Computing to Create an Emotional Bond between Users and Virtual Agents for Enhanced Social Interaction

A 3.5 year fully funded studentship with a February or June 2020 start

Project Synopsis: With natural user interfaces, the potential for well-designed Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to improve the human condition increases and it is desired that such interactions are more direct and consistent with human natural behaviour. The emergence of biofeedback systems makes it more intuitive that users’ emotions should play a role in the interaction loop. A closed affective interaction loop is implemented in a computer game by involving player’s emotions in the gameplay and incorporating an affective dimension into the gameplay design.
This project is interested in the emotional connection between humans and emotionally aware non-player characters (NPCs), and how an affective dimension in the agent’s architecture influences such bonds. Companion NPCs shadow the player during the game and often assist them through certain events and quests. Emotionally intelligent companions are likely to tempt the player into a continuous and more convincing interaction loop, strengthening the emotional connection that often accompanies long-term player-NPC companionship.
An emotionally intelligent agent needs a means for collecting knowledge from its surroundings, a decision-making mechanism, and the ability to execute those decisions. We will implement an affective loop consisting of two modules incorporated into a selected test game to influence the NPC; emotion recognition and game adaptation. The recognition system combines players’ behavioural expressions and physiological cues to infer their emotional state. The adaptation mechanism associates the extracted emotions or affect variables with in-game features and events, including the NPC’s behaviour. The NPC will be designed to integrate believability requirements of virtual agents to represent personality, emotion and social traits. Adding and affective factor to the character’s design helps produce emotionally intelligent responses that account for user’s affective states and adapt to their needs and preferences in ways perceived as more natural.
The project will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and game level and character design, in addition to user psychology assessment. It is led by the School of Design and Informatics with the support of colleagues from the School of Applied Sciences. The student will be joining a multidisciplinary research team across the Divisions of Cybersecurity, Games Technology and Mathematics, and Psychology. The team will have access to the Emergent Technology Centre (ETC) within Abertay which offers specialised equipment for experimental games and IoT technology to create applications and experiences for immersive and other technologies. Abertay University is internationally recognised for its leading achievements in the aforementioned areas, bridging academia, research, industry and the community. This offers a wide range of expertise and a great nurturing environment for researchers.

apply here: 

Fully Funded PhD Studentship: The effect of different types of omega-3 fatty acids on exercise capacity in the elderly

A 3 year fully funded studentship with a February or June 2020 Start

Project Synopsis: Ageing is associated with declining cardiovascular health, mobility and exercise capacity leading to loss of independence. Omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to improve these biological functions, which will impact on quality of life, but they are not all equal and their differential effect is still uncertain, especially in older people. This project aims to elucidate which type of omega-3 fatty acid is most efficient in improving cardiovascular function and exercise capacity in the elderly population.

Apply here: 

Due to open

A list of upcoming studentships will be displayed below when available.





  • R-LINCS PhD Studentship: Using VR to Investigate the Visual Features that Determine the Effectiveness of Disruptive Camouflage
  • R-LINCS PhD Studentship: Eco-grief and community experiences of changing water practices in Malawi
  • PhD Studentship: Seals as sentinels of antimicrobial resistance: mapping antimicrobial resistance genes in UK waters
  • PhD Studentships: A 4D Virtual Tumour for Cancer Ecology.
  • RLINCS PhD Research Studentships: Investigating the Chemistry of a Cold Smoking Process and its Impacts on Food Safety and Quality; Deep Learning Intrusion Detection System for the Internet of Things; Characterising fat tissue structure and function in grey seals, an animal model of extreme fat deposition and mobilisation, using novel in vivo and in vitro approaches; Applying the self-reference effect to improve children’s mathematical problem solving; Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in female athletes.
  • Master by Research Studentships in Mental Health Nursing: Various areas of research focus will be considered. 
  • Master by Research Studentship: Developing a successful food new product development tool linking effective testing (using facial electromyography) with sensory attribute selection
  • PhD Research Studentship: Exploiting yeast diversity in whisky fermentations for biocatalysis of desirable flavour compounds. 
  • PhD Research Studentship: Evaluating the effect of plant species on soil carbonation flux
  • PhD Research Studentship: Fluid-aerosol modelling of cloud evolution in substellar atmospheres (R-LINCS)
  • Master by Research Studentship: Developing a successful food new product development tool linking effective testing (using facial electromyography) with sensory attribute selection
  • MSc Research Studentship: Utilising crushed dolerite columns to stabilise unstable substrates using microbial-induced calcite precipitation (MICP): coupling ground improvement and climate mitigation - laboratory approach 
  • Games and Media Facilitated e-Learning 
  • Developing a successful new food product development, tool linking effective testing (using facial electromyography) with sensory attribute selection
  • A generic framework for atmospheric fluid-aerosol modelling with applications in astrophysics, computer games and environment
  • Utilising crushed dolerite columns to stabilise unstable substrates using microbial-induced calcite precipitation (MICP): coupling ground improvement and climate mitigation – numerical modelling approach
  •  Exploring self-reference effects in children with ADHD
  • Application of focused 'omics' approaches to the study of biological phenomena implicated in musculoskeletal ageing. (R-LINCS)
  • CLOSED - Modelling of multiphase flow in deformable agricultural soils (Hosted at Abertay University for Tayside Centre for Geotechnical Engineering in Natural Environments)
  • Development of Effective Guidelines and Communication Tools for the Protection of Rural Private Water Supplies from Sources of Pollution 
  • Detection, analysis and clinical application of spermatozoa biochemical profile using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). (R-LINCS)
  • Multiple missing: an exploration of behavioural consistency in repeat missing adults. (R-LINCS)
  • Application of focused 'omics' approaches to the study of biological phenomena implicated in musculoskeletal ageing. (R-LINCS)
  • Connecting Performance and Play: interdisciplinary design methods for the development of games and performance – ARCS/ SGSAH  studentship (Abertay University, National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
  • Investigation into and Development of Processes for the Enhancement of Safety and Shelf Life of Fresh Produce. (R-LINCS and James Hutton Institute)
  • Ecology at play: An exploration of natural data through game design. (IW Stewart PhD Studentship) 
  • Developing of 4D Imaging Methods to Quantify Soil Structural Dynamics with applications to Soil Science and Environmental Engineering. (R-LINCS)
  • Addressing the Fundamental Problems of Cyber-Security through Anti-Patterns. (R-LINCS)
  • Interaction between emotion and communication. (R-LINCS)
  • Investigating structural synaptic plasticity as a novel therapeutic target for functional recovery from spinal cord injury. (R-LINCS)
  • Securing cyberspace: Development and validation of a novel research and evaluation toolset. (R-LINCS)
  • The Social and Organisational Construction of Ethical Hacking. (R-LINCS)
  • A systematic study of the effect of ultrasound on food enzymes and bioaccessibility of bioactive compounds (model and real food systems). (R-LINCS)
  • Assisting Digital Forensic Reconstruction via Exploratory Information Visualisation. (SICSCA)
  • Exploring the Role of Monitoring Agents and Affective Feedback in Enhancing Cyber Security for Average Users. (SICSCA)
  • Games Design, a new Approach for a New Industry. (ESRC)
  • Design and Action. (AHRC)
  • Exploring Interactive Design Engineering Methodologies. (AHRC)
  • Investigation of the performance of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) on the Scottish Trunk Road Network (STRN). (BEAR)
  • Factors controlling root growth in heterogeneous substrates: physical structures and root behaviour. (R-LINCS in partnership with James Hutton Institute)
  • When do dialects become languages? (Leverhulme)
  • Computer and Web Enabled Food Product Evaluation. (MacPhie of Glenbervie Ltd)
  • Customer Honesty in Self-Service Interactions. (R-LINCS)
  • Nano-and bio-technologies for food science and technology. (SORSAS)
  • Role of Second Generation Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor(s) and Adenosine-Triphosphate on Human Sperm Motility. (SORSAS)
  • Influence of soil structure on the spatial and temporal distribution of bacteria in soil. (SORSAS)
  • Ecosystem service goods and benefits accruing from sustainable approaches to urban water management (SORSAS)
  • Understanding Early Intervention: A Case Study of Dundee (SIPR)
  • MPhil Research Studentship, 2 years: Project Title: Games and Media Facilitated e-Learning
  • PhD Research Studentship: Mapping for Social Innovation
  • MPhil Studentship: Development and validation of sequencing and bioinformatics methodologies to identify pathogenic mutations in candidate male infertility genes.
  • PhD Studentship: Parental Involvement in Sport: Improving the Quality of Children’s Sport Experiences and Wellbeing
  • PhD Studentship: Co-Design Mapping for Social Innovation Project: after an initial in-depth mapping of needs we aim at entering in a phase of co-design of Social Innovation. The co-design will support envisioning solutions addressing some of the identified needs by working with the local community. This phase of the research will be conducted with co-design techniques broadly defined.


Further information


A related Masters-level qualification is desirable, but not essential. Otherwise you must have, or expect to obtain, a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in a discipline relevant to the studentship you are applying for. 

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your undergraduate or Masters degree was not taught in English, you are required to hold a suitable English language certificate.

If you require a Tier 4 visa, you must provide one of the following English language certificates:

  • West African at B(4)
  • NECO at B(4)
  • IELTS 6.5 with no band less than 6.0*

If you do not need a Tier 4 visa or are an EEA National, you are permitted to use one of the following:

  • TOEFL 80 with no band less than 18*
  • Pearson’s PTE 61 with no band less than 56*

*The University can only accept these qualifications if they were completed two years prior to the start of the programme.

How to apply

All available studentships are listed on the Abertay Jobs page, as well as The individual listings will specify the steps you need to follow. We only accept online applications submitted via the Abertay Jobs portal.

Every single studentship will have its own specific requirements. Make sure you read them carefully.

Contact us

Please contact for more information about how to apply for a studentship or for any other questions about our research degrees.


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