Abertay Futures Scholarship

Abertay Futures Scholarships are offered to postgraduate students who undertake research in areas of strategic priority to the University. See priority research topics below.

You can apply to have the first year of your research study funded. Continuation of funding after your first year is dependent upon you fulfilling any conditions stated in the offer letter, as well as a successful Annual Progression Review. 

Successful candidates may also be expected to undertake a placement, professional practice, ambassadorial or other activity related to researcher professional development (this will be clearly stated within the Scholarship Offer Letter). All offers are also subject to the current Regulations for Research Degree Programmes.


Candidates that have received an offer for Postgraduate Research Degree study from Abertay University are eligible to apply.

The candidate's research topic must fall within a priority strategic area of research, as detailed on the Research pages of the Abertay University Website, and their case for support must be exceptional.

Applications will be accepted from any student, regardless of their country of origin.

How to apply

Please complete the Futures Scholarship Application.

Download the Futures application form

Download the Futures guidance notes

Completed applications should be submitted to the Advisory Service in one of the following ways:

In person

Applications may be submitted in person at the SEZ Reception Desk or during a Funding Drop-in session. Please allow time for your application to be checked by the member of staff receiving it.

By Email

Applications may be sent to advisory@abertay.ac.uk You will receive an automated response to confirm your email has been received. Please take this as confirmation of receipt.

By Post

Ideally, applications should be submitted in person or by email however we can accept applications by post to the address below. Please be aware that there may be a delay in your application being received even if being sent by first class post. Address:

The Advisory Service, Bernard King Library, Abertay University, Bell Street, Dundee, DD1 1HG.

Application deadline

24 September for October start

07 December for February start

01 May for June  start

Once you have applied

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by email at the earliest opportunity.

Application queries and assistance

Staff in the Advisory Service can offer support and guidance with the application process including checking completed applications and evidence, guidance on application content, support with presenting financial and personal circumstances. To make an appointment with a Student Advisor use the link below or call SEZ on 01382 308833: https://abertayconnectservices.abertay.ac.uk/home.html To speak with a member of the Advisory Service or to find out when the next available drop in session is call the SEZ Helpdesk on 01382 308833 (Ask for Advisory) Email queries may be sent to advisory@abertay.ac.uk however please allow time for a response and consider other means of contact in the first instance if your query is time sensitive.

Priority Research Topics

Below you can view a list of Priority Research Topics within our Schools that we would consider for Abertay Futures Scholarships.

School of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Find out more about the research we undertake on each of the Division pages for this School.


The effectiveness of Bankruptcy Disqualification Orders and Debt Education Programmes in Scotland.

Bankrupts (or as they are technically known, debtors) in Scotland may, if necessary, be made subject to Bankruptcy Disqualification Orders which prohibit them from holding public offices, being company directors and holding certain other positions. There is a central register of disqualified directors, maintained by the Accountant in Bankruptcy. This contains a list of all the disqualified debtors and the reasons for their disqualification. It is easily accessible on the internet.

A feature of this research project would be too establish the extent to which the register is effective in alerting members of the public, businesses and other organisations to the fact that the debtor is prohibited from holding the positions previously mentioned. It could also establish the extent to which the prohibition actually inconveniences the debtor, and whether or not organisations such as the Registrar of Companies are aware of disqualified debtors acting as company directors.

A further related area of study might be the effectiveness of debt education programmes that some debtors are required to undertake. The intention is that undertaking such a programme would prevent debtors repeating the experiences that led them into sequestration in the first place: what needs to be established is whether the programmes improve debtors’ financial decision-making skills. A similar programme exists in Canada and useful comparisons could be drawn with the experience there.

Potential Supervisors: Professor Nicholas Grier.

Consumers’ understanding of their rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and other consumer-friendly legislation.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and other related consumer-benefitting  legislation is designed to protect consumers from being hustled into purchasing goods or services on unsatisfactory terms and with limited right of redress. The question arises as to how effective the legislation is in changing retailers’ behaviour and how well consumers understand their rights.

So far, it would appear that the Consumer Rights Act, with its complex provisions for return of goods according to the duration of ownership and their problems with the goods themselves do not appear to be easily understood by smaller retailers and most consumers. Websites touting tickets to shows and concerts do not appear troubled by the requirements of the law, particularly if not based in the UK. This project would research the effectiveness of these consumer laws, and propose remedies for any perceived failings.

Potential Supervisors: Professor Nicholas Grier.

Derivative claims and derivative proceedings under the Companies Act 2006

Derivative claims (derivative proceedings in Scotland) were designed to give members redress when directors of companies have breached their duties to the company, and the members wish the directors to make good any loss occasioned to the company by the directors’ breach. The new statutory claims replaced to some extent a former complex and time-consuming process designed to achieve much the same result.

The new claim has had mixed success, with surprisingly few cases being reported. What this project would investigate is the barriers to using these claims, which are likely to be the cost, the inconvenience, the high degree of knowledge of directors’ activities and the fact an issue that may be burning for some members may well be a matter of indifference to others. In particular, the legislation is difficult to follow, to the extent that lawyers advising their clients in disputes recommend their clients to use less perplexing methods of achieving a remedy. The project would explore the extent of the use of the derivative claim, and what could be done to make it a more approachable and effective remedy for members seeking to ensure that directors run their companies properly.

Potential Supervisors: Professor Nicholas Grier.

Examining the boundaries between work and private life.

Research topics would examine the boundaries that are currently drawn between public and private life in the context of employment rights.  This could be approached from a variety of different angles. For instance, it could focus on the ways in which law enables individuals to balance paid work and unpaid care responsibilities.  Alternatively, it could examine the increasingly blurred lines between working and non-working time, and the extent to which this does/should form part of the employment contract.  In doing so, it could focus on particular groups (e.g. fathers, atypical family models, working carers etc.) or specific issues such as social media use.  These issues could also be addressed from the perspective of particular industries were the balance between work and private life raises concerns.

Potential Supervisors: Dr Michelle Weldon-Johns

Intellectual Property Law in the 21st Century

Intellectual property law is an area where lawmakers struggle to understand the concepts and economic significance of intellectual property. By the time the lawmakers have formulated some agreed position on the law on this area that should apply the practice has moved on. Intellectual property law is also subject to capture by the intellectual property owners in order to assert a monopoly for as long as possible – while the infringers throughout the world undermine the legal authority imposed by their respective countries’ politicians. These intellectual property monopolies must further be balanced against the public interest in accessible and quality health care, education and other fundamental human rights.

Potential SupervisorsJade Kouletakis

Oil and Gas Accounting and Finance (OGAF)

The main research interests are Oil and Gas Accounting; Social and Environmental Accounting, with specific interest in company Environmental Disclosures; Performance Measurement, Financial and Management Accounting. There is a very strong history of research projects, PhD supervision and publications in high quality journals on such issues as corporate disclosures on environmental issues; abandonment problems associated with oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea and Nigeria and the implications for UK governmental policy; gas flaring and oil spillage, legitimacy and environmental disclosures. These projects have shown that some corporations disclose environmental information (including oil and gas related information) so as to either legitimise their activities or to report a more favourable set of accounts. The group intends to build on this work, through PhD supervisions by studying the link between environmental disclosures and corporate performance; environmental responsibilities and governmental control; legitimacy and regulation; internationalisation of standards and corporate accountability, and oil and gas reserves valuation. The future research and PhD supervisions will focus on questions such as “What does global environmental change mean for oil and gas producing developing countries?” and “How does rapid economic and social change, including falling trade barriers and the extension of the global markets, interact with issues relating to environmental change?”. 

Potential Supervisors: Reza Kouhy, Bibek Bhatta, Gonzalo Forgues-Puccio, Mo Yan 

Graduate recruitment and selection: This project xamines the changes in the methods of graduate recruitment and selection that have been used by UK-based organisations to establish the reasons for the main changes and developments in the process of attracting and recruiting graduates. The findings of this study are useful to employers considering the introduction of new graduate recruitment programmes and to those wishing to improve their existing ones as well as to institutions of higher education to reconsider the type of knowledge and skills they provide in order to prepare their students for the real world of work.

Potential Supervisors: Mohamed Branine; Alex Avramenko

Corruption and Economic Development

According to the World Bank, public sector corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to economic and social development. This view is supported by numerous empirical analyses. Today more than 80% of the world population still lives in countries considered highly corrupt. And although this situation may seem despairing, it also provides exciting opportunities to investigate issues related with the channels through which corruption affects the economy, its determinants and the factors that may mitigate its impact. Understanding better the causes and consequences of corruption potentially can bring prosperity to a very large fraction of the world population. We welcome proposals that focus on corruption or governance issues in general both from an economic or business perspective.

Potential Supervisors: Gonzalo Forgues-Puccio, Erven Lauw

Energy policy and governance: conceptualising and operationalising energy security

The inherent nature of energy security as demonstrated by the evolution of its conception over time is dynamic, contextual, multi-dimensional and polysemic. As such there is no universally accepted definition of energy security. Nonetheless, its importance in informing and developing energy policy and implementation mechanisms is critical, particularly when considering the multiplicity of areas it is impacting on and of factors that affect it. A novel perspective conceptualises energy security as the ever-increasing utilisation of renewable energy sources (RES) and the ever-enhancing resource use efficiency. This PhD project will seek to analyse the operationalisation of this definition by exploring the state-of-affairs in terms of renewable energy sources and resource efficiency proliferation from the lens of policy and implementation mechanisms development and application.

Potential Supervisors: Nikolai Mouraviev and Anastasia Koulouri

Renewable Energy Accounting and Finance

The relevance of energy industry to the productive, service and household activities in the modern society is critical. Global population growth, technological inventions and increased productive activities have, using energy from fossil fuel, led to a significant increase in global environmental degradations. Of major global concern among the negative environmental impacts is carbon emission. Thus, releases of green-house-gasses into the atmosphere damage the ozone layer and lead to excessive heat in some parts of the world and too much cold in others. This led to the emergence and subsequent rapid development of renewable energy technologies. Transitioning from conventional to renewable energy sources is an important strategy being pursuit by net energy importing countries. This research project is designed to focus on innovative modelling for Renewable Energy Accounting and Finance and Carbon Measurement. This project is open to the UK and non-UK PhD candidates who are looking to take up careers in the national energy sectors, the renewable energy generation/distribution subsector and related international energy organisations.            

Potential Supervisors:  Reza KouhyBibek BhattaGonzalo Forgues-Puccio

Corporate Governance and Corporate Outcomes

Literature review suggests that there is still plenty of work to be done to find out the causal effect of corporate governance on various aspects related to firms. In this spirit, this PhD project(s) will examine the effect of corporate governance on foreign institutional investors, borrowing costs, investment efficiency, risk-taking, etc, by specifically addressing the causality issues. 

Potential SupervisorsBibek BhattaGonzalo Forgues-Puccio

Dutch disease and the demand for ‘new’ exhaustible natural resources

Focus on Dutch disease as a consequence of relying on ‘new’ exhaustible natural resource income for trade balance control, countries deal with it in different ways while some avoid it all together. Comparison of such economies’ prognosis and diagnosis can act as a guide to countries that are relatively new to exhaustible natural resource reliance because of new/increased demand for minerals such as for tantalum, diamonds, cobalt and copper which are essential components of today’s battery-powered cars and gadgets.

Potential Supervisors: Greg Bremner, Neil MacGregor

Expanding an expanding industry; computer games as a basis for city-level comparative advantage

Focus on the economic contribution that the games industry bestows on the cities in which it is clustered by building on the output from the ongoing Abertay survey of computer games company owners and founders. How can city-specific benefits be harnessed such that economic policies can be designed to maximise comparative advantage? A national & international survey would generate the answer.

Potential Supervisors Greg Bremner, Iain Donald, Ryan Locke, Robin Sloan

Gaming the exhaustible natural resource-reliant exporting economies

Focus on the mechanics of building computer games that can accurately model the consequences for economies that become reliant on exhaustible natural resource exports. The idea is that games can be developed for school-age children who might become the policy makers of tomorrow. It ‘softens’ macro and micro economic theory and applies it to specific countries such that the process and consequences of economic decision-making insofar as it involves exhaustible natural resources can be actualised for the younger generation in any country.

Potential Supervisors: Greg BremnerIain DonaldRyan Locke

Home and Foreign Bias Phenomena

Focus upon PhD projects in the area of domestic and international investments in equity and debt securities. Projects would examine, among other issues, different measures of the home/foreign bias; comparative study among different regions; and fresh examination into economic and non-economic factors (including behavioural factors). 

Potential Supervisors Bibek BhattaGonzalo Forgues-Puccio

The ‘Presource Curse’ and its relationship with new oil discovery announcements

Focus on the mechanics of the relationship between new oil discovery announcements and preparatory macroeconomic policy and their impacts on dollar and non-dollar denominated economies’ non-oil trade balance and economic growth, stagnation and/or retardation.

Potential Supervisors: Greg Bremner, Neil MacGregor

Public-private partnerships (PPPs): policy and governance

A range of issues evolves regarding PPPs: what are the grounds that justify a PPP launch; what are critical success factors; how can risk be mitigated; how can partners effectively interact; what are the methods of dispute resolution. This PhD project will investigate methods of risk assessment and forms of risk mitigation and other critical issues in partner interaction. The project will adopt a theoretical framework that permits to conceptualise partner collaboration through the governance perspective, and might use quantitative or qualitative approach, or mixed methods. 

Potential Supervisors: Nikolai Mouraviev and Anastasia Koulouri

Social Entrepreneurship - A comparative study of industrialised versus developing nations

This PhD project will seek to explore the conditions that lead to and facilitate the genesis of social entrepreneurship in developed, transitioning and developing nations as well as the barriers hindering and enablers supporting its development from a policy and governance perspective.

Potential Supervisors: Nikolai Mouraviev and Anastasia Koulouri

Talent management in a competitive business environment

Potential research projects could investigate the main challenges of talent engagement and retention, how organizations manage talents to cope with the current challenges, and all aspects of talent recruitment and selection, training and development, motivation, rewards and wellbeing.

Potential Supervisors: Mohamed Branine, Alex Avramenko, Toma Pustelnikovaite

Water-Energy-Food Nexus and sustainable development from the policy and governance perspective

Balancing priorities within the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus requires a holistic approach to identify, consider and manage the nexus component interdependencies and to harmonise the multiple and (often) competing priorities of the WEF sectors stakeholders/agents. This PhD project will seek to explore the role of the WEF nexus in sustainable development and in particular achieving an equilibrium state through policy and implementation instruments seeking to support and facilitate sustainable development

Potential Supervisors: Nikolai Mouraviev and Anastasia Koulouri

School of Applied Sciences

Find out more about the research we undertake on each of the Division pages for this School.


Psychophysiological measures and immersion

The project aims to investigate user experiences in an immersive environment using various psychophysiological measures (e.g., heart rate, galvanic skin response, Electroencephalogram - EEG) to measure how users engage with the experience in this environment (e.g. a developed computer game). The project requires the integration and synchronization of multiple measures to assess the game experience in real-time, and has a strong technical aspect.  The project should be suitable for students that have a background in (games) programming, user experience testing, and are interested in how users interact with games on an emotional and cognitive level.

Potential Supervisors: Paul Robertson, Andrea Szymkowiak

Deploying Behavioural Science Techniques to Improve Security

Over the last decade the field of behavioural economics has gained traction in terms of changing human behaviours for the better. This has been highlighted by Richard Thaler’s recent Nobel prize. Thaler and Sunstein wrote the book titled “Nudge” a decade ago, introducing a range of behavioural science techniques to the world outside economics. Since then, a number of academics in a variety of disciplines have experimented with behavioural economics techniques in order to influence human behaviours. The UK and USA governments have institutes tasked specifically to find ways for government to use these techniques.

Cyber security has also started experimenting with these techniques. Modern computer systems are essentially socio-technical: made up of humans, hardware and software, deployed within a specific  social context. One of the most intractable issues in cyber security is the problem of insecure human behaviour, which compromises the security of systems despite a range of technical measures being put in place to bolster security. Awareness drives have had limited success and the field is looking for better ways of securing the human in socio-technical systems. We would be interested in supervising PhDs that explore the deployment of behavioural economics techniques in the wider human-centred security and privacy context.

Potential Supervisors: Karen Renaud, Vera Kempe

VR DESIGN: Virtual Rewards, Digital Environments, Sensory Integration, Games and Neuroscience

This project investigates how different types of reward influence user choices and behaviour; perception, and the experience of interaction ‘flow’ in virtual and game environments. The brain naturally associates pictures and sounds with reward: following a reward-event, people seek out more interaction with previously rewarding cues. Anderson et al. have found that items associated with reward seem to achieve a higher priority in visual processing, even when rewards are no longer offered. This project will explore which sensory stimuli result in changed behaviour; improved engagement with the game; a tendency for better performance; better retention of learned information, or increased spend on in-game purchases. Further, the project will address how rewarding stimuli can influence game flow and will investigate the link between attentional capture and the flow phenomenon. Do reaction times towards rewarded stimuli improve as a function of previous rewards? To what extent is attentional capture replicable in a more natural environment? Candidates from Psychology, Computer Science, Computer Game Application Development, Computer Arts and cognate subjects would be suitable for this project. The results would have relevance for Creative Industries locally and nationally, and for cognitive science.

Potential supervisors - Ken Scott-Brown & George Lovell

Intelligent Game Design for Behavioural Research

Exploring a games approach to behavioural research, specifically to online experiments. At present, the need to test adequately powered samples in behavioural research has risen sharply yet laboratory testing of human participants is time-consuming and expensive. At the same time, the way in which self-selection biases and incentive structures on crowd-sourcing platforms affect participant behaviour are poorly understood, especially for more complex tasks. One solution lies in the design of psychological experiments in the form of games with purpose that can be shared freely to reach a wide and representative sample of players. However, in many instances games designers feel hindered by the constraints of experimental control. As a result, a games approach is often seen just as an add-on to behavioural research, and the design aspect has often been neglected. This has so far prevented the successful application of professional games design to behavioural research as evidenced in the very low rates of replay of existing Serious Games. This PhD project will explore systematically how games design can be incorporated into behavioural experiments that require strict control of variables. It will investigate how different game types and the associated motivational incentives affect task performance and outcomes. The benefit for psychologists lies in a better understanding of motivational effects in experimental research. The benefit for games developers lies in a better understanding of how creativity of game design can be integrated with experimental control thereby opening a potential new domain of games application. Most importantly, this project brings together unique areas of expertise at Abertay thereby paving the way for future interdisciplinary collaborations in this area. It will help the university to position itself as a leader in Serious Games design.

Potential supervisors: Iain Donald, Ruth Falconer, Vera Kempe

Examining the relationship between Laterality and Emotional identification in animated faces

Previous research has focused predominantly on emotional identification in human faces, but can animated faces be used to measure emotion identification?  The majority of emotion research is conducted with right-handed participants, but we know little about emotional processing/identification patterns in left-handers. Thus, this project aims to build on the work of Bain (2015), using animated, emotional faces, to examine potential differences in identifying positive and negative emotions between left- and right-handers.

Potential Supervisors: Lynn Wright and Ken Scott-Brown

Realising employability potential: Shifting the emphasis from skills-based competencies to potential through sport

Dual-career athletes who combine high performance sport and education are an exceptional and unique population for investigation as they need to maintain a wide range of skills across two domains, and also have the ability to acquire new ones during the course of their sporting careers. Although innate ability is important for sporting performance, top athletes also need to acquire skills through intense learning processes. How practice is structured, delivered and supported is critical to this outcome. Many successful athletes are notable for their ability to either develop additional skills, or acquire a new skill set replacing the original, and subsequently apply them at the top level of performance. This has become apparent with examples of talent transfer where athletes have been able to cross from one sport into another with equal levels of success at the top, or the rapid ability to change technique due to injury. While the characteristics required for learning new skills are obviously not unique to dual career athletes, their focus on a very precise skill set, coupled with their ability to transfer performance of high standards in one domain into new activities, makes them useful models for the wider population. This project would focus on what and how employability skills-based competencies are developed and adapted in sport.

Potential Supervisors: David Lavallee and Andrea Cameron

Exit survey for elite athletes: Development and validation of retirement from sport survey

An independent review into Duty of Care in Sport has recently been published on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the UK Government’s “Sporting Future” strategic plan. The Sport Duty of Care Review has made recommendations for how the sporting system can more effectively look after people who take part in grassroots sport, people who volunteer in sport and people who perform at the elite level, including those on a talent pathway. One of the priority recommendations (#6) Measurement) recommends that independent exit interviews be conducted with elite participants after they leave formal programmes.

Potential Supervisors: Scott Hardie and David Lavallee

‘This is a man’s world’? An exploration of coaching careers in men’s football

The last national survey of the United Kingdom estimated that only 18% of qualified sport coaches were women.  As many women start to move up the coaching career ladder they perceive a limit on that progression due to their gender-identity.   Many see recruitment into desirable coaching roles as being restricted by informal appointment processes that rely on ‘who you know’ or being part of the right ‘network’.  Research on factors that may deter women from sports coaching positions has identified barriers such as a lack of appropriate role models, gender-role stereotyping, personal interest, self-efficacy and available opportunities.  Previous research has focused on coaches who have successfully overcome these barriers; women who felt well supported, having previously been highly-level players themselves, and most importantly, who felt they were considered ‘insiders’ within sport network.  However, few studies have explored the experienced of female coaches ‘outside’ of the internal network and are therefore more likely to have not progressed successfully.  More valuable lessons can be learned from exploring what is preventing the progression of those female coaches who have met barriers and failed to overcome them.

Potential Supervisors: Rhiannon Lord and Ross Lorimer

How many screens are seen? Frames of reference in perception and action in multimedia environments.

This project seeks to examine user engagement in second-screen applications and media consumption. The study will determine how, why, when, can and should interactive screen media consumers deploy a second screen in game-based content and video viewing.

Second screen gaming is a fledgling, yet highly promising field of research, both in academia and game development. The ability to engage in content that is both of high quality and extremely interactive across multiple devices, independent of the host platform is of significant interest to video game console manufacturers and software developers as well as for education providers and video streaming services. We seek to understand the connections that video game players form with their content, both in and out of sessions of play and how developers can create environments that engage their players in meaningful ways. Indeed much second screen use or general multiplex (such as CCTV) design is driven by the capability of the technology and the desire to maximize its use.

This project is of significant relevance for research in the subjects of game design and development due to the lack of conformity and practices that developers currently employ, which creates a rift, or secular behaviour that isolates users to the platforms they feel most comfortable with.

Potential supervisors: Ken Scott-Brown & Iain Donald


How does camouflage interfere with object recognition: exploring the processes underlying effective crypsis with virtual reality and psychophysics.

The primary goal of the project is to understand how camouflage interferes with discrete visual processes and how combinations of different forms of camouflage can be combined to undermine object localisation and recognition. Any improvement in the understanding of how camouflage works and how it could be better evaluated will result in an improvement of personnel concealment and safety. Visual psychophysics will be used in VR environments to measure the effectiveness of different camouflage in three dimensions and assess how those forms of camouflage interfere with discrete processes of object localisation and identification. Different forms of camouflage undermine different visual processes in observers. By identifying the role which different forms of camouflage play in breaking localisation and recognition, we can help develop more effective camouflage and methods to evaluate crypsis and target recognition.

Potential Supervisors: Dr Paul George Lovell and Dr Ken Scott-Brown

Sinister stereotypes, social identity and cognitive performance - A biopsychosocial approach

10% of the population is left-handed, with slightly more left-handed males than females. Therefore left-handers are a minority group compared with right-handers. This subtle minority/majority paradigm would work well to further investigate stereotype threat.   Research supports a left-handed personality or stereotype and we have found left-handers assume a minority sub-group identity.  Here we will investigate whether stereotype priming (Threat & Lift) can be generalised to a minority group of left-handers and whether left-handed women are especially susceptible to stereotype threat. This work can have wider implications for the understanding of how minority stereotypes can influence behaviour, using this handedness situation as a model system to create new ideas for applying to other situations such as gender and vocational area.

Potential Supervisors: Lynn Wright and Scott Hardie

Examining the body-specificity theory in left- and right-handers

Cassasanto (2009) examined the body specificity theory in left- and right-handers - that is the differential, systematic responses by individuals influenced by interactions with their physical environments.  They found that left-handers were more likely to make positive associations with leftward space, and negative associations with rightward space – the opposite was found in right-handers. This project will involve taking more systematic measures of handedness and examining preferences for leftward and rightward space in left- and right-handers.  In addition, recent work has shown that this bias can be influenced by the consequences of the action and that it is somewhat more complicated than previously thought. As this was predominantly conducted with right-handers but not paying attention to the extent or strength of handedness it is likely we will find differences if we also examine both direction and strength of handedness.

Potential Supervisors: Lynn Wright and Scott Hardie

Response style differences between left- and right-handers

Our previous research has found a number of response style differences between left- and right-handers.  For example, we have found differences in approaches to novel tasks, differences in state anxiety and differences in behavioural inhibition. We are keen to examine this area further and we would like to examine responses to novelty and experiences further using a novel or ambiguous food task. Using an animal model, previous research (Braccini & Caine, 2009; Gordon & Rogers, 2015) found that left-handed marmosets were more avoidant of novel food items and took longer to approach these (if at all). This project would partially replicate this work using novel food or ambiguous primes and examine response style differences in left and right-handers.

Potential Supervisors: Lynn Wright and Scott Hardie

Attentional processing in the self-reference effect: Evidence from neurodiverse samples

There is an enormous amount of research showing that information associated with self at encoding is preferentially remembered. This ‘self-reference effect’ is a highly robust finding, and has been demonstrated across multiple tasks that suggest it is an automatic effect. However, we have recently found evidence that attentional resources are required at encoding to produce the self-reference effect, arguing against an automatic effect. Specifically, we have found that children with ADHD do not show a cognitive self-reference effect, and that divided attention at encoding reduces its magnitude. The PhD project would therefore be an exploration of how ADHD and typically-developing children’s performance varies across different self-reference tasks, as well as exploring the effects of disrupting attentional processing on self-referencing in neurotypical children and adults. This investigation is important because it challenges existing theoretical accounts of self-referencing, as well as providing evidence about the extent to which children with additional support needs can benefit from self-referencing in the real world.

Potential Supervisors: Sheila Cunningham, Josephine Ross (Dundee University - advisor)

Intrasexual competition and social judgements of dominance.

Potential supervisors: Christopher Watkins and Clare Cunningham

Mate choice and social judgements of traits relevant to mate choice (e.g. attractiveness).

Potential supervisors: Christopher Watkins and Clare Cunningham

Romantic expression and human sexuality.

Potential supervisors: Christopher Watkins and Clare Cunningham

Missing Individuals: Structured Professional Estimation of Risk (MI:SPER). Development of a Risk Assessment Tool

UK police record 838 missing person episodes daily, encompassing a wide range of circumstances and involving people with diverse personal characteristics. Outcomes include successful location, mortality (homicide, suicide, accident), or continued absence. While the majority are traced within 24 hours, between eight and thirty five are found dead each week and for every person reported missing 12 others are affected. Missing persons, therefore, present significant emotional, social and operational challenges and police in Scotland alone acrue financial costs in the region of £80,000,000 per year.

Risk assessment is central to investigation of missing persons, both initially and throughout the case. This involves decision-making to determine an informed estimate about the nature, likelihood, and severity of an adverse outcome. Current police practice involves classification as high, medium or low risk which determines the proportionate operational response. Policy stipulates a ‘common sense’ approach and, internationally, forces utilise various aide memoires/checklists to facilitate assessment. However, none have a solid empirical evidence base having been devised solely from experience. Consequently, assessments are based on gut-instinct and vary considerably with individual officer’s knowledge and operational experience. Inaccurate risk assessment of missing persons has been identified as having far-reaching negative implications during numerous high profile government case reviews. To overcome these issues, we aim to advance theoretical understanding of police and other professionals decision-making and risk assessment in relation to missing persons, and to support operational risk assessment through development and validation of the first evidence based structured professional judgement tool for missing person investigations (MI:SPER).

Potential Supervisors: Penny Woolnough, Sheila Cunningham, Geoff Dickens (University of Western Sydney - advisor)

Effects of Different Movement Practice on Mood, Body Image, and Self-Esteem

Increasing incidences of physical inactivity and diagnosable mental health (MH) conditions are a public health concern with more people suffering from illnesses such as obesity and diabetes as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has been suggested that if there was a pill that would provide individuals with the benefits of physical activity, it would be most successfully prescribed. Dance has been identified as a particularly effective means of enhancing an individuals’ physical condition, cognition, emotion and psychological well-being. The fun element of dance is hugely important as it is more likely to promote adherence compared to other exercise programmes.  However, to further advance dance as a treatment for a larger population, two areas are yet under-researched: First, most longitudinal studies on the benefits of dance focus on either the elderly or people who suffer from a long-term mental or physical illness. Secondly, while there is a general understanding of dance being beneficial for an individual’s well-being, the specific cause-and-effect relationships remain unidentified. Most studies to date compare effects of a particular dance style to another type of physical activity without targeting the effects of specific stylistic and qualitative elements of dance styles. This PhD project will aim at investigating the cause-and-effect relationships of different dance styles on individuals’ health and well-being across a range of age groups.

Potential Supervisors: Dr Corinne Jola, Dr. Kate Smith

Psychosocial Challenges of Physical Illness & Counselling for Physical Health Conditions

Staff have developed a portfolio of cutting edge research in this area, especially in relation to sight loss, diabetes and dermatology/skin conditions. Such work has been impacting on health and social care policy and clinical practice by highlighting the psychosocial needs of people living with long term health conditions. We have established links with the NHS and the voluntary sector to enable access for data collection. Areas of future focus indicatively include: Psychological trauma and chronic health conditions, effectiveness of pluralistic interventions for people with poor physical health, impacts on relationships and sexual health.

Potential supervisors: Zoë Chouliara, Mhairi Thurston, Roberta Fulton

Recovering from Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) / Complex Trauma

Complex trauma prevalence is increasing and is a big health policy agenda at the moment in Scotland. Staff have developed a portfolio of research in this area with a number of publications and impacts on policy and clinical practice. Potentials areas of future focus include: therapeutic trust in working with CSA, therapeutic trust and fragile process, prevalence of CSA and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in those seen in sexual health clinics, dermatology outpatients, and ‘vulva clinics’, cyber security and child abuse.

Potential Supervisors: Zoë Chouliara, Mhairi ThurstonRoberta Fulton

Mental Health and Wellness in Children & Young People

The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is a major health and policy driver in Scotland & beyond. Recent crisis and governmental report on CAMHS is evidence on existing challenges and the need for viable sustainable solutions in this area. Staff have links with NHS clinical settings for children and young people as well as with the voluntary sector in our geographical area. The Division of Mental Health Nursing and Counselling has been developing a strong focus and package of work on this area. We have a dedicated team of practitioners and researchers with expertise on children/young people and other relevant areas. Potential areas of focus: cultural resources and young people, the experience of counselling in schools.

Potential supervisors: Zoë Chouliara, Sebastian Monteux

Evaluation of the effectiveness of exercise referral schemes. Can a Self-Determination Theory grounded approach improve standard provision?

Potential Supervisors: Luis Calmeiro and Joel Rocha

The effects of combined training programmes on cardiometabolic health and their translation to real-life settings.

Potential Supervisors: Luis Calmeiro and Joel Rocha

The development of care through sports coaches’ career

Potential Supervisors: Rhiannon Lord and David Lavallee

Emotional and psychological support for people living with diabetic retinopathy

Potential Supervisors: Mhairi Thurston and Scott Hardie

Changing lanes: The identity transition and mental health in disabilities sport.

Potential Supervisors: Kate Smith and David Lavallee

Investigating the process and outcome of pluralistic counselling

Potential Supervisors: Julia McLeod and Jason Annetts

A social constructionist study of the policing of domestic violent in Scotland

Potential Supervisors: Stuart Waiton and Donncha Marron

A social constructionist study of the ‘policing’ of vulnerability

Potential Supervisors: Stuart Waiton and Donncha Marron

A social constructionist study of the rise of the Named Person in Scotland

Potential Supervisors: Stuart Waiton and Donncha Marron

Organisational aspects of cybersecurity: how do experts work?

Potential Supervisors: Stefano de Paoli and Xavier Bellekens

 End-user in cybersecurity: how are they seen by industry and practitioners?

Potential Supervisors: Stefano de Paoli and Xavier Bellekens

The Fake & the Authentic online

Potential Supervisors: Stefano de Paoli and Xavier Bellekens

School of Design and Informatics

Find out more about the research we undertake on each of the Division pages for this School.

Games for Social Change

Focus upon the practice and theory of Games for Social Change, MbR and PhD projects. The focus will be to investigate the development and analysis of projects in the emerging field of Games for Social Change (otherwise referred to as Serious Games or Games for Change).  This Phd led by Professor Joseph DeLappe, seeks candidates to engage in practice based research surrounding the production of computer games developed specifically for political, social and cultural change. Depending on the area of focus potential supervisors include,  Joseph DeLappe, William Huber, Darshana Jayemanne, Sonia Fizek, Hadi Mehrpouya, Iain Donald and Ruth Falconer.

The PhD student, who will have an appropriate background in game art, game design or related fields of new media based practice and a knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods, will participate in and develop new project activities, including working in the Division of Art, Games and Media. Working with the support of Professor DeLappe, the PhD student will be encouraged to define their own doctoral research questions surrounding the critical development of games for social change.

Applicants should have an outstanding undergraduate record and Masters Level experience in an area relevant to the project. The student will be based in the Division of Art, Media and Games within the School of Design and Informatics working with a diverse and growing postgraduate community and utilizing the programme support and research training available.

Critical Gaming Studies

Focus upon PhD projects in the area of game and media studies, which could have a practical as well as traditional dissertation component. Projects would investigate digital games from a humanities-oriented perspective, engaging with theoretical issues such as narrative, ethics, semiotics and disciplines such as ethnography, literary theory, philosophy, postcolonialism, political economy, psychology and so on. Depending on the area of focus potential supervisors include William Huber, Darshana Jayemanne, Sonia Fizek and Joseph DeLappe

Interactive Sound and Music

Focus upon Interactive Sound and Music MbR and PhD projects in the areas of procedural audio, bespoke performance environments, new interfaces for musical expression, music for video games and audio for AR/MR/VR. Depending on the area of focus potential supervisors include Christos Michalakos, Kenneth McAlpine, Niall Moody and Yann Seznec.

Performance and Play

Focus upon PhD projects in Performance and Play exploring the development of communities of practice combining research bridging the performing arts and videogames. Depending on the area of focus potential supervisors include Joseph DeLappe, Kenneth McAlpine, Dayna Galloway and Lynn Parker.

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality in the areas of 3D content creation, development of experimental and/or applied games or experiences, through to measuring the engagement and immersion of AR/VR applications. 

Depending on the area of focus potential supervisors include Iain Donald, Paul Robertson, Dayna Galloway, Euan Dempster, Christos Michalakos, Darshana Jayemanne, Joseph DeLappe  and Andrea Szymkowiak.

Specific titles:

The impact of embodied characters on users 

The project aims to investigate how characters in games or applications impact on their users. For example, users will mimic features of their game avatar’s behaviour for a short period of time after gameplay, and agents can also influence users to change their opinions. The project will investigate how immersive game experiences mediate those effects.

 The project is suitable for students that are interested in character design and development (agent, avatars, or companion characters), and how interacting with these characters impacts on human behaviour, information processing or perception. Students will ideally have experience of game development, for instance in working with game engines such as Unreal or Unity. Familiarity with art production packages such as Photoshop and Maya would be an advantage.

Potential Supervisors: Dr Andrea Szymkowiak, Dr Robin Sloan, Mr Kenneth Fee

Psychophysiological measures and immersion

The project aims to investigate user experiences in an immersive environment using various psychophysiological measures (e.g., heart rate, galvanic skin response, Electroencephalogram - EEG) to measure how users engage with the experience in this environment (e.g. a developed computer game). 

The project requires the integration and synchronization of multiple measures to assess the game experience in real-time, and has a strong technical aspect.  The project should be suitable for students that have a background in (games) programming, user experience testing, and are interested in how users interact with games on an emotional and cognitive level.

Potential Supervisors:  Dr Paul Robertson, Dr Andrea Szymkowiak

AR/VR methods for ‘seeing’ and interacting with multi-scale and multi-phase air pollution

This project will investigate and evaluate AR/VR interaction methods for visualising, exploring and analysing ‘big data’ from atmospheric transport models that predict air pollution. It will draw on the use of game technology for intuitive interaction, design and analysis of data delivered in real-time. This data consists of different atmospheric pollutants that change over space and time and which can be combined with underlying Digital Elevation Models or the urban environment for regional and local scale simulations respectively. It will investigate making the invisible visible by ‘seeing’ and interacting with various air pollutants. Candidates with a game programming, scientific visualisation or game engine background would be appropriate for this project .

Potential Supervisors:  Prof Ruth Falconer, Dr Euan Dempster,  Dr Stefan Reis (Centre Ecology and Hydrology)

Internet of Things PhDs

The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution has arrived with full force. Manufacturers are competing with each other to add Internet connectivity to household devices ranging from toothbrushes to televisions. Cities are also experimenting with embedding sensors in order to help them understand how to improve aspects of service delivery as well as creating open data city platforms. This development opens up some wonderful opportunities for very interesting research. On the one hand, the data from these devices offers great opportunities for sophisticated analysis generating new insights and techniques for improving people’s lives and the services offered to them by devices and councils. Further opportunities exist in bringing this data to life using game technology and creating playable cities. On the other hand, these devices have the potential to infringe on personal privacy and security. We welcome research proposals on the data science or human-centred privacy and security aspects of IoT.

Potential Supervisors: Ruth Falconer, Karen Renaud, Xavier Bellekens.

Another area of IoT that we are interested in exploring is how to assist manufacturers with embedding good security practices into their products.

Security research at Abertay, and elsewhere, continues to identify high-impact, readily-exploitable vulnerabilities in IoT devices. In many cases, these vulnerabilities are unfixable owing to an inability to update the software already running on the device -- either because the manufacturer has provided no facility for software updates, or because they are no longer providing security updates. We are interested in finding more appropriate engineering solutions to this problem that are practical for manufacturers to implement and to help ensure that devices comply with future consumer protection legislation.

Potential Supervisors: Ethan Bayne, Adam Sampson, Ian Ferguson, Natalie Coull.

Deploying Behavioural Science Techniques to Improve Security

Over the last decade the field of behavioural economics has gained traction in terms of changing human behaviours for the better. This has been highlighted by Richard Thaler’s recent Nobel prize. Thaler and Sunstein wrote the book titled “Nudge” a decade ago, introducing a range of behavioural science techniques to the world outside economics. Since then, a number of academics in a variety of disciplines have experimented with behavioural economics techniques in order to influence human behaviours. The UK and USA governments have institutes tasked specifically to find ways for government to use these techniques.

Cyber security has also started experimenting with these techniques. Modern computer systems are essentially socio-technical: made up of humans, hardware and software, deployed within a specific  social context. One of the most intractable issues in cyber security is the problem of insecure human behaviour, which compromises the security of systems despite a range of technical measures being put in place to bolster security. Awareness drives have had limited success and the field is looking for better ways of securing the human in socio-technical systems. We would be interested in supervising PhDs that explore the deployment of behavioural economics techniques in the wider human-centred security and privacy context.

Potential Supervisors: Karen Renaud, Vera Kempe

Information Visualisation

Digital devices play a huge role in our everyday lives, with increasingly complex abilities and rapidly expanding storage capacities. Often, the nature of the data stored on these devices will paint a vivid picture of the life of its owner. Patterns of behaviour and social connections are deeply embedded in much of this data. For institutions such as law enforcement, this digital forensic data can serve as invaluable evidence.  However, the sheer volume and complexity of this data means that analysing it in an effective way is challenging. Humans process data more efficiently when it is visualised, as can be demonstrated in the common use of charts and infographics. With a multitude of new display technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality becoming available, this research aims to explore how these new technologies can be used to display data taken from digital forensic datasets. It is envisaged that a new way to display this information in a way which makes effective use of 3D space may lead to marked increases in investigative efficiency.

Potential Supervisors: Gavin Hales, Ian Ferguson, Paul Robertson

Knowledge Visualisation

Information, when visualised, creates knowledge. However, such knowledge can also be visualised in order to facilitate efficacious transfer of such knowledge to other people. This PhD will essentially build on knowledge gained from the other research at Abertay in visualisations and find effective ways of encapsulating that knowledge in visualisation. This will ease and facilitate the transfer of knowledge to all stakeholders. Knowledge visualisation is a relatively new field but holds great promise in a world of exploding knowledge and information.

Potential Supervisor: Karen Renaud