PhD Studentship: deep learning methods for social awareness in human-robot interaction

An exciting opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD studentship in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at UWE Bristol, supported by a living stipend and tuition fees at UK/EU rates. The studentship will be funded by the Wallscourt Foundation.

The expected start date of this studentship is Monday 1 April 2019.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 10 February 2019.

About the studentship

Can we build better social and interactive robots by learning from human social behaviours? The Bristol Robotics Laboratory has obtained funding to study this question and we are looking for an outstanding PhD candidate to investigate it.

This PhD will explore a challenging and exciting new line of research at the crossroad of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Sciences and Robotics. Your work will involve researching and developing novel data-driven approaches (including deep learning) to unfold the complex dynamics of human social interactions. You will transfer these social interactions to autonomous social robots and demonstrate your results in real world experiments with complex social applications, including education and assisted living.

Your research will take place at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), the largest co-located robotic lab in the UK. BRL is an exciting academic environment with countless opportunities for scientific collaboration and world-leading facilities: an extensive choice of robotic platforms (including Baxter, Pepper, TiaGo, SocioBot); several motion tracking rooms; a VR and simulation lab; a fully instrumented assisted living department and high performance computing capabilities. You will be directly supervised by Manuel Giuliani and Séverin Lemaignan, who are both experts in the field of human-robot interaction with extensive academic networks. You will be part of the ECHOS research group (Embodied Cognition for Human-Robot Interactions), who are a growing group of academics, post docs and PhD students and who will also be there to support you.

We are looking for enthusiastic and highly motivated candidates, with a strong background in robotics, cognitive sciences or computer science. You should be a team player, who will work with the other researchers and PhD students in our research group. You should also have the desire to develop your own personal research agenda.

This PhD project, with potentially high visibility/high impact results, represents an ideal start for an internationally-leading academic or industrial career.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Manuel Giuliani on

Funding details

The studentship is available from 1 April 2019 for a period of three years and a half (3.5) years, subject to satisfactory progress, and includes a tax-free stipend which is currently £14,777 per annum. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years at UK/EU rates. Applicants who are required to pay international tuition fees will be required to cover the difference between the UK/EU and the international tuition fee rates in each year of study.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have a first degree in computer science, robotics or cognitive science. Good programming skills are also an essential requirement. Applicants with knowledge of and/or previous research experience in human-robot interaction or machine learning and data mining are particularly encouraged to apply.

Applicants from neighbouring fields such as social psychology will also be considered. These applicants will need to demonstrate their ability to learn the additional skills necessary to successfully undertake this PhD.

A recognised English language qualification is required. 

How to apply

Please complete and return the following forms:

Please consult the Graduate School studentship application guidance notes when completing the above forms.  The Guidance Notes also detail the supporting documentation that must be provided with the application form. 

Your application form and supporting documentation should be submitted to the UWE Graduate School at by midnight on the closing date for applications.

Each of your referees must complete and return the following reference form to the Graduate School in support of your application:

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Sunday 10 February 2019 (midnight).

Further information

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 26 February.  If you have not heard from us by Monday 4 March, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.


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