PhD in Sociotechnical Co-Design for Human-Machine Configurations

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Melbourne, VICTORIA
Deadline: 01 Jun 2021

  • Centre for Transformative Media
  • Cross-disciplinary research
  • Full time, 3 year fixed term position, Prahran

We are seeking a highly motivated, qualified candidate with a passion for radically embodied thinking and doing, interdisciplinary research, and contributing to a more inclusive and diverse vision of our technological future.

About the Scholarship
A three-year fulltime (indexed) PhD scholarship is available for doctoral research that advances our understanding of diverse sociocultural contexts and embodied, inclusive participatory meaning-making as being integral to designing sociotechnical artefacts and the human-machine configurations they produce. The scholarship includes a living stipend of $28,596 per annum plus a total of $3000 candidature support (e.g., to support research-related travel).

The successful applicant will work with a team of interdisciplinary researchers to contribute to a research project, funded by the Australian Research Council, which investigates how sociotechnical artefacts become social agents through a critical, radically embodied co-design approach. Given the cross-disciplinarity of this research, qualified applicants are sought from a variety of backgrounds, e.g., design, performance, communication, social anthropology, or science and technology studies (STS). It is expected that they will apply their expertise to contribute to the development of a critical, arts-led, participatory research program and develop innovative, inclusive methods to engage and study diverse publics in human-nonhuman interaction/relationship scenarios. Possible research topics include (but are not limited to): care-full ethnography for sociotechnical design; human-machine relations and Indigenous knowledges; critical, movement-based participatory design; and any combination of these.

About the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies (CTMT)
The candidate will join a research team in the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies (CTMT) at Swinburne University of Technology (SUT) in Melbourne, Australia. CTMT's core research objectives are to establish new pathways and extend Swinburne’s core capability in science, innovation and technology with humanities, the arts and social sciences. The Centre has expertise in bringing together cultural, artistic and sociotechnical domains, with an interdisciplinary research focus on exploring how transformative media, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and social robotics, change our engagement with the world.

The Centre’s research mission is to understand the material practices, histories, and methods for considering technoscientific agendas and the social, cultural and aesthetic dimensions involved, by materially enacting and critically engaging with these transformative sociotechnical experiences. Core research themes are: Creative Arts 4.0, focusing on the potential of creative practice research to disrupt and enhance production innovation techniques, Techmedia Culture, concerned with the critical, cultural, historical and social analyses of emerging creative media technologies, and Digital Cultural Heritage, investigating the preservation and study of born digital media artefacts. CTMT's facilities include a bespoke research lab for embodied movement design, funded by the Australian Research Council.

About you
The successful candidate will have:

• First Class Honours (H1) award or equivalent; for exceptional candidates a H2A award; and/or a Masters degree with clear research project components in a relevant area; or equivalent research experience;
• Background or experience in participatory/experience design or HCI/HRI; or movement-based research/dramaturgy; or human-machine communication; or social anthropology of technology; or STS;
• Prior experience or a strong interest in cross-disciplinary research

A full list of selection criteria is available within the position description.

How to apply and further information
Applicants should submit an EOI comprising:

• A one-page cover letter summarising their academic background, research interests, and motivation for applying.
• An up to four-page statement that responds to the selection criteria and proposed pathways (see position description) in relation to their own research experience and interests. This should include a brief, critical discussion of relevant existing research, including their own work, and an outline of possible research methods and research objectives, as well as links to relevant audio-visual materials online (if applicable).

Please note, at the application stage, we are more interested in seeing the applicant’s ability to develop relevant critical questions and connections and to critically think through innovative cross-disciplinary possibilities and reflect on relevant existing work/positions, rather than formulating a fleshed-out PhD project. The latter will be developed with the successful candidate in consultation with the supervisors.

• A detailed CV, including details of the applicant’s educational and research/practice/ professional background, as well as names and contact details of two referees
• Copies of degree certificate(s) and grade transcripts

Please email a zipped folder of the above documents (with CTMT SUPRA in subject line) to:

Associate Professor Petra Gemeinboeck (


Research Coordinator Robert McMahon (

This is a two-stage application process, with shortlisted applicants being contacted for an interview (via Zoom). The interview will offer applicants the opportunity to meet their potential supervisors and to discuss their research interests within the wider context of the Human-Robot Experience (HRX) project, which the scholarship is linked to.

For further enquires please contact Associate Professor Petra Gemeinboeck (

Should you require further support for an interview due to special needs or consideration, please contact Maree Norden, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at For support or queries related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, please contact
Agency enquiries will not be accepted for this position.

Swinburne is a large and culturally diverse organisation. We are proud to be recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as an Employer of Choice for women for 10 years in a row and of key initiatives such as our Pride@Swinburne Strategic Action Plan and our Reconciliation Action Plan. Equity and diversity are integral to our 2025 vision to be a world class university creating social and economic impact through science, technology and innovation.

Closing date for applications: 11:59pm, Monday 31st of May 2021

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