PhD Research Studentship x3 - Interactive Storytelling

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Dundee, SCOTLAND
Job Type: PartTime
Deadline: 17 Jul 2017

Reference: THW/17/059651/000042

Contract Type:Temporary/Fixed term

Contract Term:Part time

3 PhD Research Studentships

Interactive storytelling to support cancer patients

Today, there are an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, and this number is set to rise to 4 million by 2030. By 2020 almost one in two people will get cancer at some point in their lives. Treatment is improving and people live longer after cancer treatment than ever before. (See Macmillan Cancer Support “Statistics Fact Sheet” for details However, cancer is a difficult disease to understand, and options for treatment are similarly complex. Different treatments carry different risks and consequences, and those consequences can be both short-term and long-term ((See Macmillan Cancer Support “Throwing light on the consequences of cancer”

The project
This project will explore the use of interactive storytelling, underpinned by computer games technologies, to provide key information sets to cancer patients in engaging, accessible and impacting ways. Existing research has demonstrated that when complex information relating to personal risk is embedded in narrative individuals better understand how their own decisions relate to that risk. Additionally, narratives that embody patient experiences can help patients come to terms with the difficult decisions they will inevitably have to make and the consequences of those decisions.

We will develop interactive stories that help patients understand how cancer arises and develops together with the treatment options available and treatment consequences. To do this we will draw on our expertise in computer games technologies, computer arts and interactive narrative, and combine this with specialist knowledge in cancer and in patients managing long-term health conditions.

Abertay University will lead this project and will work in partnership with the Universities of St Andrews and York and with Macmillan Cancer Support. Prof. David Harrison (University of St Andrews) will provide cancer biology and medical expertise. Dr Richard Walsh (University of York), will contribute expertise on the role of narrative theory in complex problem domains. Macmillan Cancer Support will provide a wealth of experience in cancer patient care and provide access to patient groups to understand the needs of cancer patients and the opportunities storytelling presents.

The challenges this project presents are both huge and exciting, and we will work with our partners to deliver the interactive stories. We seek applications for the following PhD positions:

1) Narrative Designer: To design and develop narratives for the project. This role will encompass not only narrative design, but also Game Design more generally, and candidates should be able to demonstrate some knowledge of other aspects of Game Design (e.g. user experience design, user interface design, gameplay/systems design, and level design). Candidates should have a background in Game Design or related disciplines, with an emphasis on storytelling and developing interactive narratives. Technical Game Design knowledge (working with engines, developing visual scripting, knowledge of scripting languages such as C#) is preferred but not essential.
2) Computer Artist: To design, develop, and implement graphics for the interactive stories. Candidates will have a background in Computer Arts or related disciplines. Skills in digital art production are essential, including knowledge and experience of 2D/3D production methods. Knowledge and experience of game art pipelines are preferable, including experience of working with game engines. Candidates should also demonstrate visual literacy and an appreciation for visual storytelling.
3) Games Technologist: To lead development of interactive narratives making use of game development tools and game engines. Candidates should have a background in Computer Games Technology, Computer Games Development, or related disciplines that focus on software engineering. Candidates should be able to demonstrate proficiency in C++ as a core programming language. Knowledge of other programming languages (such as C#), visual scripting tools, game engines, and source control is desirable, as is experience of developing and finalising at least one game project.

This is an interdisciplinary project and candidates should expect to develop a working knowledge of cancer and treatment options. Another important feature of this project is that the 3 PhD students must work as a team to develop the interactive stories. Accordingly, in addition to the technical skills noted above, all candidates should have strong communication and interpersonal skills.

You will be expected to visit partner institutions at formal meetings and informally as required, and present the work at international fora in both the computing and biological sciences, and so candidates must be willing to travel nationally and internationally.

Each PhD studentship provides a package valued at around £75,000. This includes a fully funded tax free stipend of £14,553 per year over 3 and a half years, and tuition fees, travel and equipment.

The Abertay Graduate School
Abertay’s PhD students are located in the Abertay Graduate School ( and have access to our dedicated study and social spaces – a forum in which you can meet, work and learn with other researchers and postgraduates from across the University. We provide training and professional development opportunities to our postgraduate community, and offer help with funding applications, placement opportunities, teaching support, public engagement and outreach activity.

You will be expected to undertake limited teaching duties of no more than 70 hours a year, typically providing support to academic staff in computing laboratories. We provide training on this activity and it is a valuable part of career development.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof. James Bown (

The Studentships are available for an October 2017 start for a period of up to 3.5 years.

Applicants should submit through HIREWIRE submitting a personal statement of application detailing which project you are interested in and why you are interested in undertaking this project and a CV. (NOTE: HIREWIRE ONLY ALLOWS YOU TO SUBMIT ONE DOCUMENT, PLEASE MERGE YOUR SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS).

If you are selected for interview you will be required to complete an online Research Student Application Form which includes the submission of a research proposal. Guidance on how to write the proposal can be found here: , under 'how to apply'. Applicants are also encouraged to contact Professor Bown ( for advice on developing a proposal prior to submitting it.

The closing date for submissions is 17th July 2017. Submissions after this date will not be considered.

Closing date:17 July 2017

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If you have questions about this role, please contact: HR Recruitment, HR Services, Tel: 01382 308642, Email: ,

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