UWE Bristol leads new AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training

Issue date: 16 October 2013

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The University of the West of England together with Falmouth University and the University of Plymouth has won a major bid from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to become one of seven new Centres for Doctoral Training.

The 3D3 consortium will run for five years from September 2014 with ten doctoral students across the three institutions recruited per annum in digital design, digital media and digital arts, including music and performance.

Dr Andrew Spicer, Associate Professor from UWE Bristol, said, “The students will all be practice-led and will explore the opportunities and challenges presented by rapidly evolving digital technologies including the interface with traditional crafts, media and performance.

“The students' research projects will address the design challenges that the digital future may bring, including the rematerialisation of the virtual. The overall aim is to train a new generation of researchers able to meet the creative and design challenges of the future. It aligns with the AHRC's Digital Transformations research theme investigating the impact of new technologies.”

UWE's contribution will draw on its existing strengths in design, media and the visual arts that are principally located in two established research centres: The Centre for Fine Print Research led by Professor Steve Hoskins and the Digital Culture Research Centre led by Mandy Rose.

It will also tap into the new research field in Digital Cinematography led by Professor Terry Flaxton. UWE has a body of experienced supervisors who are well-versed in practice-led research and experienced in the type of cross-disciplinary projects that will be the life-blood of a consortium that is dedicated to the creation of new knowledge, new forms of practice and the creation of digital artefacts. These strengths are enhanced by being part of a consortium and students will be able to work across the three institutions.

The major partner is the Research and Enterprise in the Arts and Creative Technologies (REACT) knowledge exchange network that is also led by Professor Jon Dovey at UWE Bristol. The network will be working closely with consortium supervisors to facilitate work placements and internships in small companies, arts and cultural organisations with an interest in emergent digital concepts and design and media technologies across various platforms.

Paul Gough, Deputy Vice Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said, “We are delighted that UWE Bristol will be leading this prestigious new Consortium. We will now be building on work with Plymouth and Falmouth and our major partner REACT to join up activities with our large network of SMEs from the wider professional and business community.”

Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, states: “This is an important step forward in delivering the best possible training and support for postgraduate students in the arts and humanities, and in developing a collaborative approach which pools expertise and expands horizons for postgraduate researchers.

We are delighted at how the sector, and partners beyond the sector, has responded, and we look forward to working closely with them to support the next generation. We have had to make difficult choices during this process and I'd like to thank the large team of independent peer reviewers and moderators whose judgement, dedication and expertise guided this process over a considerable time. The AHRC would also like to thank all the researchers and administrators in universities who submitted such excellent applications. Postgraduate support remains the largest item of expenditure in the AHRC's budget, but it doesn't match the demand arising naturally from the very many talented people in the arts and humanities research community.”

Science and Universities Minister David Willetts said, "The AHRC is creating more opportunities for the next generation of researchers, both within and beyond academia in the thriving arts and humanities sector. I'm particularly pleased to see an emphasis on student placements and additional skills training among the new arrangements.

"The strong support of a number of partners like the BBC, Microsoft Research, Top Shop, Ford and Routledge will ensure a bright future, not just for the individuals involved but for UK cultural and economic growth."

For more details see AHRC news release.

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