Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Funded PhD Studentship available - University of Sheffield

We are seeking applications from talented and strongly motivated Software Engineering, Computer Scientist or Engineering Graduates interested in studying for a Ph.D. studentship with potential for high societal impact in the healthcare domain. The successful candidate will work in a stimulating and exciting environment alongside researchers in the inter-disciplinary Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) as well as researchers in the Speech and Hearing Group (SPandH) in the Department of Computer Science.

The deadline for applications to be received is 16th August 2015.
Research Topic
The focus of the PhD research is: Spoken Language Dialogue Systems in Assistive Technology
This project will focus on the implementation of a spoken dialogue system for a smart-home environment with applications to assistive technology. By providing an easy-to-use, natural language interface in a domestic setting, older people and people with physical disabilities can get support from an intelligent home environment as they go about their daily life. This will help them live independently and could greatly improve quality of life. The successful applicant will have access to CATCH’s state-of-the-art HomeLab – a fully functioning living lab, which facilitates evaluation and testing in a real-life environment. CATCH also has extensive contacts to industry, the NHS and charitable organisation, providing access to a broad range of experiences. The Speech and Hearing group (SPandH) in the Department of Computer Science has a long-standing reputation in researching clinical applications of speech technology and this project will build on world-leading research into automatic recognition of disordered speech.
The project will be co-supervised by Prof Mark Hawley (Director of CATCH and head of the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Research Group, ScHARR) and Dr Heidi Christensen (lecturer in the Speech and Hearing Group in the Department Computer Science (SPandH) and head of the Human Communication Technology Group in CATCH). The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) houses one of the largest concentrations of world leading health services and public health researchers in the UK and came 4th in the UK for the power of our health research in the latest Research Excellence Framework. The Department of Computer Science, within the Faculty of Engineering, was established in 1982 and currently there are over 100 members, including 35 Academics. The department is famous for world-leading research with global impact and came in the top five in the UK for research excellence in the most recent Research Excellence Framework. Further information can be found at, and

Scholarship details
The studentship will cover:
  • The standard UK/EU tuition fee for PhD study
  • Annual tax-free maintenance stipend at the standard UK Research Council rate (currently £14,057 for the 2015/16 academic year)
The scholarship will fund up to three years full-time study, subject to satisfactory progress.
The studentship is open to UK, EU and international applicants. Overseas students may apply but would need to fund the fee differential between the Home/EU fees rate and the higher Overseas tuition fees rate from another source. Due to the demands of the project and the role, the studentship is only available by full-time PhD study.

  • Candidates must have a 2.1 or above in Computer Science, or a closely related subject, and have excellent programming skills.
  • Some prior experience of speech technology applications is highly desirable.
  • Previous exposure to healthcare research and assistive technology would be a distinct advantage, as is other previous experience of carrying out research.
To apply for the studentship, please send your application to Mark Hawley (
Please include the following information in your application;
  • Your CV
  • A Cover letter detailing your suitability for PhD study and for the research topic
  • Two references, preferably with at least one academic reference discussing your suitability for PhD study
  • Details of your academic qualifications and your English Language proficiency (such a UK A levels, GCSEs, a degree from a UK Higher Education institution, or English language qualifications such as the IELTS exam
The deadline for applications to be received is 16th August 2015. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered for the scholarship.
Questions and assistance with your application
Potential candidates are welcome to discuss their application informally with Prof Mark Hawley ( or Dr Heidi Christensen (
Please remember that the deadline for applications to be submitted is Sunday 16th August 2015. 

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