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BAE Systems sponsored iCase PhD studentship: Human-Centred Design for AI Agents in Underwater Maritime Applications


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Friday 01 March 2024
Reference:  ENG1744

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship to conduct Human Factors/Human-Computer Interaction research into the interactions between human teams and Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents in underwater maritime applications. This is a collaborative doctoral training project with BAE Systems and will have the opportunity to undertake a 3-month internship at a BAE Systems site. 

This PhD project recognises the fact that control rooms within future underwater maritime vessels will increasingly utilise sophisticated AI agents that aim to support human teams in their working tasks, for example in navigating the boat. The use of such additional ‘team member/s’ raises a myriad of complex Human Factors issues related to human-AI trust relationships, workload management, decision-making processes, and so on. Specifically, the research will focus on developing our understanding of how human-AI systems should be designed to optimise safety and performance and lead to positive user experience for the human agents. One design variable of particular interest will be anthropomorphism, that is, the extent to which AI agent incorporates human-like qualities (in voice and visual form). 

The applicant appointed will join the Human Factors Research Group, an inter-disciplinary team in the Faculty of Engineering with approximately 60 researchers, academics, and students working on a variety of projects aiming to develop human-centred theories, methods and approaches to tackle contemporary, real world Engineering design challenges.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated person who meets the academic requirements for enrolment for PhD research at the University of Nottingham. You will have a 1st class or good 2:1 honours degree and/or an MSc in a relevant subject, such as Human Factors/Ergonomics, Applied Psychology, Human-Computer Interaction, UX design, Computer Science. Moreover, you should be able to demonstrate an enquiring and rigorous approach to human-centred research, together with a strong intellect and disciplined work habits. The research may also involve testing of human-AI collaboration and experience of prototyping and user-based evaluation is also desirable. Good team-working, flexibility and communication skills are all essential skills for the successful candidate.

The PhD position is available to start anytime up until October 2024. The funding is for UK students (although dual nationality can also be considered). This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as an enhanced stipend of £18,622 (p.a., tax free) from UKRI plus enhancement from the sponsor company (approx. £6000 p.a., tax free). 

If you wish to apply, please send a CV to, before Friday 1st March 2024, outlining your interests in this PhD and how your background is relevant.  

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society. 

Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr. Cath Harvey (

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