Collaborative design

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

Collaborative design as a research theme at the Design Group encompasses a broad spectrum of investigations including topics such as teamwork, co-design, participation, inclusion and empowerment. We have expertise in interdisciplinary research and have worked and supervised studies which straddle the disciplines of architecture, placemaking, engineering, graphic design, computing, media and communications and social innovation among others.

Our research interests include:

  • Designing inclusive environments
  • Communication and collaboration in design teams
  • Cross-cultural collaboration
  • Empowering marginalised groups through design (e.g. ethnic minorities, older people, design with neurodiversity, design for mental health
  • Online engagement and collaboration
  • Collaborative storytelling and making
  • Social innovation and creative citizenship
  • Enabling design capabilities and community leadership
  • Participatory design practices
  • Co-designing futures
  • Collaboration and community engagement in the built environment

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

If you are interested in discussing the possibility of undertaking a PhD in any area related to the topics above, please do get in touch with one of the listed supervisors. Check our individual research pages, interests and publications to see who might be the best fit for you; or get in touch with Dr Katerina Alexiou and Dr Nicole Lotz if you are not sure. You will need to develop a research proposal, and do some background reading around your topic.

Current/recent research projects

These are some of the theses our PhD students have been working on:

  • Articulating the value of community engagement in the built environment (OOC DTP Collaborative Doctoral Award) 
  • The ethical decisions in digital product design (Self-funded) 
  • “Inside Mum” – An exploration of the use of service and co-design methods in parenting education for women who have experienced the Criminal Justice System (Self-funded) 
  • Social media and serious offline youth violence (Self-funded) 
  • Gentrification and community-led design: an arts-based exploration of grass roots perspectives (AHRC DesignStar Centre for Doctoral Training) 
  • Beyond the untold: an exploration of the possibilities for participatory design with an adult on the severe autistic spectrum (AHRC DesignStar Centre for Doctoral Training) 
  • Co-design for mental health: an interdisciplinary study on the impact of design thinking on mental health (AHRC DesignStar Centre for Doctoral Training) 
  • Video production in the social welfare charity sector - processes, narrative and ethics (AHRC DesignStar Centre for Doctoral Training) 
  • Exploring practices and understandings of designing inclusively (School studentship) 
  • An integrated analysis of collaborative design processes (Self-funded)

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £15,698 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £7,849 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Sketching out design ideas

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Katerina Alexiou; Dr Nicole Lotz
Email: stem-ei-phd

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.