School of Computing and Engineering

Interaction design for smart and pervasive workplaces

Primary supervisor: Dr Jose Abdelnour-Nocera

Start dates: January, May and September of each academic year

Duration: This is a three-year position.

Research context

Research at the University of West London lives in an ecosystem of interdisciplinary research clusters. This PhD position is based in the School of Computing and Engineering. This particular proposal is focused on working digital communities, e.g. telecommuters, mobile workers.

Human work analysis involves user goals, user requirements, tasks and procedures, human factors, cognitive and physical processes, contexts (organisational, social, cultural). In particular in the HCI and human factors tradition, work is analysed as end-user tasks performed within a work domain. The focus is on the user's experience of tasks (procedures) and the artefact environment (constraints in the work domain). Hierarchical Task Analysis (Annett & Duncan, 1967) and Work Domain Analysis (Salmon, Jenkins, Stanton, & Walker, 2010) are among the methods that can be used to analyse the goal-directed tasks, and map the work environmental constraints and opportunities for behaviour. In addition, there is a strong tradition in HCI for studying work with ethnographic methods (Button & Sharrock, 2009) and from sociotechnical perspectives (e.g., Abdelnour-Nocera, Dunckley, & Sharp, 2007). These approaches focus on work as end-user actions performed together with other people in a field setting, that is, the user's experience of using systems are social and organisational experiences. User experience, usability and interaction design are influenced by these approaches and techniques for analysing and interpreting the human work, which eventually manifests in the design of technological products, systems and applications. recent years, researchers in psychology and economics have increasingly called for a consideration of more diverse subject populations.

Research goal

This PhD project is aimed at developing a framework for human-work interaction design that reflects recent advances in the pervasive condition of technology and its impact on the trans-mediated nature and experience of today’s workplace, which is now constituted and configured beyond physical boundaries.  While any work domain can be used as a focus, we have a preference for work settings related to health, safety critical environments or software engineering teams.

Candidate profile

The ideal candidate should have an MSc or equivalent degree with a strong human-computer interaction component. Strong commitment to reaching research excellence and achieving assigned objectives is required, so as ability to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment. It is expected that the PhD candidate will carry out applied research work that will start from the establishment of a theoretical framework, continue with workplace studies to explore the research goals and conclude with the validation of a proposed framework of interaction design for the workplace. 

Background knowledge and/or previous experience in the following areas (in order of preference), though not mandatory, will be considered very favourably: Human-Computer Interaction, Social Sciences: Psychology and/or Sociology

All applicants for whom English is not their first language must also demonstrate their English language proficiency through evidence of IELTS at overall 7 (with 6.5 in all four skills) or by providing access to MA/MSc chapters or published work.

Further information

For general enquiries about the application process visit the Graduate School pages.

Questions regarding academic aspects of the project should be directed to