School of Psychology

PhD Funding Opportunities

New PhD Funding Opportunity in the School of Psychology

Human-Robot Interactions

Supervisor: Dr Joost Dessing

The importance of electronic devices in human society is becoming increasingly important.  Robots have allowed production in plants to become highly automatized, while different types of robots are being designed to complete many tasks traditionally performed by humans (e.g., waiting in restaurants). In the future, robots will likely become an intricate part of daily life. It is not trivial to consider the impact of this on humans, who in the end must interact with the robots. An important question, applying to all applications involving robots, is how to shape a robot’s behaviour to afford the optimal and most natural interaction with humans. This project focuses on this overall aim, with an emphasis of movement. Human-robot interactions likely benefit from a mutual understanding - by the robot as well as the human - of action capabilities of the counterpart. Research has examined how robots can adjust their movements based on learned knowledge of human action capabilities; much less attention has been given to how humans adapt to the robot’s action capabilities. Traditionally, robots move in a stereotypical jerky manner, but the human understanding of its action capabilities is likely helped if the robot moves in a human-like fashion. A key question thus is what are the essential features of human-like motion in this regard. This PhD project will address these questions in the context of cooperative arm movement tasks.

For more information about this opportunity, please contact Dr Joost Dessing (

This funded award is made by Northern Ireland Department for the Economy (DfE).  Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,296 in 2016/17) depends on the applicant being either an ordinary UK resident or an EU resident who has lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship. Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only. For further details on eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria), please click here.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this PhD project, then you must contact Dr Dessing before submitting an application.

Queen’s uses an on-line application system. Full details of this can be found on the Applying to Queen's pages.

Please alert your potential referees to the fact that you are applying as once your application is submitted an automatic system generates an email to them requesting a reference.


Applicants will be interviewed by their potential supervisor(s) and also by the School’s Postgraduate Research Selection Panel. You will also be asked to give a short (7 minute) presentation on a research related topic.

Following the interview applicants are contacted by the University with the outcome of the process. If successful you may be accepted for a place to study with funding. Alternatively you may be offered a place to study but without funding, in the current competitive environment we are unable to offer funding to all applicants.

Application Timeline

The closing date for applications is 5.00 pm, Thursday 27 July 2017. Interviews will take place on Thursday 3 August 2017.