PhD Studentship, AI for the Future of Society: Technology, Ethics and Societal Values

Southampton, United Kingdom
£15,609 pa for full-time study up to 3.5 years
Wednesday, 14 April 2021
End of advertisement period
Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Web & Internet Science

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Tuesday 01 June 2021
Reference:  1360921FP

Supervisory Team:    Professor Age Chapman

Project description

The Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton is offering a PhD position in collaboration with Dstl and the Alan Turing Institute.  

As the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and armed forces become more reliant on systems that incorporate AI and Data Science techniques, it is increasingly important that ethical considerations concerning their design and use are taken into account.  

A PhD project, based in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, will draw on both computational sciences and social sciences in order to understand AI and its application as a socio-technical system, exploring the conditions necessary for data and AI to be consistent with social values.  The research will generate new knowledge at the cutting edge of AI and Ethics, increase public understanding and identify potential changes in work practice and policy.

Project proposals may address, but are not limited to, the following themes:  

  • What kind of human control is necessary for AI applications within national security and defence?
  • How does AI impact strategies and capabilities for offensive cyber, and what are the regulatory gaps that emerge?
  • Should AI applications for national security and defence be audited for ethical purposes to ensure that they align with values of our societies and of the MOD?
  • What is the relationship between AI and Data Science technology and societal values? How can we keep track of the changes, with a particular focus on defence values?

You will be part of a cohort of students investigating the impact of AI on society and will be supervised by an interdisciplinary team of academic and Dstl staff. Your research will be supported by relevant training, such as MSc modules, opportunities for industry experience and activities hosted by the Alan Turing Institute.  

The Web Science Institute  is an entrepreneurial non-profit research institute which supports interdisciplinary doctoral training in Web Science Innovation and AI for the Future of Society, and is linked with the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence whose purpose is to maximise the impact of science and technology for the defence and security of the UK. 

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.


This studentship is open to UK nationals (without dual nationality) who are eligible for Home fees. 

Start Date: October 2021

Entry Requirements

A good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in a computational subject or relevant discipline from the social sciences, plus evidence of multidisciplinary research.  Advanced AI experience is not needed but some programming experience would be desirable.   

Closing date: 1 June 2021. 

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,609 pa for full-time study up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Apply online, programme (Research), 2021/22, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering. Next page “PhD Web Science (Full time)”. The Research Area, please add “Web Science Institute – AI for the Future of Society”.  

Applications should include

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