PhD Studentship, StoryFutures

Egham, United Kingdom
21 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
13 Dec 2018
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Sociology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Geography

Location:  Egham
Closing Date:  Thursday 13 December 2018

Micro Machines: A critical analysis of the networked production, and the freelance labour geographies of the Computer Games industry

StoryFutures is an innovative and ambitious project that aims to define and develop next generation storytelling approaches in the creative industries. It is focused on a cluster of creative, immersive and technological companies to the West of London. The scope of this PhD project sits within Theme 2 of the overall project, and the overall aim of the project is to ask ‘how do freelancers and micro-businesses in the computer games industry connect and collaborate within the complex networks of production, and how does this help or hinder growth?’ 

Specifically, the project will explore how creative and immersive industry micro-businesses and freelancers can develop new products, what resources they need to achieve this (financial, networked, collective, social and geographical), and what value does this bring to the cluster as a whole (defined along similar thematic lines). The project itself will focus on one of the most dynamic sectors in the cluster; the computer games industry. It will develop an understanding of how networks (social, collective and commercial) aid in the development of value (broadly defined) of computer game companies within the sector. With a specific focus on micro-business (in the UK, this is defined as companies employing under 10) and freelancers, the project will research how they collaborate, network and ultimately grow. Particularly, the project will be concerned with how achieving this ‘growth’ crosscuts with the deeper working relationships and emotional labour involved in ‘creative’ freelance work. 

Hence, utilising the vast range of institutions, companies and contacts that are part of the Story Futures project, this PhD will create new ways of understanding just how valuable different kinds of networking can be to creative industry micro-businesses and freelancers, and the impact this has on the sector economically, but also the impact it has on the broader socio-political realm of freelance work. The project would also be working closely with Ukie, the UK’s computer games trade body. This would involve regular visits to their offices in Central London, and the opportunity to meet with their staff to get advice on the project and to work collaboratively to produce new datasets both quantitative and qualitative as part of the wider StoryFutures project. 

The research methodology will be mixed, but focus on a networked approach that combines quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic approaches. Blending social network analysis with in-depth worker and worker ethnographies, the project will highlight best practice, and model this toward producing industrial knowledge and policy, as well as a critical commentary on labour practices that are produced and how it affects change (or not) in wider sector. Ultimately, the project will make a unique contribution that narrates the lives, working practices and economic contribution of freelancers and micro-business in the computer games industry 

The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in social science and a deep understanding of network methodologies both quantitative and qualitative. Ideally, the candidate will have a MA or MSc in a social science with relevant research training in advanced methods. Working knowledge of Gephi, UCInet, SocNet or any other social network analytical software would be desirable. 

The PhD is to be jointly supervised by Dr Oli Mould (lead supervisor) in the Department of Geography and Prof Mark Lycett (co-supervisor) in the School of Management. 

The studentship includes a stipend of £16,777 (plus fees at home/EU rates) for three years. It will start in January 2019 or as close as possible thereafter. 

There will also be the opportunity to engage with the StoryFutures project more broadly, along with their travel, networking and business-focused opportunities and events. 

For an informal discussion, please contact Dr Oli Mould at

Applicants should submit the following to Dr Oli Mould no later than 13 December 2018: 

  • A two-page curriculum vitae, including contact details of one academic referee 
  • A 1 to 2 page letter outlining their qualification for the studentship; 
  • A writing sample if such is available 

Shortlisted applicants will be notified shortly thereafter. Shortlisted candidates will be required to make a 10-minute on their proposed take on this project. Interviews are scheduled to be held at Royal Holloway’s Egham campus on week commencing 7th January 2019.