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Innovation for Dementia & Cognitive Impairment: Evaluation of Digital Health and Wellbeing Apps in ‘Real-Life’ Residential Settings

Eligibility: UK/EU applicants and existing Coventry University employees with the required experience

Award Details: £15,000 bursary per annum plus tuition fees

Duration: 3 years 6 months fixed term. If the PhD is completed within 3 years the PhD holder will be eligible to apply for one year’s post-doctoral funding to continue the work

Application deadline: August 31st (5pm)

For informal enquiries about this studentship, please contact Professor Ala Szczepura.

Congratulations on taking your first steps toward a Research Degree as part of the Data Driven Research and Innovation collaborative programme. As an ambitious and innovative University, we’re investing an initial £100m into our new research strategy, ‘Excellence with Impact’. Through original approaches from world-leading experts, we’re aiming for our research to make a tangible difference to the way we live. As a research student you are an integral part of Coventry’s lively and diverse research community and contribute to our reputation for excellence. With our exceptional facilities and superb support mechanisms you are afforded every opportunity for academic success.

The Project

The use of technology-based products and services to slow cognitive decline in older adults or support those living with dementia has gained significant popularity in recent years. But evaluations in real-life conditions are lacking, often because of difficulties in collecting outcome data. This PhD is hosted by Coventry University in close collaboration with the University of West England (UWE) Bristol and strategic residential partners from the Housing Association and Specialist Care sectors. It forms part of an exciting UK-wide multi-sector consortium created to find technology solutions to support healthy ageing, and improved management of long-term health conditions.

The project will explore the potential for digital innovations (e.g. visual arts and music) to improve health and wellbeing for a frail elderly population. Interventions will be evaluated in selected high-tech residential environments ('living labs’) to assess whether they produce improvements in clinical outcomes, residents’ quality of life and enable better support provision by carers. Secondary outcomes measured will include positive impact on activities of daily living and reduced health and social care costs. 

The student will be based at Coventry University, working with the Serious Games centre where he or she will learn about cutting edge methods for the development and validation of internet and mobile-based solutions. Through joint supervision from within UWE, the student will develop skills in mental health research, including dementia; and through Coventry’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations gain practical experience of the Age Friendly City Initiative.

We are working towards a prospective UK clinical trial with colleagues in Montreal Canada so an international visit will be planned. Candidates will require a higher degree or equivalent in a related subject (examples include sociology, psychology, ethnomusicology, performing arts, and health related disciplines). Candidates must be able to demonstrate sound knowledge and experience of research methodologies that are commonly used in social research.

About the Centres/Departments

Serious Games: globally renowned Applied Research Centre undertaking ground breaking research on human interface technologies and development of internet and mobile based solutions. Links to the Institute for Creative Enterprise which focuses on digital innovation.

The Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations undertakes innovative, impactful, world-class research, hosting the Age Friendly City Initiative promoting active ageing projects working with Age UK and Coventry Older Voices (400 older volunteers).

The University of the West of England (UWE) has international research strengths in Living Lab environments (Bristol Robotics Laboratory & Personalised Assisted Living Studio); sensing (Institute of Bio-Sensing); and long-term conditions and their self-management.

Successful Applicants

Successful applicants will have:

  • a taught Masters degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. sport science, occupational therapy, physiotherapy), involving a dissertation of standard length written in English in the relevant subject area with a minimum of a merit profile: 60% overall module average and a minimum of a 60% dissertation mark
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a three-year period of study
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)


  • knowledge and/or experience in the subject
  • a good knowledge of cognitive impairment, dementia care and care of elderly populations
  • experience of qualitative and quantitative research and analysis
  • experience of (or a willingness to quickly learn) about use of innovative technologies within elderly care.

Eligibility & Application procedure

Application Procedure:

Application information can be found in our how to apply section. Before completing the application please contact Professor Ala Szczepura for an initial informal discussion about the opportunity. You can also find the Research Studentship Application Form here.


UK/EU applicants are eligible to apply that meet the academic requirements, the eligibility criteria can be found at the making an application page. Existing Coventry University employees with the required experience are also eligible.