AHRC funded PhD studentship at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with BBC Scotland: “Children with Learning Disabilities as Digital Audiences”
Applications are invited for a full PhD studentship in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow to work in collaboration with the Children’s Department at BBC Scotland. The aim of the project is to explore the provision and design of digital media by the BBC for older children with learning disabilities. This exciting opportunity will require the researcher to divide his or her time between the University of Glasgow and the Children’s Department within BBC Scotland (situated in the Pacific Quay in Glasgow). The student will have unique access to the Children’s Department, working amongst BBC staff to capture a sense of the existing provision of digital content for children with learning disabilities and the ways in which BBC Scotland engage with this audience. The project will then continue through a small scale qualitative study that will capture how, why and when digital media is used, interpreted and enjoyed by members of this specific audience. The student will then return to the BBC with their research findings and work alongside colleagues to develop a ‘pitch’ for the design or redesign of digital content that will allow the BBC to respond directly to the needs and desires of their targeted audience.
The specific question this project poses is how we might re-imagine content for differently-abled audiences that is appropriate to both their cognitive abilities and their personal/social needs and desires.
A supervisory team from across both institutions will oversee this work and full research training (including audience research skills if required) will be offered. The team will include Dr. Amy Holdsworth and Professor Karen Lury from the University of Glasgow and Ms. Sara Harkins (Head of Children’s BBC Scotland) with relevant support from professional colleagues within BBC Scotland.
The studentship is funded for three years to commence in October 2016 and covers tuition fees at the Home/EU rate. Home students and EU students who have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the award will also receive a maintenance bursary (stipend) of approx. £14,296 for 16-17 plus an additional £550 travel allowance. In addition, the student is eligible to receive up to £1,000 a year from the BBC to support travel or other expenses directly related to the doctoral research, and will be given use of a desk and computer at the University of Glasgow and appropriate access and resources at the BBC. All AHRC Collaborative PhD students automatically become part of the UK-wide Collaborative Doctoral Partnership development scheme which will provide training in a range of skills needed for research within museums, archives, galleries and heritage organisations.
Informal enquiries are welcome. Please write to Dr. Amy Holdsworth (Amy.Holdsworth@glasgow.ac.uk ) in the first instance.
Candidates ideally should have:
- A good 2.1 Honours (or B.A.) degree in a relevant Arts or Social Science discipline.
- A Masters degree in a related discipline or appropriate professional experience within children’s media, digital media, audience development, working with children and young people with disabilities.
- A good understanding of contemporary Children’s Television, digital media and issues and debates within disability studies
- An interest in, or first-hand knowledge of, audience research.
Applicants should be able to demonstrate strong research capabilities and be fluent in spoken and written English.
Applications should include:
- A statement of no more than 1,000 words indicating what skills and experience you have that will be relevant for the project.
- A current CV
- Degree transcripts (this may be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
- An example of writing – e.g. academic essay, professional report – up to 3000 words in length
Applications to be sent to Jeanette.Berrie@glasgow.ac.uk (Research Administrator, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow) with the subject line BBC CDA.
Closing Date: Wednesday 15th June 2016
Interviewees will be notified by Thursday 23rd June and interviews will take place at the University of Glasgow on Friday 1st July 2016.
Through initial audience development work, colleagues at BBC Scotland have already observed the ways in which digital content designed for a young (‘pre-school’) audience is being used by older children with learning disabilities. They have recognized that while these young people may have less sophisticated ‘operational’ abilities their desire and interest in age appropriate content is not necessarily affected. In simple terms, games or interactive challenges aimed at 4-7year olds may represent an appropriate operational challenge (how to work the game, how to move about and between different parts of the page) but are inappropriate in terms of content (older children and young people are more likely to respond positively to content such as WolfBlood rather than In the Night Garden or ‘Mr. Tumble’). The project will therefore focus on this particular issue and ask how we might re-imagine content for differently-abled audiences that is appropriate to their cognitive abilities and their personal/social needs and desires.
Aims and objectives:
The aims and objectives of this collaborative project are designed to both reflect upon and develop the BBC’s relationship with its differently abled child audience.
- To explore the provision of content for children with learning disabilities: Initial stages of the research will explore the existing provision of digital content for children with learning disabilities and the ways in the children’s department at BBC Scotland engage with this audience (through audience development initiatives, for example). This initial ‘snapshot’ accompanied by critical investigation of academic literature on children, disability and media will form a building block for the student to design and implement a qualitative audience study.
- To conduct a small-scale qualitative audience study of children with learning disabilities as digital audiences/users: Utilizing the appropriate methodologies (see below) the student will capture how, why and when digital media is used, interpreted and enjoyed by children with learning disabilities. This fieldwork will importantly also offer the child the opportunity to reflect upon and discuss their use of digital media (e.g. their preferences, desires, likes and dislikes).
- The student will disseminate research findings through traditional academic outputs and through partnership with the BBC: One of the principle objectives of the project is for the research to have an avenue of dissemination within the BBC to allow the institution to reflect upon and develop their own practices and forms of audience engagement. The links with BBC Scotland and its contacts present opportunities for the research to be accessed by other stakeholder communities and organisations (such as ‘for Scotland’s Disabled Children’ (fSDC)).
- To implement research findings through the production of a BBC ‘pitch’: Through the student’s involvement at BBC Scotland he or she will utilise their research on this specific child audience in the development, design or redesign of games, applications or website provision for this audience.