Research cluster

Critical Data

Researching the political and social dimensions of data-driven and AI technology.

“The Critical Data Studies Cluster is an interdisciplinary initiative that welcomes people from across the University and beyond who study datafication and data-driven systems.”

Morgan Currie, Karen Gregory and Alex Taylor, Critical Data Studies Cluster Leads

Critical Data Studies offers a space for scholars who use critique to study data-driven and AI technical systems. Critical approaches interrogate the structures enabling data-driven tech and AI that too often elide their social, legal and political economic dimensions. Critique allows us to imagine – and build – more socially just alternatives.

Meet our researchers

Addie McGowan

Addie McGowan

Postgraduate Research Fellow
Alex Taylor headshot

Alex Taylor

Reader in Design Informatics
College of Science & Engineering School of Informatics
Ben Collier headshot

Ben Collier

Lecturer in Digital Methods
School of Social and Political Science
Ben Williamson headshot

Ben Williamson

Senior Lecturer in Digital Education
Moray House School of Education and Sport
Benedetta Catanzariti headshot

Benedetta Catanzariti

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Social and Political Science
Caterina Moruzzi headshot

Caterina Moruzzi

Chancellor’s Fellow in Design Informatics
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Edinburgh College of Art
Catherine Montgomery headshot

Catherine Montgomery

Chancellor’s Fellow in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies
School of Social and Political Science
Charles Raab headshot

Charles Raab

Professor Emeritus
School of Social and Political Science
Dave Loder headshot

Dave Loder

Lecturer in Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design
Edinburgh College of Art
Eric Laurier headshot

Eric Laurier

Reader in Geography and Interaction
College of Science & Engineering School of GeoSciences
Gavin Sullivan headshot

Gavin Sullivan

Reader in International Human Rights Law
School of Law
Hemangini Gupta headshot

Hemangini Gupta

Lecturer in Gender and Global Politics
School of Social and Political Science
Isadora Dullaert headshot

Isadora Dullaert

PhD Candidate
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences School of Social and Political Science
Headshot of Joe Noteboom

Joe Noteboom

AI and Data Ethics Intern
School of Social and Political Science
Karen Gregory headshot

Karen Gregory

Senior Lecturer in Sociology
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences School of Social and Political Science
Kevin Guyan headshot

Kevin Guyan

Chancellor’s Fellow
Business School
Lachlan Urquhart headshot

Lachlan Urquhart

Senior Lecturer in Technology Law and Human Computer Interaction
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences School of Law
Michael Barany headshot

Michael Barany

Senior Lecturer in the History of Science
School of Social and Political Science
Morgan Currie headshot

Morgan Currie

Senior Lecturer in Data and Society
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences School of Social and Political Science
Paul Schuler headshot

Paul Schuler

PhD Candidate
School of Social and Political Science
Robin Hill headshot

Robin Hill

Senior Laboratory Manager
College of Science & Engineering School of Informatics
Sotiria Grek headshot

Sotiria Grek

Professor of European and Global Education Governance
School of Social and Political Science
Srravya Chandhiramowuli headshot

Srravya Chandhiramowuli

PhD Candidate
School of Informatics
Tara Capel

Tara Capel

Lecturer in Design Informatics
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Edinburgh College of Art
Vikki Jones headshot

Vikki Jones

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Edinburgh College of Art
Yiru Zhao headshot

Yiru Zhao

PhD Candidate
School of Social and Political Science

Our external researchers

  • Lilian Edwards
    Professor of Law, Innovation and Society, Newcastle University
  • SJ Bennett
    Postdoctoral Research Associate, Durham University
  • Elinor Carmi
    Senior Lecturer in Data Politics & Data Justice, City, University of London

Workshops & Events



A digital collage featuring an abandoned, graffiti-covered building set against an orange background. The building is surrounded by large, cylindrical red and black sensors. Binary code is scattered across the image.

Where are AI’s publics?

An event flyer for "Independent Accounts" by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow, featuring Professor Dan Buck. The event, about the NYC budget since 1989, is on May 13 from 10am-12pm at High School Yards and online. Includes NYC-themed illustrations.

Independent Accounts: Stories of Expertise and Politics in the New York City Budget since 1989

Fred Domer makes an adjustment to the position of a unit before it is tested in an anechoic chamber in the Payload Checkout Facility at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

Book Launch – Tor: From the Dark Web to the Future of Privacy

A bustling city intersection with many people crossing the street in various directions. Background includes tall buildings adorned with large billboards, signage, and storefronts. Some trees without leaves are also visible among the urban scenery.

Data Rights and Literacy in the Datafied Society

A laptopogram displaying a dataset as cloud-like clusters of black blobs on a neutral background. There are three larger collections, almost resembling a map, with some data points leaking out into the negative space.

Datafied Publics: Inaugural Event for EFI Critical Data Studies Cluster

Turquoise background with the text "REIMAGINING PLATFORMS" in large yellow letters, and "October 31, 2022 | University of Edinburgh" in smaller yellow letters below.

Reimagining Platforms Symposium

The image shows a book titled "The Culture and Communities Mapping Project" by Morgan Currie and Melisa Miranda Correa. The cover is olive green with dark purple leaf-like designs. The background features a pink-toned, intricate map pattern.

Book Launch: The Culture & Communities Mapping Project

A person with short, light-colored hair and white-framed glasses is looking slightly to the side with a subtle smile. The image has a sepia tone, and pink diagonal lines decorate the corners. The person is wearing a collared shirt and a jacket.

Selfie Democracy: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and the New Digital Politics

The image shows a busy office with people working on computers. To the left, logos and names of organizations are displayed, including The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Data Culture & Society, Independent Social Research Foundation, INDL, Stuc, and Prospect.

Digital Worker Enquiry: Data, Solidarity & Leverage

Illustration of two hands holding a rectangular device resembling a smartphone. One hand supports the device, while the other hand's index finger is tapping on the screen. The background features diagonal lines with alternating pink and teal dots.

DisInformation – Mapping the Lifecycle of Media Manipulation

A complex network of interconnected blue lines resembling a neural network extends across a dark background. Two parallel rows of blue dots run horizontally near the top and bottom edges of the image, creating a frame-like effect.

Visual Methodologies for Public Participatory Work

Two bubble charts compare "Alt left related News Media" (green backgrounds) and "Antifa related News Media" (red background). CNN and Fox News Network are prominent in the left chart. "Before It's News" is prominent on the right chart.

Situating & Doing Digital Methods

Got something to share?

If you are interested in collaborating, we’d love to hear from you. We also welcome proposals for seminars and workshops – get in touch to discuss how we can work together.

Get in touch

Study opportunities in Critical Data Studies


MSc DIGITAL Sociology

'data has a better idea' lettering printed on window

Understand and gain the foundation for analysing the complex ways that digital technologies and data shape society, institutions, social relations, and culture. Develop essential social and data science skills to explore topics such as political protest, misinformation, future of work, bias and discrimination, and digital mobility. 


MSc Science and Technology in Society

inside space port

Science and technology are powerful agents of change. But government policies, economies, cultures and values shape the development and direction of scientific research and technological innovation. You will explore and examine the complex and rapidly evolving relationships between science, technology, innovation and society. 


MSc Data Science, Technology and Innovation

lines of code on a screen

Develop knowledge and awareness of data intensive applications, and learn to think critically and creatively about governance, ethics and other social issues, and how they interact with technologies. Gain interdisciplinary research skills and data science expertise in both qualitative and quantitative disciplines.  


MA/MSc in Design Informatics

3d model masks in different colours

Gain the foundation for integrating design thinking and data science with an emphasis on exploring the role of data-driven technologies in society and the potential for social good. You will develop an ethically aware, critically reflective technical practice combining theory and research with making and hacking. 


MSC Future Governance

A close-up of a beverage can's pull tab, with the top resembling a sliced red grapefruit. The grapefruit appears juicy and vibrant. The background is a gradient of pink and red, enhancing the fruit's color.

Technology and data are transforming governance across the globe. Explore and analyse the challenges and opportunities that big data brings to the future of democracy. Develop leading-edge knowledge and skills to help shape the world – and your career – by driving positive change. 



Rabbit ears poking out of teacup

Ethical design, and the use and governance of artificial intelligence and other data-intensive technologies, are critical to our future. Gain the interdisciplinary skills and knowledge to navigate complex systems and roles with transparency, fairness, and respect for individual and human rights, and social needs.  

Discover more at Edinburgh Futures Institute

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People meeting at a desk, looking at designs laid out on the table, green tint on image.


Brick clocktower and front entrance of EFI building.

Our new home


Join us to challenge, create, and make change happen.