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EFI / Baillie Gifford PhD Programme

The Edinburgh Futures Institute PhD studentships funded by global investment firm Baillie Gifford.

**Applications are now closed for this opportunity***

The Edinburgh Futures Institute is delighted to announce the launch of the five PhD studentships for entry in A.Y. 2020/2021, to support research into the ethical challenges posed by the growing use of data and artificial intelligence. The studentships funded by global investment firm Baillie Gifford, offer a stipend, tuition fees and an annual research budget.

Students are invited to apply for projects on five topics:

  • The University of Data: Ethical and Social Futures of Data-Driven Education – Karen Gregory (School of Social and Political Science) and Jen Ross (Moray House School of Education and Sport). Click here for more information.
  • A Data Ethics Framework for Agriculture – Kirsteen Shields and Jon Hillier (Global Academies). Click here for more information.
  • AI and Ethical Decision Making in a Resource-Limited Health Care Environment  – Ewen Harrison (Usher Institute) and Sarah Cunningham Burley (Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society). Click here for more information.
  • Sex Robots Among Us: Ethical and Feminist issues – Elinor Mason (School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Science) and Sarah Parry (School of Social and Political Science). Click here for more information.
  • Fair and Ethical Credit Decisions – Galina Andreeva (Business School) and Michael Rovatsos (School of Informatics) Click here for more information.

Students will be co-supervised by an interdisciplinary team and will receive their degree from the College where their lead supervisor is based.

While the selected student will be supervised within the School, they will also take part in collaborative cohort activities as one of five Ph.D. students in the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s Baillie Gifford programme in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence. Headed by Shannon Vallor, the first Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence (EFI), the aim of this programme is to cultivate multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge in the application of ethical values to data-driven technologies. More broadly, the goal is to develop the shared vocabulary and methodologies needed to support new models of education and research into the complex challenges and opportunities that data and AI present.

Information for prospective students who have applied to study at the University of Edinburgh can be found on the following link:


For more information, including a detailed description of the projects and how to apply, please follow the links to the individual studentships.
Applications are invited from outstanding students from any country.

Application deadline: 12 noon, 15th May 2020. Interviews are likely to take place by the beginning of June.‌‌

How to apply

Prospective students should review the list of potential project proposals which will be advertised from week beginning Monday 6th April.
Queries regarding project-specific eligibility should be directed to the relevant project lead supervisor.
General enquiries can be directed to Iwona Soppa, Baillie Gifford Data & AI Ethics Programme Support Administrator.
Unless otherwise stated, applicants may submit applications up until the application deadline of 12 noon, 15th May 2020.

Required documentation:

  • Personal statement
  • CV
  • 2 references (at least 1 academic reference)
  • Degree transcripts (translations should be provided if the originals are not in English)
  • Evidence of English Language Proficiency (if relevant).

Required documentation should be submitted as a combined PDF document. For the entry criteria, please refer to the information provided in the project link.
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that they can meet the English Language requirements of the University of Edinburgh: English Language Requirements

Key facts

  • Open to home, EU and international students
  • Tuition Fee and 4 years stipend at UKRI rates (estimated to be in the region of £15,245 for 2020/21)
  • Annual research support budget of £2,000
  • Application deadline: noon, 15th May 2020

Please note: We are aware that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may require arrangements for remote interviews by videoconference; the Edinburgh Futures Institute will adapt our recruitment procedures for these positions as necessary to remain in observance of current public health guidance.

About the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Futures Institute

The University of Edinburgh is research-intensive institution. Our researchers continually challenge the boundaries of knowledge. We have an impressive track record of the highest levels of research excellence. Edinburgh is a global university, consistently ranked one of the best 25 universities in the world. We are 4th in the UK for research power in both main league tables based on REF2014.

The Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), aims to facilitate and catalyse cross-school and multidisciplinary working at the University of Edinburgh with a particular focus on data driven innovation and futures. EFI works across themes of Democracy, Society, Education, Creativity, Justice, Health, Sustainability, Economy and History. The Institute is developing a new suite of undergraduate and post graduate programmes, and collaborative research and engagement projects working with external organisations, aimed at promoting human flourishing and sustainable futures in the context of rapid and complex change.

For more information on being a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh visit the following website:

The University of Edinburgh – postgraduate study