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Research and PhD programmes

Our Design research vision is to be a leading provider of design research that responds to major societal issues and is at the forefront of new and emerging technologies and design practice. Design at Brunel is an interdisciplinary activity and our research approach seeks to integrate human, environmental and technological elements – combining human centred design investigation with technological or systems factors, enabled by design thinking and processes.

Brunel Design has a well-established record of research excellence, with multidisciplinary, product related design research grounded on strong engineering design traditions. Research in Design is organised according to following three thematic priorities:

  • Human Centred Research (through Inclusive Design, Design for Aging Demographics, Perception Enhancement and (HCDI), the Human Centred Design Institute) 
  • Design for Sustainability (through Sustainability and Social Responsibility,  Cleaner Electronics,  and Advanced Materials and Manufacture)
  • Design for Innovation and the Creative Industries’ (including Design Innovation Management, Open Design, Design Entrepreneurship, Creativity and the Digital Economy, Digital design - digital production,  and Information Architecture)

We provide challenging research opportunities and experiences for our research students, and offer consultancy and research services to industry. Our research is funded through competitive peer-reviewed awards from a range of UK Research Councils (RCUK, AHRC, EPSRC, Innovate UK, European Union, and charitable foundations. Research-led knowledge transfer projects confirm our strong industry relationships with both major international firms (Jaguar, Land Rover, Samsung) as well as SMEs in the regional economy. Research Knowledge Transfer and Industry Funded Research are driven through Co-Innovate, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

PhD Programmes

Study for a PhD in one of the UK's leading Design departments and you will work with top design researchers (67% of our research was rated Internationally Excellent/World Leading in the last REF).  Brunel has invested to enhance research students’ experience, including skills training at the Brunel Graduate School, and funding for attending conferences and workshops. Research students have access to office space and computers, and are integral to the Department’s research activity. Areas of expertise include:

  • Human Centred Design
  • Trust in autonomous vehicles
  • Inclusive Design and Design of Healthcare Systems
  • Perception Enhancement
  • Design and Sustainability – theory, methods and tools
  • Design for 3D printing and printed electronics
  • 4D printing /  shape memory materials for additive manufacturing
  • Social impact of distributed manufacturing systems
  • Design Innovation Management
  • Digital design and Digital  production
  • Open design and Co –design
  • Social Innovation
  • Pedagogy and curriculum

Related PhD courses

You are very welcome to undertake your PhD or MPhil in one of our research areas and work alongside our researchers. As a research student you'll benefit from the latest work by internationally-renowned academics and the support of our Graduate School. Many of our research initiatives involve successful collaborations with industry, the public sector, business and government, both in the UK and overseas. We have many funded and non-funded research degree opportunities available. For more information, visit our Research Degrees homepage

Research Centres

The College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences hosts four research centres:

Big Data Analytics

Autonomous Systems and Robotics

Human-Centred Research

Brunel Automotive Hub

These centres provide interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cutting research platforms. These platforms support and complement our work on global challenges in health, environment, energy and manufacturing.

Research Institutes

Many of our academics are also members of the following institutes:

Institute of Materials and Manufacturing 

Institute of Environment, Health and Societies