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Design of virtual immersive environments for advanced anatomy training

Virtual immersive environments, including those that are anticipated to become available in the context of the Metaverse – a future immersive virtual world envisaged as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet – hold significant potential for future healthcare education.

Whereas some commercial organisations are pioneering the development of dedicated immersive solutions in this area, structured research programmes based on state-of-the-art user-centred design processes are required for investigating issues of interactivity, usability, and inclusivity. Such research efforts will be critical for these prospective educational mediums to achieve positive impact.

The project will focus on design of an innovative immersive educational medium for training of future healthcare professionals, relying on a world-class university online anatomy learning resource.

The successful candidate will take responsibility for design, planning, execution, and evaluation of a range of activities with end users and relevant stakeholders. The selected candidate will play a key role in understanding opportunities and barriers towards inclusive access to immersive virtual training environments for healthcare education, and will develop a proof-of-concept demonstration for access to high-quality anatomical data within the virtual environment.

The ideal candidate’s profile combines proficiency in state-of-the-art user-centred design processes with technical competency in relation to a broad range of computer science techniques, including data integration across resources and interfacing with image databases and metadata repositories. A Masters’ degree is desired but not essential.

Doctoral Research (PhD) programmes are a key component of the Brunel strategy to deliver world-class research and achieve positive impact, and Doctoral Researchers are valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their team. A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time (6 years part-time), with yearly intakes in January, April, and October.

The successful candidate will work in the Brunel Design School and will be supervised by Dr Federico Colecchia, who specialises in emerging technologies and innovation at the intersection between technical development and user-centred design. They will have access to a broad network of relevant stakeholders and will benefit from a range of support services that Brunel University London offers to their Doctoral Researchers, including professional skills and career development support.

For informal enquiries about the research project, please email

The University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1), or international equivalent. A Master’s degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Related Research Group(s)

Digital Design Lab

Digital Design Lab - User-centred research, innovation, consultancy and knowledge transfer aimed at design, development and evaluation of innovative digital and digital-physical systems, products, services and experiences.