PhD Studentship - Variation Theory and Conceptual Change, Aston University, UK

Publish Date: May 27, 2015

Deadline: Jun 30, 2015

Engineering & Applied Science

Contract Type:  Fixed Term (3 Years)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  Tuesday 30 June 2015
Reference:  R150055

Applications are invited to apply for one of our seven three-year PhD studentships, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Computer Science Research Group at Aston University. The successful applicant will join the newly formed Aston Institute for Systems Analytics.

This studentship is combined with a teaching assistant role. The successful candidate will be required to carry out up to seven hours per week of teaching support for a distance learning programme under the direction of the project supervisor; therefore the student must be capable of teaching on a specific module. Details of teaching responsibilities can be found here and a list of taught modules can be found here.


Start date: September/October 2015

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance of £13,863 in 2014/15 paid in monthly instalments. Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £10,914 in 2014/15.

Background of the Projects

The learning of programming is regarded as difficult and involving a number of conceptual changes around critical concepts. Although there is research into problems that learners have with the mental models of programmers, minimal effort has gone into design learning sequences to overcome the learning obstacles (threshold concepts). The objective of this project is to establish a collaboration to explore the use of pedagogical patterns based on the use of variation theory to address conceptual understanding of threshold concepts in learning to program.

We currently have a number of projects available, for details of the various projects please visit the Computer Science research website at

Please note that a maximum of three projects can be applied for, and a project proposal should be submitted for each project as part of your application.  The proposal should detail your relevant experience and knowledge of the subject, and details of how you intend to develop the research problem and structure your research as part of the project team.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in computer science, mathematics, engineering or a related discipline. Programming experience and excellent analytical and presentational skills, along with a demonstrable interest in the chosen research topic, are essential.

For informal enquiries about this opportunity, contact Dr Errol Thompson (, tel.: +44 (0)121 204 3294).

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available at

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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Host Countries

United Kingdom