MPhil/PhD studentship in the impact of generative artificial intelligence on higher education skills development

Investing in excellence: studentship opportunities

The University of Derby is seeking to recruit Studentships in Learning, Teaching and Academic Practice. Seven projects have been identified to support the pedagogic core of the University’s learning and teaching. The projects aim to ensure that we are research led in our practice and have a strategic approach to the evaluation of the impact of our approaches to student support, developing skills and employability, education for sustainable development, inclusivity, and generative AI. Of the seven projects, we will recruit to three.

The following full-time postgraduate research studentship is one of the seven possible projects available. This full-time postgraduate research studentship is in the public services area of research in the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care.

Qualification type: Location: Funding amount: Hours: Closes: Interview: Start date:
MPhil/PhD Derby, UK £18,622 stipend pa + UK home tuition fees (£4,712) full time Friday 5 January 2024* 24 January to 31 January 2024 March 2024

The successful applicant will receive a maintenance stipend (based on the minimum stipend defined by UKRI, currently £18,622 for the academic year 2023/24) and home MPhil/PhD tuition fees (£4,712 - subject to amendment) only up to the target submission date.

The intended intake period is March 2024.

The successful applicant will be expected to complete their MPhil/PhD within 3 years on the MPhil/PhD route, contribute to the College REF submission and get involved in the wider research activities of the College.

Applicants will become part of a friendly and welcoming team and will be supported and managed by their supervisors.

The vacancy details are as follows:


The purpose of this studentship is to understand the impact that generative artificial intelligence (AI) has on the development of skills programmes in Higher Education.

Project objectives

The purpose of this studentship is to understand the impact that generative artificial intelligence (AI) has on the development of skills programmes in Higher Education.

Project description

The public release of ChatGPT, a Generative AI software tool raised concern amongst the Higher Education community predominantly in relation to academic standards and the integrity of assessment. OpenAI released GPT-4 in March 2023 building on the capabilities of the previous version. In casual chat prompts the difference between versions is negligible but GPT-4 outperforms its predecessor in exams and tests e.g., it passes a simulated bar exam with a score akin to the top 10% of test takers . Google’s AI engine Bard has recently launched and a wide range of specialist tools such as Jenni and Consensus which have specific applications of relevance to HE.

The discussion around Generative AI and its impact in Higher Education continues with the main themes of awareness, risks to academic integrity, assessment design and opportunities. The Dept. for Education have released a briefing note, March 2023, with key messages to the sector on the opportunities and challenges presented by the tools, likewise many sector bodies are beginning to explore the impact on their accredited programmes.

It is no understatement to say that Generative AI tools will fundamentally change not only HE but the employment sector. There is an urgent need to evaluate the skill sets required by a changing graduate employment market, develop approaches for the delivery, and create methodologies for the evaluation of their success.

Potential project impact

The project will be framed by institutional skills initiatives and programmes such as Develop@Derby and commence with an evaluation of its impact on key student success measures such as graduate outcomes.

A multi-stakeholder analysis including, for example, local and national employers, academics, professional service staff and students will allow the project to conceptualise the demands of the changing graduate employment market and make recommendations on key focuses and approaches for skills development and delivery.

The project will critically evaluate methodologies and tools that assess the impact of skill development and apply this learning to existing skills programmes like Develop@Derby.

The project outputs are expected to inform the institutions strategic thinking and implementation of policy & strategy related o curriculum design and delivery.

Principal accountabilities and responsibilities

In this project, successful applicants will be required to:

The successful applicant will become adept at managing research projects and adhering to timeframes for key milestone deliverables.

The project will require ongoing engagement with multiple stakeholders. This provides successful candidates with unparalleled opportunities to develop in-demand skills and experience and develop a strong institutional network that will enhance their future employment prospects.

Applicants will need to evidence the following essential attributes, skills, and abilities:

To apply 

Please review our entry requirements before submitting your application and check out the 'Getting Started' section below.

Completed applications should be submitted via our online application system quoting funding reference: HPSC_ Artificial Intelligence 03_1123

Closing dates for applications: Friday 5 January 2024.*

*(Please note, we encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible as we reserve the right to close before 5 January 2024 if a high volume of applications is received.)  

Interviews: 24 January to 31 January 2024. 

If you have not been invited for an interview by the interview date, please assume your application has been unsuccessful.  

For other enquiries which are subject-specific please contact:

Find out more about our Public Services.

Apply for this SE studentship post

Getting started

Before you begin your application, make sure you have:

Studentship funding reference code

This is provided on the individual studentship advert and must be specified in your application.

Personal statement

A 500-word personal statement outlining your suitability for the studentship project. This is a mandatory requirement and you must upload it into your application. You should include your reasons for applying for the studentship, your experience in the field, how you feel you would benefit from studying and relevant information about your previous studies.

Your CV

A CV outlining your academic and professional experience.


Your qualification details including grades and dates taken. You will have the opportunity to upload scanned copies of your qualification certificates and transcripts in the application. If you have no formal qualifications, you can also state this in your application.

Passport/birth certificate

A scanned copy of your passport or full birth certificate. This will help us verify your application to study with us.

Academic references

Two signed academic references. This is optional at application stage but highly encouraged. If successful in your application, two academic references will be a mandatory requirement of admission. The references should be in written format, signed and dated from either a supervisor or tutor from your most recent studies.