On Monday the 25th June 2018, PhD By Design will hold a one-day event prior to the Design Research Society (DRS) 2018 conference at the University of Limerick to vocalise, discuss and work through some of the many issues of conducting a practice-based PhD in Design. The event will bring together designers undertaking practice-based doctoral research as well as supervisors to explore the many aspects of knowledge production within and across academic institutions.

Since 2014,  the PhD by Design platform provides a supportive and engaged environment for design research students in which to share experiences, dilemmas, failures and doubts connected to practice-based research in order to strengthen but also push the boundaries of the wider practice-based design research community.

In connection to the DRS2018 conference which runs from the 25th - 28th June, this one day event will explore how and to what extent design research(ers) can be a catalyst for change. We invite participants to interrogate their role as catalyst of change in relation to their PhD research.


●     How does your PhD in Design, frame and address the societal problems that face us?

●     Where do you see your role as early career researcher when wanting to act as catalyst of change?

●     What values and worldviews do you draw on when working towards change?

●     What kind of change do you want to bring about through design?

●     With whom do you collaborate in order to bring about change and how do you negotiate different agendas?

●     What desirable or undesirable effects does your practice-based research have?

●     In what ways do you think that your research is re-shaping the relationship between different social, economic and political actors?

●     In what ways do you think your PhD is re-framing ideas about what design can do in the world?

Participants will share their own doctoral research through short presentations, workshops and activities which will contribute to our understanding of how design is a catalyst for change and, more specifically, what kind of change design is creating. The aim is to explore how the participants’ evolving research contributes to wider discussions taking place in the field of design and other research communities

As during DRS2016 in Brighton, the one day event will kick-start conversations which will continue into the DRS conference in the days following, through a programme of activities, workshops and the fifth issue of the Instant Journal. All of this will take place in PhD By Design will host a ‘Hub‘ space in the heart of the DRS conference.


What will happen?

The day will include ten discussion sessions where every participant will present their work, a series of peer-to-peer workshops and the collective production of the fifth PhD By Design Instant Journal bringing together the learnings of the day. The one day event will kick-start start conversations which will continue into the DRS conference in the days following, through a programme of activities, workshops and the fifth issue of the Instant Journal.


How to get involved

All participants are asked to submit one question around designs role as a catalyst for change

they could address through their PhD. These questions will be used to form discussions sessions where each participant will present current or unfinished PhD research in 5 minutes to a group of fellow researchers to share learnings, provide feedback and search for answers together.

There will be a series of workshops both within the PhD By Design event on Monday the 25th June and throughout the week of the conference from the PhD By Design Hub space. If you would like to run a 90 minute workshop, please send us a proposal when you complete the application form. The workshop can be ran individually or collaboratively but you must provide all materials. Issues that emerged during the last conference that could be potential workshop topics are: material design tools; what constitutes good supervision (both from the side of the PhD candidate and the supervisor); what would an inclusive and sustainable working environment for design researchers look like.

We are using a peer-review submission process to ensure that each discussion session is focussed on common interests. When completing the submission form, please consider how your work speaks to the conference theme and convey this in your bio, research statement and the question you submit.

The application process has now closed.


Information for submission

  • A research bio (70 words)
  • A short description of your research (max 200 words)
  • One image of your work (at least 2 to 4 MB)
  • One question around designs role as a catalyst for change
  • Three key words
  • Workshop proposal (optional) (200 words)


Submission Deadlines

  • Open for PhD By Design applications: 5th September 2017.
  • Closing date for applications to PhD By Design: 15th February 2018.
  • Notice of acceptance to PhD By Design: 20th March 2018.
  • Notice of workshop acceptance: 20th March 2018.
  • If accepted to PhD By Design, participants need to confirm DRS conference payment within 4 weeks.


Registration fee

To attend this PhD By Design event, you must register for the DRS conference. Information about conference fees, including the student and early bird rate, can be found on the DRS website.

There is no additional cost for attending the PhD By Design event if you have registered for the DRS conference. You must register for the DRS conference to attend this event. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided.