Centre for Technomoral Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute

Call for applications - 3 fully funded Baillie Gifford PhD studentships in AI/Data Ethics

The Centre for Technomoral Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) welcomes applications for three fully funded 4-year PhD studentships from September 2021, funded by global investment firm Baillie Gifford. These studentships, which are open to UK, EU and international applicants, will support rigorous interdisciplinary PhD research into the ethical challenges posed by the growing use of data and artificial intelligence.

Overview of programme structure

Successful applicants to the Baillie Gifford programme for 2021 will be formally admitted to the University of Edinburgh’s department of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences (PPLS) for at least the first year of study, with Centre Director and Professor of Philosophy Shannon Vallor as the primary supervisor. However, we welcome applications from prospective students from a variety of academic backgrounds relevant to the study of applied ethics of data and AI. We particularly encourage applications from candidates from groups or communities that are historically underrepresented or marginalised in philosophy and/or computing professions.

Applicants must propose a research project on a specific topic or problem in AI/data ethics that will draw upon the knowledge, methods, concepts or tools of more than one discipline. Co-supervision from a discipline outside of Philosophy is therefore expected. Where appropriate, a student may transfer their appointment and primary supervision to an alternative department/School in Years 2-4, subject to prior agreement by the supervisory team and Schools.

Professor Shannon Vallor

Aim of the programme

The aim of the Baillie Gifford research programme at the Edinburgh Futures Institute is to cultivate interdisciplinary skills and knowledge in the application of ethical values to data-driven technologies. More broadly, our goal is to develop the shared vocabulary and the flexible, responsive, cross-disciplinary research methodologies needed to address the complex challenges and opportunities that data and AI present for sustainable, just and ethical futures in flourishing societies.

The Centre for Technomoral Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute

The Baillie Gifford postgraduate research programme in Data/AI Ethics is supported by EFI’s new Centre for Technomoral Futures. The Centre’s mission is to unify technical and moral modes of future-building expertise in new models of research, education, design and engagement that directly serve the goals of sustainable, just and ethical innovation.

The Centre for Technomoral Futures is a home for developing more constructive modes of innovation: innovation that preserves and strengthens human ties and capabilities; that builds more accessible and just paths to public participation in the co-creation of our futures; and that reinvests the power of technology into the repair, maintenance and care of our communities and our planet.

The Centre for Technomoral Futures supports EFI’s broader ethos and mission to pursue and promote the participatory knowledge and critical understanding needed to support society’s navigation of complex futures. Our shared goal is to help people create and bring forth more resilient, sustainable and equitable forms of life.

Learn more about the Centre and our current Baillie Gifford PhD students here:

Centre for Technomoral Futures


  • Studentship covers tuition fees (UK, EU or Overseas level) with an annual stipend for 4 years at UKRI rates (stipend estimated to be in the region of £15,500 for 2021/22)
  • Includes annual research support budget of £2,000


  • Open to home, EU and international students
  • A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in philosophy or another discipline closely related to research in applied ethics of data/AI.
  • Relevant academic course preparation or equivalent experience demonstrating an interest in and capability for interdisciplinary research in data/AI ethics.

Your academic qualifications will be assessed by a panel of academics along with the research proposal submitted as part of your application.

Application process

Prospective students should apply for the PhD Philosophy programme via the standard online form accessible here:

Philosophy PhD

Please enter ‘Shannon Vallor’ under ‘Proposed Supervisor’ section of the form.

You will be asked to upload the following documentation with your application form:

  • Degree transcripts and certificates for your previous degree(s).
  • Research proposal – please complete and upload the Baillie Gifford form for this:
  • 2 academic references – you can provide contact information for your referees in the application form. When you submit your form your referees will be emailed with a link to upload their letter.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (if relevant) – see application page for details.


Application deadline: 23 November, 2020


If you have any questions about the studentship or application process please contact the PPLS Postgraduate Admissions Team

About the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Futures Institute

The University of Edinburgh is a research-intensive institution with a continuing track record of the highest levels of research excellence. Edinburgh is a global university, consistently ranked one of the best 25 universities in the world. We are 4th in the UK for research power in both main league tables based on REF2014.

The Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), aims to facilitate and catalyse cross-School and interdisciplinary working at the University of Edinburgh with a particular focus on data driven innovation and futures across themes of Democracy, Society, Education, Creativity, Justice, Health, Sustainability, Economy and History. EFI is developing a new suite of undergraduate and post graduate programmes, and collaborative research and engagement projects working with external organisations, aimed at promoting human flourishing and sustainable futures in the context of rapid and complex change.

For more information on being a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh visit the following website:

The University of Edinburgh - postgraduate study