Could you join our team of lovely, smart, and diverse humans in the world’s largest doctoral training programme in games?
IGGI invites applications for up to 12 studentships available for 2021/22 entry (starting September 2021) at the University of York or Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). Studentships fund full fees plus a tax-free living stipend, for our 4-year programme.
We also welcome self-funded applications throughout the year. All accepted IGGI students start at the beginning of the academic year in September.
On November 26, we held a workshop for students interested in applying to IGGI this year. No worries if you missed it. All important information is on this page. In addition, you can read:
- the presentation given by IGGI chair Prof Paul Cairns during the admissions workshop.
- the Q&A documents with questions that came up during the event
Who Should Apply
We are seeking diverse and motivated candidates to join our 70 current PhD students conducting interdisciplinary research in areas such as:
Using machine learning (ML) and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) to create interesting, fun, believable game agents
Augmented creativity tools that support game designers and developers, e.g. procedural content generation, AI-assisted game design and testing
Understanding player experience, games user research, and game analytics
Game audio and music
Interaction, user experience, and learning design for games
Using games and gamification to support wellbeing, learning, or social change
Using Esports and other game data to study human behaviour and psychology
Using game AI to improve real-world decision making
IGGI students are a diverse group, and admission decisions are made on the basis of your potential to do good work and make a positive impact through games research. We especially welcome applications from female and minority ethnic candidates as well as other groups that are under-represented in games research and industry.
Why Apply to IGGI
IGGI brings together more than 60 researchers in games and related fields working on creating positive impact on and through games; that’s 60 amazing researchers that you can draw on as supervisors.
You will receive focused skills training in game design, games research methods, game development, game AI, responsible innovation, and engaging users and the public with your work. In addition, you will have access to training in a wide range of topics such as HCI, graphics, audio, psychology, or AI.
You will have opportunities to collaborate with other students and researchers, make games, and share your work through
the annual IGGI Game Jam, a 48 hour game development challenge as part of the Global Game Jam, enhancing your skills in game design, development, and teamwork;
the annual IGGI Conference, showcasing student research alongside industry and academic speakers;
research seminars, board game evenings, or workshops run by students.
IGGI will give you the opportunity to work directly with industry and social partner organisations. Placements, research exchanges, and other forms of knowledge exchange will give you the possibility to make a direct positive impact, experience the games industry first hand, and collaborate with researchers and practitioners. Previous and current IGGI students have worked with partner organisations such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, Bossa Studios, Google, Bloomberg, PROWLER.io, Media Molecule, BT, Splash Damage, Microsoft Research, and Sue Ryder.
Who is Eligible to Apply
UK, EU, and international students are eligible to apply and receive a stipend and tuition based on EPSRC rules. We will update this page with information as soon as it is released by the government. International students will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.
Applicants normally hold a masters degree enabling them to do games research in their chosen research area (e.g. computer science, HCI, psychology, game design and development), although we do accept exceptional candidates with a fitting undergraduate degree. We also expect applicants to bring the requisite basic technical skills to succeed in our training modules in game design and development. Prior practical experience in making games is not required but a definite plus.
Research Theme and Supervisor
Application starts with finding a primary supervisor you want to work with, and deciding whether you want to develop your own PhD project or apply to a project pitch that has already been framed by your supervisor.
If you want to apply to a pre-defined project:
Check the list of project proposals for 2021 If you find one or more that fit your research interests, contact the supervisor listed as framing the project. We recommend introducing yourself with your educational and professional background, identifying the project you would like to work on, and some further background why you are interested in that topic and how it fits your profile. Even if the proposed topic doesn't perfectly fit your interests, professors are often open to developing a PhD project on a related topic. So if the pre-defined project is close to but not exactly what you are interested in, it is still worthwhile contacting the supervisor.
If you want to develop your own project:
Check the list of potential IGGI supervisors, listed with their research interests, and contact those that most closely match the research you would like to undertake. If you cannot find a fitting supervisor, you can contact us at email@example.com.
Once you identified potential supervisors, contact them directly to see if they are interested in supervising you and developing a project proposal with you. We recommend introducing yourself with your educational and professional background, areas you'd like to do a PhD in and why, and why you chose to approach them.
Please do this early, ideally one or more months before you submit your application. Your first choice may not be available for supervision or may find your project not fitting with their current interests, so you may have to try more than once to find a supervisor. And developing a good proposal takes time.
Developing a Project Proposal
Once you have found a primary supervisor to work with, you need to develop a detailed project proposal. If you apply with a project you frame yourself, you can have a dialogue with your intended supervisor about possible directions. If you apply to a project already pitched by a supervisor, they can tell you more about the background of the pitch.
Either way, once you agreed on a project direction or have understood the project pitch, you should next develop a detailed project proposal on your own, also as a way of demonstrating your academic capabilities.
A project proposal states the research question you want to answer in your PhD, why it is important to answer, how you want to answer it, and how it might have a positive impact on the world. Please use the Proposal Template Word version 2.0, PDF version 2.0. for your proposal, which sets out the requirements. For help, have a look at our tips for proposal writing, or an example of a previous successful proposal.
Note that your proposal must fit within the IGGI research themes: have a look at our research themes and current student projects for guidance and inspiration. IGGI intentionally tries to be a broad church for research topics, but projects ultimately need to address the goals underlying IGGI's funding: it needs to be games research that has some potential practical value for game developers and designers, be it for applied or entertainment games. If in doubt, your intended supervisor can help frame a project that fits IGGI.
Important: While you can and should communicate with your intended supervisor about your proposal, the proposal text must be written solely by you. Your supervisor may give you overall feedback on proposal drafts, but they must not directly write or edit in the document.
Completing & Submitting Your Application
To complete your application, by or before the deadline of 23:59 GMT on 31st January 2021, email IGGI at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following documents as attachments:
(1) Academic transcripts of previous degrees. Please include degree certificates and formal transcripts of your academic record, providing full details of the degrees, classes, grades you have obtained and the units you have taken. If your degree result is still pending, please include an interim transcript.
(2) Your project proposal, that identifies a potential supervisor and one of the research themes stated above. Your statement of planned research needs to outline the nature of your proposed study and give some indication of how you will conduct your research. You can find the template for the research proposal here:
It must be in English and be your own words. We invite but do not require an additional, more fully developed proposal (up to 10pp., with references).
(3) Your CV, to give further background information on your prior experience and qualifications. Please include your telephone number, an online ID for Skype or another platform and state/country.
(4) Evidence of your technical skills: As noted, we expect applicants to bring the requisite technical skills to succeed on the programme. These can be evidenced e.g. through your academic transcripts, certificates of online learning programmes, or a portfolio of work, which can include examples of source code you have written. Specifically we are looking for:
- b) Any technical skills required to conduct the specific research you propose. For example, if you are proposing to advance machine learning in games we would look for evidence of solid knowledge in that area. If you are proposing research on design patterns or player experience may we would look for different skillsets.
(5) If you are an international applicant, please include evidence of your English language ability. We have set a minimum English language proficiency level of 6.5 in the IELTS test, with at least 6.0 in each component, or a TOEFL score of 92, with a minimum of 21 in each component. If you hold a degree from a university in a majority-English speaking country and no more than 2 years have passed since you have been taught on the degree, you may not need to provide such evidence. The regulations differ between York and QMUL and you will have to meet the requirements of the institution at which your intended supervisor is based. Please contact us if in doubt.
(6) Please complete the IGGI Recruitment Diversity Monitoring Form
Once your application has been received, we will contact you within two working days to confirm receipt and advise the next steps and timing of the ongoing application process.
If you need to contact us directly, further contact details can be found on our contacts page.
Funding Your PhD
The funded studentship covers all tuition fees and a tax- and national insurance-free stipend of presently £15,009 per year (2019/20 rates). London-based students will receive an additional London weighting payment of presently £2,000. Information on 2020/21 rates is pending: UKRI/EPSRC adjust rates annually to account for inflation.
In addition to fees and stipend, students receive a research and travel allowance (presently £2,600) to cover conference travel and research expenses during their four years. IGGI also covers travel and accommodation required by the demands of the IGGI programme, subject to EPSRC eligibility criteria.
Note that EU and international students on a Tier 4 visa will have to pay a healthcare surcharge of currently £300 per year not covered by IGGI.
It is always possible to apply to the IGGI programme as a self-funded student or with funding from another source. Please be aware that you will need to be able to prove that you have the funding to cover the tuition fees, living costs, and the additional travel and accommodation costs required for this course.
Tuition fees vary according to your fee status and to which institution you are applying. To discuss living costs, tuition fees and additional programme costs, please contact us at email@example.com.