AIR building, Falmouth University
Photo Credit: AIR Building, Falmouth University

Falmouth University

Research at Falmouth is organised under the three overarching themes of Smart Design; Digital Games; and Creative Connected Communities, which are outlined below. We welcome applications to the 3D3 funding scheme from students wanting to undertake practice-led PhD research which explores the possibilities and challenges presented by rapidly evolving technologies.

Centre for Smart Design

Vision: The Centre for Smart Design will address societal grand challenges such as climate change, energy security, an ageing society, and health and wellbeing. The Centre will engage in these grand challenges by undertaking design led research and innovation projects to realise novel low-carbon technologies, products and services. Projects will explore the integration of smart technologies, digital platforms, and sustainable design principles. The research will address key sectors that meet human needs, such as the Built Environment, Energy, Transportation and eHealth and Wellbeing.


In addressing its research and innovation challenges the Centre aims to develop regional, national and international collaborations and partnerships that support new global markets. These initiatives aim to deliver social benefits, economic growth and knowledge based employment in Cornwall and beyond.


A key objective for the Centre is to build a collaborative research and innovation environment. Projects are to be developed, realised and exploited in partnership with growth businesses and through the creation of new start-up businesses.

Collaboration & Partnership: Smart Design will work with growth businesses in long term engagements to jointly research and develop new products and services to ensure that these opportunities are brought to a near market readiness. Research projects with firms will go through a highly selective process including due diligence and assessments to ensure the project is scalable, has Intellectual Property (IP) generation potential and the company has a desire to grow and target global markets. Intellectual property arising from these research collaborations will be protected. The Centre will aim to engage expert advice on patents, trademarks, design rights, trade secrets, copyright and brand protection to support the exploitation process.


Where appropriate, partnerships between the University and commercial entities will be realised based on the exploitation of IP. Route to market will take different forms such as design licences, the creation of new start-ups, and joint ventures.

Innovation Bridge: A key ‘offer’ of the Centre is that it provides an ‘innovation bridge’ to enable companies and startups to develop their ideas into meaningful business opportunities. The companies gain a design research and innovation capacity that is generally beyond their in house capabilities or resources. The Centre gains great insights from the knowledge, networks and market expertise of the companies. In forging these partnerships market led design research will lead to new innovations in the identified sectors. At a practical level research and innovation activities will involve:
1. The integration of low carbon products, ICT platforms and software apps.
2. Developing ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT/Physical Web) solutions with company partners.
3. Researching, developing, prototyping and testing IoT solutions towards market readiness.


In developing this applied research agenda the Centre for Smart Design will provide essential support to companies in the form of high value research and access to prototyping and development facilities. Firms will collaborate with designers who can unlock innovation in the company, and benefit from business support tools to protect IP and to help facilitate exploitation. The Centre’s approach is especially important in Cornwall, as there is a high proportion of micro-businesses (and start-ups) that are typically constrained by their size and lack of resource to take new product-service innovations to market. This can be a very costly and disruptive process. Addressing this ‘development void’ and the lack of available skills is a key driver in translating research and novel innovations into business growth. An aim for the Centre is to established Falmouth University as an ‘anchor’ in the region for Smart Design and stimulate business clusters and market led startups around this specialism.

For further information about the Centre for Smart Design at Falmouth, please contact Prof. Philip Moore:

Centre for Digital Games


Our aim is for the Centre for Digital Games to become a world-renowned research hub focusing on video games as forms of art and culture and the advancement of games through Artificial Intelligence technologies. In particular, we see games as one of the most important cultural forms of the twenty-first century. We undertake research which highlights contribution that games make to culture and how they compare and contrast with other cultural forms such as film, literature, the visual and performing arts. 

We also have a strong technological focus within the centre, with expertise in various areas of Artificial Intelligence and game design. We are particularly interested in researching Computational Creativity, where software takes on certain creative responsibilities in art and science projects. With respect to games, this ranges from cutting edge procedural content generation techniques, to the automatic generation of entire video games, and throws up a range of philosophical issues such as how to get software to be subjective and intentional. We are working towards the democratisation of game design through advanced AI techniques which work as creative collaborators with people to bring down difficult barriers to the design of games.


The MetaMakers Institute is a research group within the Centre for Digital Games. Funded with EPSRC and European Commission research grants, we are building software prototypes, which will be tested in scientific, artistic and commercial ways. In particular, we plan to commercialise our work in order to build a sustainable research fund directly from sales of our software and games to the public. We are part of the Digital Creativity Next-Step Digital Economy Hub funded by the EPSRC (, and we work closely with partners at the University of York, Goldsmiths College and Cass Business School. This hub is supported by more than 80 creative industry partners who have pledged time, expertise and funding to collaborative projects of benefit to creative industry firms. We aim to work with games and other creative industry firms in Cornwall and across the country to drive forward technological solutions to the problems this sector faces.

Potential Research Areas: We would welcome PhD applications in areas, which are in the scope of the Centre for Digital Games. Such areas include, but are not limited to: Games Design, Game Studies, Games and Art, the cultural analysis of Games and Game Media forms, Games as Fiction, Games and Transmediality/Adaptation, Games and Critical Theory.  


Aspects of automating game design: In particular, we are interested in modeling imaginative reasoning leading to ideas for games, and there is an opportunity to link with the EC-funded WHIM project which focuses on automating fictional ideation.


AI techniques for automated game playing: Modern successes with Monte-Carlo Tree Search methods have led to AI opponents which can play certain games at human (and super-human) levels. However, there is much scope for using such techniques to build more fun/engaging players, or to play games with dynamic real-time aspects, and opportunities to study the application of new methods such as deep learning to such tasks. We are particularly interested in constructing automated game players to test automatically generated games, in order to increase the quality of the output.


Democratisation of game design: We are interested in building tools which help people with little technological background to design games, particularly on hand-held devices. Such tools would necessarily require strong generative skills and would lead to questions of trust and collaboration in Computational Creativity research. We would like to extend this to study how tools can be built which help would-be game designers who are held back by physical disability.

For further information about the Centre for Digital Games at Falmouth, please contact Prof. Simon Colton:

Creative Connected Communities

Vision: Creative Connected Communities is a broad-based, trans-disciplinary and inter-media research theme that seeks to form project-based partnerships and networks of local, national and international practice-led researchers that can move fluently between traditional arts-based technologies and methods, and current media technologies and approaches, to develop creative and innovative ways to connect communities and shape our futures.


The Creative Connected Communities Research Centre welcomes proposals for practice-led doctoral research projects that are consistent with the AHRC 3D3 funding framework. Creative Connected Communities provides a thematic framework for 3D3 doctoral and other related research projects that explore interfaces between new technologies, digital processes and traditional methods in creating communities and sustainable networks for social, environmental, economic, arts and cultural innovation.


The changing nature of communities and ways in which relations and resources can be mediated and renewed through innovative public and technological engagement, provides a common focus for the research interest-areas within the University that align with Creative Connected Communities.


Potential Research Interest Areas under the Theme of Creative Connected Communities:

DR@FT – Dance Research at Falmouth: DR@FT is located in the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA). The Dance Programme at Falmouth integrates pathways of dance and performance, dance and choreography and dance and communities. Considering these relationships in critical, compositional and practical terms, DR@FT supports the idea that choreography is a widening field, including areas of social life and practice that may fall outside the traditional boundaries of dance.


Our practice-led research interests cover improvisation, drawing, choreographic documentation, notations and scores, site-based and environmental performance, animation, somatic practices; as well as histories of the body in relation to choreographic, participatory and fine-art performance.


DR@FT welcomes practice-led doctoral research projects that explore the practical methods and conceptual issues that arise from choreographic documentation, physical improvisation and their location in particular spaces, environments and digital contexts.

For further information about Dance Research at Falmouth, please contact Prof. Ric Allsopp:

Institute of Photography: The overarching theme is PLACE which not only interrogates location and environment but looks to the future, function and position of photography in the wider world and its relationships with other media disciplines, and communities.
For further information about Research at the Institute of Photography in Falmouth, please contact Prof. Helen Sear:

Material and Visual Culture: We are historians, theorists and practitioners of art and design. We are interested in the history, circulation and interpretation of material and visual culture. This includes practice-based research that interacts/reworks existing material and visual culture in contemporary contexts. This may include, but is not limited to, collaborative working with museums, galleries, archives and collections. There is a focus on the role of memory, place, storytelling, everyday culture, socially engaged and participatory practice, and the ways in which individual and collective identities are shaped and transformed through creativity and visual and material culture.
For further information about the Material and Visual Culture Group, please contact Dr. Deborah Sugg-Ryan:

Theatre Research at Falmouth: Formed of internationally renowned theatre makers, performers, curators and researchers our focus is on how performance operates in the public realm. For public realm read all that might occur beneath a proscenium arch and well beyond, be that in digital, physical or entirely social space. We ask, what is the cultural, political and social efficacy of performance making? How do performance practices relate to, inform and collaborate with other cultural and social pursuits? In apprehending performance as a discourse that speaks to, and engenders, a huge variety of contexts and communities, we begin to expand our sense of the function and continuing agency of performance making.
For further information about the Theatre research at Falmouth, please contact Prof. Gregg Whelan:

Sonva: Sonva is a Cornish word meaning ‘a place of sound’. Working within the overarching theme of Creative Connected Communities, we are practitioners and thinkers of music and sound, often working at the interface between performance, composition, theory and technology. Our work has been published, performed and broadcast widely and has received numerous international awards. Recent projects include the AHRC funded Online Orchestra project, a series of pieces that explore the relationship between sound, territory and community and the Dark Sound conference.

We welcome applications from students wishing to undertake practice-led research in the areas of Telematic music; the use of new technologies in music education; music, sound and place; music and community; the impact of technology on values ascribed to music; possible futures in object-oriented approaches to music and sound production and spatial audio.

For further information about the Sonva research theme, please contact Dr. David Prior: