Qualification(s) available: PhD

Entry requirements
3 years
6 years
Start date
1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October
UK fee
To be confirmed
International fee


Design at Loughborough has a strong, internationally recognised research community. We discover and develop new concepts and ideas in areas related to design, ergonomics and human factors

We have a thriving PhD population of around 60 full-time and part-time UK, EU and international research students. With a PhD you will become an expert in your field and successful PhD students typically go on to specialist positions in industry, a career in academia, work for consultancy companies or set up their own businesses.

Annually, we attract over £4 million in funding from external investors and businesses, helping us to undertake a number of research projects that have a real impact on the world around us.

Some PhD projects are advertised by the University; in other cases, applicants develop their own ideas and propose these as a potential PhD topic. In either case you will be supervised by staff who are internationally recognised as experts in their field.

You will be based within a specialist research group and will have access to the world-class facilities you need to complete your studies. The research groups provide an opportunity for you to share ideas with peers and staff working in similar areas, and obtain help and feedback as your project progresses.

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Why you should choose us

Where you'll study

Based in a £21 million state-of-the-art building, we have a wealth of in-house facilities, including a fully equipped ergonomics laboratory sited nearby on campus. Our practical and theoretical research spaces ensure a professional and inspirational experience.

We will also provide state-of-the-art design and ergonomics software, regular research seminars and training courses, opportunities to support undergraduate teaching, special tutor sessions in your first year, and student-led initiatives to provide support throughout your studies.

Our research

By joining one of our postgraduate research areas, you will have the opportunity to be part of a vibrant, enthusiastic and forward-thinking community, where academics and students work closely together to research the latest advancements and discoveries in design.

Design Ergonomics Research Group

The Design Ergonomics group has a strong international reputation in research across a broad range of areas including inclusive design, transport (particularly vehicle ergonomics), health and well-being, construction ergonomics, human modelling and people’s emotional engagement with products. The group’s research and consultancy activities impact industry and end users, making a positive difference to people’s lives.

Design Practice Research Group

This is a multidisciplinary team of academics with expertise in the methods, tools and technologies of design and designing. The research focuses on new and improved design processes with results contributing to scholarship and practice in areas such as design education, methods and management and emerging technologies. Find out more.

Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre

The Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre studies the interaction of people with their physical environment. This can be an indoor or outdoor environment in the context of work or leisure activities. The interactions studied can range from comfort to stressful experiences, addressing issues such as thermal comfort, human performance, vibration and noise exposures and issues related to vision. The group also considers issues around patient handling and safety in healthcare.

Human Factors in Complex Systems Research Group

This group addresses the interactions between people, products, technologies, services, procedures, policies and culture which, when combined, form complex socio-technical systems.

Sustainable Design Research Group

This group is leading the development of cutting-edge theory to advance the emerging field of sustainable design. We aim to facilitate the integration of sustainable practices into design, resulting in improvements in overall environment performance and quality of life.

User Centred Design Research Group

The User Centred Design Research Group conducts world-leading research into products, services, equipment and environments to ensure they meet the needs of the end users. It draws upon 40 years of expertise in the development and application of user centred design methods in the home, at leisure, in the workplace and on the move.

Design for Digital Fabrication Research Group

The Design for Digital Fabrication Research Group focuses on new ways of designing that maximise the potential of the latest automated, computer controlled manufacturing processes. This includes research into new design methods, techniques and tools as well as the psycho-social and economic impacts of these processes. We are one of the world’s leading research groups in the field of design for additive manufacturing and 3D printing, in addition to exploring other digital fabrication processes.

Behavioural Safety Research Group

The Behavioural Safety Research Group strives to improve safety through design using research expertise in human factors, engineering, psychology, health sciences, education and social sciences. A key focus of the group is understanding behavioural aspects of road users and how this impacts on road safety. We also have an interest in understanding the implications of behaviour in the workplace and how this might impact on workplace health and safety.

Transport Collision Research Group

The Transport Collision Research Group’s aim is to better understand how road traffic collisions and injuries occur in order to improve safety for road users, including their vehicles and roads. The research findings are used by vehicle manufacturers to improve road safety.

Your development

Our academic staff are internationally renowned experts in their fields. These staff bring a diverse mix of specialisms and backgrounds to Design at Loughborough, which our PhD students benefit from immensely.

You will have the opportunity to become part of an exciting community of students, academic staff and researchers. Each student is provided with two supervisors who will provide expert guidance during your PhD.

The Doctoral College at Loughborough provides additional support for research students, including a range of training programmes aimed specifically at PhD students. We also provide regular research seminars and training courses, opportunities to support undergraduate teaching, special tutor sessions in your first year, and student led initiatives to provide support throughout your studies.

As standard, each PhD student will receive:

  • financial support to attend conferences
  • your own desk, computer and office storage within our purpose-built building
  • access to a wide range of state-of-the-art design and ergonomics facilities and tools
  • ability to use meeting rooms and study spaces as and when required
  • support through student led initiatives
  • the opportunity to become an integral part of an innovative and exciting community of students, academic staff and researchers
  • regular research seminars
  • access to training courses to support your research
  • the possibility to help support undergraduate teaching
  • participation in the annual Design School research conference.

Your future career

Doing a PhD does not necessarily lead to a career in academia. Some of our students use their degree to advance their career in industry, bringing a higher level of knowledge and varied skill-set to their job. It is recognised worldwide as demonstrating expertise in a particular area.

Recent destinations of our PhD graduates include:

  • Lecturer, Loughborough University
  • Experience Design Consultant, Deloitte
  • Graduate Human Factors Consultant, AMEC
  • Human Factors Engineering Team Consulting Ltd

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours. To learn the equivalent for your country, please choose it from the dropdown below.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

A 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in a relevant subject. A master's degree is usually preferred not essential.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fees and funding

UK fee

Full-time degree per annum
To be confirmed

International fee

Full-time degree per annum

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

Design at Loughborough University welcomes applications from students who are interested in any aspect of design or ergonomics.

Students who wish to study for a PhD usually have a strong interest and skill in a particular area of design or ergonomics that they want to further develop expertise in. Some PhDs are used to explore or discover new things, others are used to develop theories or to expand on a discovery or idea. They can focus on methodologies or on application areas but all PhDs are based on defining and subsequently tackling research questions that make a contribution to the field.

If you can't find an advertised project that fits your interests and experience, you can submit a research proposal to the School of Design and Creative Arts to find a supervisor who will work with you on your project. You can view our list of academic staff on our School website or you can email us for guidance.

Your research proposal should be two pages long and provide a background to your intended research, as well as the objectives, proposed methods and what you hope the outcomes of your research might be. You should email this proposal to and discuss your topic with us before submitting an application.

Apply now