Likely stories: artificial intelligence, media bias and marginalised audiences

Funded PhD Scholarship


North West Collaborative Doctoral Training PartnershipT‌he Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Met, in collaboration with the AHRC NWCDTP National Productivity Investment Fund, has three doctoral awards in Artificial Intelligence and Data Driven Research in the Arts and Humanities. We're advertising projects on:

Likely stories: Artificial intelligence, media bias and marginalised audiences

This project offers the opportunity to work on an innovative international project about media bias and artificial intelligence (AI). The project aims to explore the use of AI in detecting media bias and predicting its effect on marginalised young people in the UK and Pakistan. Can we predict the persuasiveness of online media based on composite elements such as such as musical arrangements, storylines and imagery? The project responds to a lack of research into using machine learning to understand the aesthetics of persuasion in audio-visual narratives, for example in the short form videos common on social media, especially in relation to marginalised audiences. How could arts and humanities theory inform and enhance machine learning approaches to problems of media bias and persuasive intent?

The applicant will be based in the new School of Digital Arts and will work with the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI), Pakistan and the British Muslim Heritage Centre (BMHC), Manchester to conduct their research.

Aims and objectives

The candidate has the freedom to choose an appropriate topic that is in line with their specialism and interests. Suggested media topics pertinent to the groups in question include:

Other topics will be considered where a compelling justification is provided.

Candidates may also choose to either study a spectrum of elements within their chosen type of media or focus on a particular element (e.g. narratology, or musical composition) to better understand its persuasive effect.

One outcome of your studies is expected to be a labelled media corpus designed to inform machine learning with the aim of developing algorithms that predict persuasiveness of similar media not from the corpus. The candidate may propose suitable uses for these outputs. For example, these algorithms might be used to work towards the development of online tools for young people to predict the persuasive power of media in real time.

Candidates should describe their proposed research project in detail on the application form, indicating its academic aims and objectives.

Studying at Manchester Met

You will be joining a lively research community within our Faculty of Arts and Humanities. You will be a member of the Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Centre (PAHC) which offers a three-year training and research programme for the next generation of leaders in research, design and development. You will have the opportunity to work with industry partners and a multidisciplinary cross-Faculty supervisory team to support your research.

Specific requirements of the project

The successful candidate will be from an arts and humanities and/or creative industries background with knowledge of one or more of the following areas: art, music, film and narrative theory, and art and media practice. It is also essential that you possess some understanding and interest in artificial intelligence (AI). Knowledge of the technical aspects of AI is desirable but not essential as the candidate will have access to training and support to develop their practical knowledge in this area. Candidates will be expected to work alongside international and cultural partners, thus experience of partnership working and relationship building is also critical. The student is expected to work with the BMHC to collaborate with ethnic Pakistani young people in the Manchester city region who will watch and tag media as part of the research. The student will also be funded to visit Islamabad, Pakistan twice in the second year of their PhD to conduct similar research with youth groups in the city and collaborate with the NCAI in Islamabad to develop new approaches to machine learning and media.

Academic eligibility

Candidates must have qualifications of the standard of a good honours degree at first or upper second class level, from a UK academic institution and a Masters level qualification in a subject relevant to the research area.

Residential eligibility

Candidates must have a relevant connection with the UK in order to qualify for a full award. This includes candidates who have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the 3-year period preceding the date of application and resident for this 3-year period for reasons other than education. Candidates from EU countries other than the UK are eligible for full awards maintenance and tuition fees if they have been resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of their programme. Candidates from EU countries who have not resided in the UK for three years prior to the start of their programme will be eligible for a fees-only award. 


To apply, click the 'Apply online' button below. Please ensure you complete the additional Postgraduate Research Degree Supplementary Information document and upload it to the Student documents section of your online application.


Informal enquiries can be made to:

Dr Toby Heys (Director of Studies), e-mail: OR Dr David Jackson, e-mail:

How to Apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online

Please quote the reference: ArtsHum-MSARC-NPIF-2018-2.

Please complete the additional Postgraduate Research Degree Supplementary Information document and upload it to the Student documents section of your online application. This collects important information about your research application and there may be delays if you do not submit this document.

Before you apply, we recommend that you:

Next Stages of Your Application

We will contact you to let you know the initial outcome of your application, and invite you to attend an interview where appropriate.

Once the university is satisfied with the following, we will send you an offer letter informing you that you have been offered a place of study:

Some offers may be conditional upon achieving certain grades in your examinations, or successfully completing a particular programme. You must satisfy these conditions before we can confirm your unconditional place.

Closing date

6 July 2018


Mid-late July 2018

Research Study