Deadline for applications is 12 January, 2009:

Finally, here are the project outlines:

Blogging the Vancouver 2010 Olympics (Ref.PHDMLM003) Director of Studies: Dr Andy Miah Research into the new media dimensions of an Olympic Games has become a focal point for researchers in recent years. Sports governing bodies have also responded to the rise of new media, as a distinct reporting form within the organizational framework of a mega-event. For instance, for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the television rights contracts were separated from internet broadcast rights for the first time in history. Also, in February 2008, the International Olympic Committee provided extensive blogging guidelines for the first time, which affect all accredited persons at the Games, including athletes. Additionally, a remarkable number of citizen journalists is visible at recent Games and their capacity and entitlement to report on the proceedings is a much more contested set of circumstances. As traditional media outlets rush to converge and consolidate their online presence, questions arise as to the contribution of dominant social networking platforms to the construction of the Games-time narrative. Evidence suggests that organizations are making strategic decisions to affect these conditions. For instance, in March 2007, the BBC purchased a You Tube Channel. Alternatively, in August 2008, the IOC signed agreements to broadcast parts of the Olympic Games on You Tube to countries where no television broadcast license was in place. This PhD studentship will focus on the Olympic Winter Games of Vancouver 2010 to study how a range of new media is infiltrating the Olympic infrastructure. It will seek to contextualize the new media culture of Vancouver 2010 within a series of cultural and political issues that have surrounded the lead-up to its Winter Olympics.

Candidates should have a higher degree and particular expertise in qualitative research methods and social media.

Prospects of immortality: public engagement with Biogerontology and life/health span expansion (Ref.PHDMLM004)

Due to its broad application to a number of other sciences, biogerontology is one of the most relevant fields of inquiry today. It speaks to the convergence of the NBIC sciences and to the redefinition of health care that arises by describing ageing as a disease to be cured, rather than a natural process to accept. Biogerontology engages us with the prospect of extending health or life span to an unknown degree and, as such, it is a controversial discipline. Over the last ten years, work in this area has shifted from scientific impossibility to becoming a core part of scientific endeavour. A range of media coverage, from aspersion to fascination, has accompanied this shift. In the literature on public understanding of science, there is no research yet attending to this distinct, but profound area of scientific inquiry. As such, this PhD studentship aims to explore the following questions:

* How has biogerontology been articulated though the media? * What issues surround the political economy of research into life-extension? * How do different research communities orientate themselves around the various media narratives on life-extension? * How do journalists report research on biogerontology? * What can be learned from this subject area to broadly inform work into science communication?

Candidates should have a higher degree in science communication and qualitative research methods in media sociology.

Director of Studies Andy Miah External Adviser: Aubrey de Grey

The ethics of human enhancement in film (Ref.PHDMLM005)

Studies in the ethics of human enhancement have advanced considerably in the last five years through the emergence of new communities of scholarly inquiry. A number of scientific disciplines have been brought under the spotlight due to their likely use for lifestyle, non-therapeutic purposes. The connections between filmic narratives and bioethics are made manifest in recent cultural studies and can be linked to broader, literary origins. Yet, there is very little research that investigates the range of narratives that emerge on the ethics of human enhancement within film. This absence affects the degree of complexity that is brought to how such debates are played out in the media and in policy. This PhD explores the contribution of film to such imaginations and aims to add complexity to our understanding of how film conveys such alterations. It should also help us understand how film functions as a posthuman device of expressing humanly experiences, such as process of remembering, perceiving and the possible disruption of sensory encounters. It also aims to explore the limitations of cultural reference points within scientific policy making on the ethics of human enhancements, exploring the range of metaphors, analogies and stories that contribute to shaping the public understanding of science.

Candidates should have a higher degree and particular expertise in film theory and technological fiction.

Director of Studies: Andy Miah