World-Leading Doctoral Scholarship in Computer Science and Medicine

Tuesday 23 January 2024
Application period opens
Friday 5 January 2024
Application period closes
Tuesday 20 February 2024

The University of St Andrews is pleased to offer a full scholarship funded by St Leonard’s Postgraduate College, to support an exceptional student undertaking doctoral research in the following project:

Definitely Maybe? Communicating Uncertainty in Medicine through Data Comics.

Accepted start dates:

  • August 2024
  • September 2024

Doctoral Research at St Andrews

As a doctoral student at the University of St Andrews you will be part of a growing, vibrant, and intellectually stimulating postgraduate community. St Andrews is one of the leading research-intensive universities in the world and offers a postgraduate experience of remarkable richness.

St Leonard’s Postgraduate College is at the heart of the postgraduate community of St Andrews. The College supports all postgraduates and aims to provide opportunities for postgraduates to come together, socially and intellectually, and make new connections.

St Leonard’s Postgraduate College works closely with the Postgraduate Society which is one of the most active societies within the Students’ Association. All doctoral students are automatically welcomed into the Postgraduate Society when they join the University.

In addition to the research training that doctoral students complete in their home School, doctoral students at St Andrews have access to GRADskills, a free, comprehensive training programme to support their academic, professional, and personal development.


In the era of big data, uncertainty is an inherent part of medical research and clinical practice. From type I and type II errors in medical diagnosis, to interpreting a machine learning model’s performance, there is almost no data-driven health decision without some level of uncertainty.

Failure to understand uncertainty can lead to flawed decision-making, which in some cases can cost lives. Visualisations are important tools for analysing and interpreting big data, and incorporating uncertainty in data visualisations is imperative. However, some of the standard visual encodings used in medicine, such as bar charts with error bars used for conveying sample means with associated error, have been shown to be potentially misleading. It is also widely recognised that probabilities are notoriously difficult to communicate effectively to lay audiences.

There is a growing body of work in the information visualisation community, developing new methods for representing uncertainty. However, empirical evaluation of such methods is sparse and of limited quality, and there is a need to extensively and rigorously assess their impact on decision-making. More importantly, despite evidence that data-driven storytelling is an effective approach to communicating complex data to lay audiences, there is little research investigating data comics and interactivity in the context of uncertainty.

This novel and interdisciplinary PhD project aims to shed light on uncertainty visualisation in medicine and healthcare. The objectives of the project are to:

  • evaluate existing uncertainty visualisation techniques in the context of health data, with a focus on bias in decision making (e.g. at diagnosis or treatment selection);
  • develop data comics with different levels of interactivity for visualising uncertainty in medicine, allowing for different levels of support for interpreting uncertainty; and
  • extensively assess the impact of interactive data comics on health decision-making under uncertainty, including comparison to existing uncertainty visualisation techniques and text-based alternatives.

Interdisciplinary methods will be employed across the fields of information visualisation, risk and evidence communication, cognitive and perceptual psychology, and health communication. Novel visualisation methods will be developed, and extensive experiments will be conducted with patients, medical experts and health policymakers, allowing the student to make important technical contributions and advance current understanding in the field.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of this project, the student will join the School of Computer Science and its Health Informatics Group, and will be co-advised by a medical expert in the School of Medicine and the Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis. This will bring together a unique mix of expertise, along with a wide range of exciting opportunities for personal development.

Informal enquiries regarding this scholarship may be addressed to Dr Areti Manataki via email to [email protected].

Value of award (per year)

Full tuition fees (Home or International rate)

Annual maintenance paid monthly at UKRI rates (£18,622 2023/24)

Duration of award

Up to 3.5 years. The successful candidate will be expected to have completed the doctorate degree by the end of the award term. The award term excludes the continuation period and any extension periods.

At what stage of my course application can I apply for this scholarship?

Please apply for the scholarship after you have submitted your application for a place at St Andrews. You do not need to wait until you have received an offer of a place before applying for the scholarship.


Application restrictions

Study level

Available to students studying at:



Available to students studying:

Research project: Definitely Maybe? Communicating Uncertainty in Medicine through Data Comics

Domicile for fee status

No restrictions


Available to faculty members from:

Computer Science, Medicine

Application assessment

Academic merit

Available to

Prospective students

Mode of study

Full time

Geographical criteria

No restrictions

Additional criteria

You must have applied for a PhD programme at St Andrews.

You must not already (i) hold a doctoral degree; or (ii) be matriculated for a doctoral degree at the University of St Andrews or another institution.

As part of the scholarship application you will be required to upload a personal statement. This should serve as a cover letter for the research project application as a whole, and should include:

  • An outline of your suitability for the project (project criteria can be found in the “Eligibility” and “Project Description” sections above).
  • Why the project interests you.
  • What you would bring to the project in terms of previous skills and expertise.
  • Any ideas that you may have for the realisation of the project.

How to apply

  1. Apply for admission as a doctoral student beginning in the academic year 2024-25. Please see the advice on Research programmesAfter submitting your PhD application, you must allow at least two working days for processing and issue of your log-in details before you can apply for the scholarship. Once you have received an email confirming your access to the My application portal: 
  2. Apply for the scholarship, which is available through the World-Leading Scholarship 2: Definitely Maybe? Communicating Uncertainty in Medicine through Data Comics application form. You can access this application through the Scholarships and funding catalogue in the Scholarships and Funding section of My application
    • Enter the catalogue by following the instructions in the email, then choosing Scholarships and funding (under ‘Useful links’) and then clicking View the scholarships and funding catalogue.
    • Select 2024/5 as the Academic Year and click ‘Refresh list’.
    • Find the World-Leading St Andrews Doctoral Scholarship that you wish to apply for in the list of scholarships (using the filter box if necessary), click Apply and complete the application form.
    • You can also use the catalogue to search and apply for other scholarships for which you are eligible. 

Scholarship application form guidance

If you are a current student at St Andrews, you can access Scholarships and Funding through MySaint. However, you should wait until after you have applied for your intended postgraduate programme before doing so, to ensure that the scholarship application is linked to that course.

Terms and conditions

Please read the University of St Andrews scholarships terms and conditions (opens in new tab) 

If you apply to this scholarship, details from your course application may be passed to the selection panel solely for the purpose of merit-based assessment. 

When will I know the outcome?

The outcome of your scholarship application will be available on View or continue my funding applications in the Scholarships and Funding section of My Application within two months of the application deadline.

Please contact [email protected] with any enquiries about the scholarship application process.

Informal enquiries regarding this scholarship may be addressed to Dr Areti Manataki via email to [email protected].

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