The School of Design (Design Factors Research Group) at the University of Limerick with a track record in User Centred Design in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, are providing a number of Postgraduate Scholarships. Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company. For more than 130 years, J&J have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life, improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. The global environment for Healthcare delivery, and Wellbeing are of key strategic interest for J&J into the future. The development of innovative Products and Product Service Systems (PSS) for the growing demands of digitally native users and ageing populations is one of the strategic goals of the School of Design at UL.

Students will have the opportunity to closely interact with, and gain valuable transferrable skills and insights from the commercial/organisational arena while conducting excellent research. They will gain access to expertise and the latest advances in technology and thinking within the area of health. The scholarship offers the opportunity for suitably qualified, excellent individuals, with novel research ideas, to take the first step and to attain the skills and competencies of a successful researcher and innovator


The objective of the Project is to research, develop and design user centred products, systems and/or product service systems that provide exemplars for innovation in digital /physical product ecosystems related to distributed Healthcare delivery, Industry 4.0 and Consumer Wellbeing. The umbrella theme for the project is “Health in a Box”

Project context

Health in a Box

Keywords: Distributed Health, Distributed Healthcare delivery, Industry 4.0, Factory 4.0, Consumer Wellbeing, User Centred Design, Product Service Systems, Smart Manufacture, Design Ethnography, User Needs Identification, Sustainable products and service systems design, Digital Ecosystems. Complex wicked problems, Interdisciplinarity

It is envisaged that the four selected candidates will work closely in a studio-based team which focuses on the Health in a Box theme. Each candidate will progress their own PhD research project with individual supervision from Academic and Industry supervisory teams.

It is proposed that a mixed methods approach to design led and practice based design research will be adopted to address some of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this space through the PhD scholarships offered by J&J.  The sub-thematic areas are as follows:

  • Humanising Technology – Developing healthcare technologies that have the human users as their core focus.
  • Consumer Insights & User Needs – Gathering rich multi-stakeholder insights into health and wellbeing opportunities and challenges with a view to developing innovative PSS for the future.
  • Preventative Maintenance – Enabling better health assessment and personal health data management to pre-emptively manage health and wellbeing issues.
  • Bespoke and Smart /Rapid manufacture- Conceptual approaches to bespoke and customised distributed Health and Wellbeing Products and PSS which utilises the best of smart/rapid manufacture and lean supply chains.
  • Living with Cobotic devices and AI - Exploring human user/worker perspectives around Technology Acceptance and the definition of needs and ethics associated with the co-existence of robotic and semi-autonomous products and service systems.
  • Circular Economy – Developing closed material and energy loops for the production, distribution, use, end of life takeback and re-production of sustainable healthcare products.
  • Distributed Healthcare – Conceptual development of Products and PSS that is appropriate to a distributed model of manufacture and healthcare delivery, i.e. manufacture and delivery at or close to point of use by the users.

Scholarship Overview

4 x scholarships will be offered on a fully funded basis for a maximum of 4 years (the normal duration of a PhD research project).

Individual scholarships are valued at €23,750 per annum (€18k tax free stipend + EU Fees €5,750) per annum for 4 years.

Eligibility requirements

  • An appropriate master's or equivalent qualification that has been obtained from a University or other institution recognized by UL following a period of study similar to that required in UL. A candidate who holds a master's degree in a discipline other than that in which the doctoral research is intended to be pursued shall be considered for entry under rule 5.4.1b, or 
  • An honors primary bachelor's degree with a minimum classification of 2.1 honors or equivalent qualification, or 
  • An honors primary bachelor's degree with a minimum classification of 2.2 honors or equivalent qualification, or 
  • A degree, or equivalent qualification, other than that specified in 5.4.1a, 5.4.1b or 5.4.1c and a minimum of four years' acceptable professional experience at an appropriate and relevant level may be considered. 
  • Candidates within this category without a minimum of four years' acceptable professional experience will be considered for entry under regulation 5.4.4.

For further information on the Research Postgraduate Academic Regulations (UL Handbook of Academic Regulations & Procedures).

Submission requirements

  1. Current CV.
  2. An expression of interest document. This should be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format, and should be no more than 500 words long. The applicant should describe their own suitability for the project (50% weighted) and how they would like to develop the project (50% weighted) under the Health in a Box theme and one or more of the sub-themes mentioned above. This may include:
  • A research project objective based on one of the above themes demonstrating the novelty and transformation of the project, specifying the problem/opportunity it will solve (problem/opportunity statement).
  • The proposed methodology (including key risk and contingency plans).
  • The potential impact and benefits the research project proposes to deliver.
  1. A digital portfolio of past work may be submitted in PDF format or as a URL link to an online portfolio.

Selection for scholarships will be competitive and will take place in late October. Shortlisted candidates should be available for interview in late October, 2018. Commencement of the Project is envisaged for the 1st November 2018.

Please direct further information and queries about the Scholarships to

Please email your full application to the School of Design, University Limerick to:

Caroline Grogan:

The closing date for applications: 5pm, Friday 19th of October, 2018.

Design Practice & Education

We are actively engaged in research for design education, continuing professional development and design practice.

Design for Health

Our user-centered work in health and wellness focuses on humanising technology that benefits both patients and clinicians.

Design for Sustainability & Society

Our research projects take a design led approach to framing and tackling societal, environmental and consumption issues.

Human Factors in industry

Our research on work related musculoskeletal disorders examines occupational health and industrial ergonomics.