Using computer vision to determine emotion in animals

An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by Hartpury University


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UWE Bristol. The studentship will be funded by Hartpury University : See Hartpury Advert (PDF) for further details.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1st April 2022

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 9th February 2022

About the Studentship

The aim of this studentship is to use computer vision technology to monitor animal emotion. The project will use facial expression analysis to obtain signals of emotional wellbeing, both positive and negative, such as pleasure, pain, and stress via facial cues. Computer models will be used to learn facial features for livestock and companion animals that are indicative of the differing emotions for the generation of vision-based tracking technology. Digital technology offers the opportunity to provide an objective assessment of animals and support their management. As animal management becomes increasingly data informed, how that information is best utilised by owners is still poorly understood and particularly for managing individual animals. The project would suit a student with a background in computer science. The objectives of the work are to:

  1. Carry out studies to collate training images of animal faces and elicit changes in emotion
  2. Develop and train computer vision models to detect emotions
  3. Propose a technological solution that enhances the monitoring of animal wellbeing

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email 


The studentship is available from 1st April 2022 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £14,000 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study. 

Eligibility Criteria

The following criteria will be taken into account when considering applications: 

  • The strength of your professional and academic profile, as demonstrated through previous study and/or professional experience
  • A background in computer science 
  • The quality, invention and viability of ideas relating to the research project you are applying for 
  • The contribution you are able to make to the Hartpury research community and your host department, in terms of both research and teaching 

Candidates should also be aware of the following:
The normal expectation is that applicants will hold at least a 2:1 or a Masters qualification from a UK university or a degree of comparable standing from a university outside the UK. The candidate’s degree relevant to the studentship should demonstrate their potential for practice led research or alternative evidence of research aptitude.
Applicants whose first language is not English require a recognised English language qualification. The minimum entry requirement is GCSE English at grade C or above or IELTS score 7.0 or TOEFL score 600 (or demonstrable equivalent).

How to apply

To apply for a PhD studentship you must send the following documents to :

  • A curriculum vitae (maximum 3 pages) 
  • A covering letter outlining your suitability for the studentship 
  • A recent piece of critical writing you have completed (max 3000 words) 
If English is not your first language, certification of English language qualification

Further information


The closing date for applications is Wednesday 9th February 2022.

Interviews will take place on 16th February 2022. If you have not heard from us by 26th February 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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