Bournemouth University has announced it will offer sixteen new digital scholarships to help improve diversity and address a skills shortage in the UK’s computing and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors.
The Government-funded scholarships are available for two exciting new Masters courses where students can develop technologies to help the public interact with systems driven by AI, or to advance the use of AI in the gaming sector.
They will be for £10,000 and are designed to encourage more women, black students, registered disabled students and students from low-income families to study AI and data science. They are also aimed at people without a scientific background, to help them gain the skills needed to move into careers where they can work with the most advanced technologies.
Students on the MSc Human Centred Artificial Intelligence course will explore technical solutions - such as advanced health applications, robots and autonomous vehicles - that interact with human beings in safe, ethical and reliable ways.
“It is about designing AI solutions with people in mind,” explained course developer and Deputy Head of Computing at BU, Dr Vegard Engen. “It will combine human-computer interaction, data science as well as artificial intelligence. Therefore, it is a field that requires a thorough understanding of contemporary technologies as well as the needs, expectations and behaviour of everyday people.”
AI has been used in computer games for many years to create virtual worlds and characters which are controlled by the game engine. Students on the MSc Human Centred Artificial Intelligence for Games Development course will build the knowledge and AI skills that are constantly evolving to improve the player’s experience - for example by making non-player characters ever more believable and less predictable in their behaviours.
“AI is becoming more and more sophisticated in gaming,” explained Professor Fred Charles, head of BU’s Department for Creative Technology. “It can create endless open terrains for the players to explore, generate different narratives whilst players explore unfolding stories, and create ways for the players to interact with the games through more natural interfaces, such as speech recognition. Our students will be able to learn all about these exciting evolutions.”
The ethical implications of AI will be a fundamental part of both courses, reflecting the ever-growing role it plays in our daily lives. “AI solutions may be processing what you say, what you write, your tax information, electronic health records, and even control your home devices,” explained Dr Engen. “So responsible and ethical development and application is paramount. While generally designed to improve our lives, there may be unintended risks such as privacy breaches as well as discrimination if there is bias in the data used to train the AI solution,” he continued.
The scholarships are part of an £8 million funding package for digital scholarships from Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI). BU is one of thirty universities chosen to receive funding from the Office for Students (OfS) after a competitive bidding process.
The two courses will add to Bournemouth University’s growing portfolio of data science, artificial intelligence and game development expertise. As well as being taught by experienced staff, students will benefit from the strong links the university has developed with the creative industries and opportunities to put their skills into practice in codejams and hackathons.
“This is an exciting area, where graduates are in increasing demand,” said Dr Engen. “The global AI market is expected to increase by approximately 260% by 2029 and these courses, and scholarships, will help us address a shortage of specialists in the UK.
“As an added advantage, they get to develop all their skills in a beautiful location on the south coast!” he concluded.
Anyone interested in applying for either course can register their interest or find out more information about their eligibility for a scholarship on the course pages: