Baillie Gifford has dedicated funding to support research into the ethical challenges posed by the growing use of data and artificial intelligence. As part of this initiative the Business School welcomes applications from prospective students for a topic within the Edinburgh Futures Institute Baillie Gifford scholarship programme on the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Key Information
Deadline The deadline for this scholarship has now passed
Full tuition fee coverage, yearly stipend at UKRI rates, and an annual research budget
Contact Email Email Scholarship Support Team

The Edinburgh Futures Institute PhD Scholarship Programme

Global investment firm Baillie Gifford has dedicated funding to support research into the ethical challenges posed by the growing use of data and artificial intelligence. As part of this initiative the University of Edinburgh welcomes applications from prospective students for projects on five distinct topics:

  • Fair and Ethical Credit Decisions, supervised by Galina Andreeva (Business School) and Michael Rovatsos (School of Informatics)
  • The University of Data: Ethical and Social Futures of Data-driven Education, supervised by Karen Gregory (School of Social and Political Science) and Jen Ross (Moray House School of Education and Sport)
  • A Data Ethics Framework for Agriculture, supervised by Kirsteen Shields and Jon Hillier (Global Academies)
  • AI and Ethical Decision Making in a Resource-limited Healthcare Environment, supervised by Ewen Harrison (Usher Institute) and Sarah Cunningham Burley (Centre for Biomedicine, Self, and Society)
  • Sex Robots Among Us: Ethical and Feminist Issues, supervised by Elinor Mason (School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Science) and Sarah Parry (School of Social and Political Science)

While the selected student will be supervised within the School in which their lead supervisor is based, they will take part in collaborative cohort activities as one of five PhD students in the Edinburgh Futures Institute's (EFI) Baillie Gifford scholarship programme in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Headed by Shannon Vallor, the first Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at EFI, the aim of this programme is to cultivate multidisciplinary skills and knowledge in the application of ethical values to data-driven technologies. More broadly, the goal is to develop the shared vocabulary and methodologies needed to support new models of education and research into the complex challenges and opportunities that data and AI present.

Fair and Ethical Credit Decisions

The lack of credit history has been a big hurdle in credit approval, especially for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, such as young people, women, immigrants or ethnic minorities, and low-income segments. Recent research suggests that using more personal data may help the credit inclusion of currently excluded or under-represented groups. However, in the developed world (such as the UK) there are growing concerns about the increasing use of personal data for credit risk assessment, since little is known of the attitudes towards such applications. Similarly, despite remarkable successes in the use of machine-learning technology, significant reservations are voiced about its lack of transparency and possibility of amplifying unfair outcomes.

This topic is of great societal importance, since credit is an important way of improving prosperity, economic opportunity, and inclusion, but at the same time it is necessary to ensure that ethical aspects are not compromised.

The project will address the above problem with three main objectives:

  1. To assess how different machine-learning algorithms compare in terms of amplifying credit discrimination or unequal access to credit
  2. To evaluate how different levels of information may improve the chances of different demographic and socioeconomic groups to be accepted for credit
  3. To provide a comprehensive exploration of what is perceived as a fair and ethical credit decision by different groups of stakeholders, and what kind of data is acceptable to use in credit risk assessment


Full tuition fee coverage for up to 4 years, with a yearly stipend at UKRI rates (estimated to be approximately £15,245) and an annual research budget of £2,000.

Please note that we welcome part-time study applications.


Applicants to the Fair and Ethical Credit Decisions project must meet the following requirements:

1. PhD Application

All prospective candidates must apply for our PhD (Management) and expect to join in September 2020. Scholarship applications that do not have a corresponding PhD application will not be considered.

2. Academic

Entry to the PhD in Management programme normally requires a minimum qualification (or expected qualification if you are a current Master's student) of above-average academic achievement, typically 65% or above overall at the Master's level, with a distinction-level dissertation (or UK equivalent).

This particular project employs mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative research. Yet candidates with background in only one area (qual or quants) are encouraged to apply if they are willing to learn additional skills. Nevertheless, priority will be given to quantitiative degrees in the following subjects:

  • Statistics
  • Data Science
  • Data Analytics
  • Computer Science
  • Informatics
  • Financial Modelling

The knowledge of credit risk models, classification algorithms, and predictive modelling is also particularly welcome. The applicant should be skilled in using software packages and computer languages such as SAS, R, or Python.

3. English

You must meet the English requirements for the PhD in Management. The most commonly approved certificate is an IELTS, for which the minimum accepted score is 7.0 overall with at least 6.0 in each section.

4. Other Requirements

  • Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, contemporary higher education contexts, data privacy and ethics, and relevant data policies
  • Prior study or experience related to data science, digital methods and/or innovative methods is desirable
  • Demonstrate a strong interest in multidisciplinary research, teaching, and collaboration with partners within and beyond academia
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally, in writing, and through social media for various audiences (namely academic publications, practitioners and policy makers, users of services)
  • Demonstrate an ability to work with people in different roles and organisations
  • Demonstrate an ability to manage yourself and workload within competing deadlines

How to Apply

Applicants must submit the following necessary documents using the online programme application form. Please note that no research proposal is required.

To apply for the scholarship, all applicants should submit a personal statement/cover letter indicating their interest for this particular scholarship, and why they should be considered.

  • Personal statement/cover letter
  • Resume/CV
  • Degree transcripts–please note translations should be provided if the originals are not in English
  • 2 reference letters–at least one from an academic referee
  • Evidence of English-language proficiency

For more guidance on how to use the online application system and the required documents, see our guidance pages:

Application Deadline & Award Announcement Date

Deadline: 12:00 (noon), Friday 15 May 2020

Scholarship interviews are likely to take place at the beginning of June.

Please note: We are aware that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may require arrangements for remote interviews by videoconference. The University of Edinburgh has issued advice for prospective students regarding the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation:


Fair and Ethical Credit Decisions Project Enquiries
Galina Andreeva

Business School PhD Management Enquiries
PhD Office

General Enquiries About this Scholarship