Female employee talking about history, holding a tablet

Explore our work in experience design

One of our areas of expertise in Digital and Creative Technologies

Cultural and heritage locations like theatres, museums, castles and stately homes increasingly use experience design and digital technology in the development, preservation and delivery of visitor experiences.

For example, visitors to the Science Museum in London can immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience by returning to Earth from space in the pilot's seat of a Soyuz Capsule. Visitors to buildings managed by Historic England can view 3D reconstructions of old buildings to see what they might have looked like throughout history. 

The use of digital technology is inescapable, and new audiences have grown up with digital experiences, so expect digital enhancement during their visits. Organisations in the cultural and heritage sectors need to consider how they can implement experience design and the benefits of implementation.

Research topics

Our research covers the following topics:

  • Digital heritage
  • Digital humanities
  • Digital museums
  • Museum technology
  • Digital culture
  • Digital cultural heritage

Our research is helping cultural heritage organisations plan for the future, such as by examining whether the cost of implementing new technology and hiring the staff to use it is justified by its impact on visitor experience. We provide resources, data and research for organisations to explore new digital opportunities and understand how to implement ideas effectively.

The work we do is also a source of knowledge and educational materials for schools, colleges and specific disciplines in universities – and helps enhance current teaching methods by re-framing the material in a way that's more interactive and engaging for a younger generation.

We also explore the relationship between technology and cultural heritage from a visitor's perspective. We seek to understand visitors' motivations to use the technology, their expectations and perspective on what it does, and whether it provides the best experience. 

Methods and facilities

We explore visitor engagement and participation using ethnography, observations, content analysis, conversation analysis and grounded theory. We also use quantitative research methods including experiments, prototyping, 3D modelling, network analysis and digitisation. 

We use immersive environments, virtual reality labs and our motion capture suite to place users in a digitally created environment as though it were real. Through this illusionary experience, users can interact and feel part of the environment – even though it's a construct – providing genuine research data.

Partnerships and funders

Our research is used by cultural organisations to engage with current and potential visitors through digital innovation. Our partners include the Royal Shakespeare Company, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mary Rose Museum, Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, and the New Theatre Royal.

Our research has been funded by Innovate UK, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy. 

Project highlights

  • Unpath'd Waters: Marine and Maritime Collections in the UK

    We're working on a large discovery project as part of AHRC's Towards a National Collection funded-project, led by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.

    Unpath'd aims to reshape the future of UK marine heritage by devising novel ways of searching across collections, visualising underwater landscapes, and identifying wrecks and artefacts from them. The project will also deliver digital tools to protect our most significant heritage while inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and new questions to guide future research.

  • Enabling XR Enterprise (EXRE)

    We worked with a range of regional cultural heritage partners to develop immersive XR prototypes as part of Enabling XR Enterprise (eXRe) to use eXtended Reality technology to help boost the city’s visitor and cultural economy.

    Working with Portsmouth City Council, and led by the University’s Centre for Creative and Immersive eXtended Reality (CCIXR) in partnership with The Mary Rose Trust, Spinnaker Tower, Victorious Festival, Gosport Borough Council, Aspex Visual Arts Trust and The D-Day Story. 

  • Online User Research of the UK's Gallery, Library, Archive, and Museum (GLAM) digital collections

    We investigated existing user research relating to the UK’s Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum (GLAM) digital collections.

    Exploring relevant literature in order to identify the ways in which users of cultural heritage digital collections have been categorised. 

  • Magic Leap programme

    We worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the Magic Leap programme, exploring how performance is brought to life using spatial computing that detects and responds to the environment, blending the real-world with the digital.

  • Mary Rose figurehead recreation

    We worked with the Mary Rose Museum to create a 3D visualisation of the ship's figurehead by piecing together shadow photographs and coordinate data.

    The 3D image of the figurehead can now be seen by visitors to the museum in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.

  • Virtual Reality In Entertainment – The State Of The Industry

    Our virtual reality research contributed to a BAFTA White Paper titled Virtual Reality In Entertainment – The State Of The Industry.

    This research explored the features, benefits, and limitations of different forms of virtual and augmented reality. We looked at current psychological and physical risks, the significance of its value, and best-practice for entertainment and the mission of BAFTA.

    This research was used to inform the new BAFTA VR committee on whether they should create a new awards programme for VR. They decided to integrate VR into existing awards programmes.

  • Always Moving

    The new London Symphony Orchestra visual identity.

  • Exposing the sacred monumentality in Ugarit

    Remodelling the Temple of Baal.

Virtual Reality Relics - Introduction title with logo

Podcast | Life Solved: Virtual Reality Relics ft Dr Claire Bailey-Ross

In this episode Dr Claire Bailey-Ross explains how virtual, augmented and extended reality techniques are enhancing our learning experiences in museums, galleries and online.

Listen Now

Interested in a PhD in Digital and Creative Technologies?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees—including PhDs and MPhils—at our Digital &and Creative Technologies postgraduate research degrees page.

Our members

Claire Stephanie Bailey-Ross Portrait

Dr Claire Bailey-Ross

Associate Dean (Academic)


School of Creative Technologies

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

PhD Supervisor

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Tarek Teba Portrait

Dr Tarek Teba

Associate Professor in Architectural Heritage


School of Architecture

Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

PhD Supervisor

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Virtual Reality Relics - Introduction title with logo

Listen to Virtual Reality Relics: A Life Solved podcast

In our 85th Life Solved podcast episode, Dr Claire Bailey-Ross explains how virtual, augmented, and extended reality techniques are enhancing our learning experiences in museums, galleries, and online.

Listen to episode

Discover our areas of expertise

Experience design is one of our areas of expertise in the Digital and Creative Technologies research area. Explore the others here.

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