Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skills: a philosophical study

Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skills: a philosophical study


Human Sciences

Project Name

The Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skills: a philosophical study

Project Description

A full-time PhD Macquarie University Research Training Program Scholarship (MQRTP) for either an Australian or an international student is available in the Department of Cognitive Science, to work on Professor John Sutton’s ARC-funded project ‘The Cognitive Ecologies of Collaborative Embodied Skills: a philosophical study’.

A number of potential PhD research topics are available within this project, depending on the experience, skills, and interests of the best applicants.

This project aims to develop a new theory of embodied collaboration and interaction in expert groups. It asks how individuals with diverse technical and emotional skills coordinate actions and decisions, sometimes acting as if of one mind. How do experts mesh distinct but complementary capacities, or recover together from challenges or adversity? The project combines foundational philosophical and cognitive theory with empirical and ethnographic studies of experts in the real world cognitive ecologies of sport and music.

Specifically, we seek to characterise the roles of individuals in collaborative embodied skill, and to determine what disparate group members bring to and do in expert team performance, complementing each other in joint action; to identify cues to collaborative embodied skill which are distributed across entire cognitive ecologies; and to illustrate and explain how shared memories and shared emotions influence control of skilled group action. We thereby make concrete progress in philosophical debates on embodied, enactive, distributed, and group minds; and implement a focus on historical and cultural dimensions of skill, working closely with practitioners in sport and music.

The PhD student will work on an independent project within the overall study. It is likely that one project will address foundational issues in the philosophy and cognitive theory of skilled action, while one will work in depth with expert groups in sport or music.

Applicants must meet the entry requirements for the program and may have a background in philosophy, psychology, anthropology, sport and exercise science, human movement, cognitive science, music, performance, or a related discipline.

Prospective applicants should, in the first instance, contact John Sutton for further information:

Other important information:

Cognitive Science at Macquarie University is a vibrant, research-focussed department that offers its many doctoral and postdoctoral researchers a world-class intellectual environment. The Department is also home to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Cognition and its Disorders (

This project is associated with the interdisciplinary Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training CEPET (

Funding for PhD students to present at conferences and/or to visit research groups overseas during their candidature is available.

Please quote the allocation reference number 2018312 on your application form.


John Sutton

This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake a direct entry 3-year PhD program.

The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Offset and a Living Allowance Stipend. The value and tenure of the scholarship is a “MQRES” full-time stipend rate of $27,082 per annum (in 2018 tax exempt for up to 3 years - indexed annually).

Applicants will need to complete a HDR Candidature and Scholarship Application Form via the Online Application System and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. Further information can be found on the How to Apply page.  

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants are expected to have a record of excellent academic performance and preferably, additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the Rating Scholarship Applicants section for more information about these guidelines.

Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer.

Please quote the allocation number on your application.

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