Dr Stephen Thompson

s-thompson-150px.jpgAcademic Lead of Graduate Studies
e: sthompson@cardiffmet.ac.uk
w: metatechnicityresearch.net

Specialist Subject Areas

Research : Design and cognition, practice and philosophy

I am a designer-theorist who is concerned with metaphysiological interplay of the body and tools in the enaction of cognition. My research focusses upon the relational nature of cognition and the material world, as it is enacted by means of a widely distributed and emergent bio-technic ‘soma’.

Academic Development : Curriculum design and the student experience.

For several years I was the Deputy Dean of Cardiff School of Art & Design developing and ensuring the student experience quality of the curriculum. My current role in the University builds upon my particular expertise in the development of new transdisciplinary academic curricula and strategies as well as the impact of academic regulations upon the student experience. I am also the Schools Academic Lead of Graduate Studies – (MPhil / PhD and DProf) and (MRes, MA, MSc and MFA).


Master of Arts Royal College of Art
BA (Hons) Design for Industry


Stephen started his career working for a number of design consultancies in Britain and Germany before establishing his own design practice and eventually moving into a career as a University Art & Design academic where he has built a reputation as both a transdisciplinary theorist and an expert in transdisciplinary education.

Stephen is a co-convenor of the Metatechnicity Research at Cardiff Metropolitan University, and a member of the Transtechnicity Research Network at the University of Plymouth.

Stephen leads the Design Futures Masters pathway and is the Director of the Master of Research (Art & Design) programme. He also supervises 9 PhD researchers and teaches undergraduates cognition, conceptual and speculative design and ideas for the progression of humanity.

He is a trustee of a charity, OpenUp Music : The Disabled Youth Orchestra.


Current research

Working towards a Theory of Volitional Technoetics : New understandings emerging from neuroscience and the cognitive sciences are challenging previously held scientific assumptions regarding the nature of thinking and mentality that throw into challenge representational models of reality. These emerging ideas illuminate the urgency of a need for a reframing of discussions in the arts and humanities in relation to the ways in which we understand what it is to be human, our relationship to the material world, and the nature of the artefacts through which we determine our histories and thereby our place in the world.

Our Theory of Volitional Technoetics aims to provide a means to bring fresh insight to trajectories of human development by (re)writing consciousness into histories of technology. We are particularly concerned with the non-linear development of technologies, practices and ideas.


Broadly speaking, where designers understand cognition as a means to design effective environments and artefacts, Cognitive Archaeologists study artefacts and environments for evidence of how human cognition has developed over time.

Together with our Cognitive Archaeology, Cognitive Science and Human Centred Design Colleagues at a number of other Universities – with whom we share a standpoint that environments and artefacts are best understood as extensions of human cognition – our research  group (Metatechnology) are finding exciting synergies between design and archaeological thinking and processes. This new knowledge helps us to understand archaeology, human evolution and also helps us to design better new technologies.


Principal Publications and/or Exhibitions

THOMPSON, S. 2013. We need to talk about Joey: the mechanical boy. Dialogues at the Interlude: Between body, artefact and discourse, July 12-14, 2013. Plymouth University and Plymouth Arts Centre. Plymouth. 2013

HUMPHRIES, T., and THOMPSON, S. 2012. A Hippocratic Intuition for Balance in Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas. Reinstating the Visual: The Transtechnology Reader 2011. Plymouth University.

EARDLEY, R., GILL, S., and THOMPSON, S. 2012. Investigating the biomechanical hand and its role in designing interactions. DIS 2012: Doctorial Consortium, June 11-15, 2012, Newcastle upon Tyne 2012.
THOMPSON, S. 2010. Enchantment, the Designer and the Technology of Fantastic Reality. Shadow Play: Alchemy, Redolence & Enchantment. Conference, Cardiff, November 2010.
EARDLEY, R., DINKA, D., and THOMPSON, S. 2010. Designing VoIP video-communication for the home. Presented at the Group 2010 workshop on Connecting Families: New Technologies, Family Communication, and the Impact on Domestic Space. ACM conference Group 2010, Sanibel Island, FL., USA.
THOMPSON, S. 2010. Engineering the Soma: A Posthuman Design Perspective. Zoontechnics. Cardiff. May 2010.
THOMPSON, S. 2010. Joey a Mechanical Boy. The Transtechnology Reader 2010. Plymouth University.

THOMPSON, S. 2009. Joey: A design scenario for an ordinary life in the future. Technoetic Arts, Vol. 7. 1. July, 2009.
THOMPSON, S. 2008. Artefacts, Technicity and Humanisation: industrial design and the problem of anoetic technologies. Doctoral Thesis. Plymouth. University of Plymouth.
THOMPSON, S. 2007. Mind the Gap: Technology as soma. Journal of Human-Centered Systems. Vol 21 No 4, October 2007. London. Springer

Doctoral Research Completions

Dr Martyn Woodward
The Multi-dimensional Depth of the Image: Body-Environment-Artefact
(PhD) (ESF) (2014) Transtechnology Research, University of Plymouth.
Dr John Vines
Ageing Futures: Towards Cognitively Inclusive Digital Media Products (PhD) (AHRC) (2010) Transtechnology Research, University of Plymouth.
Dr Taslima Miah
A Postcolonial Critique of Industrial Design: a critical evaluation of the relationship of culture and hegemony to design practice and education since the late 20th century. (PhD) (2014) Transtechnology Research, University of Plymouth.

Supervision of current Doctoral Research

Theo Humphries
Understanding The Function Of Humour In Product Design, And For Product Design. (MPhil) (2013) Metatechnology Research, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Rachel Eardley
The unexplored opportunities of the biomechanical human hand and the role it plays in the design of technology. (MPhil) (2013) Design Research, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Alise Piebalga
How do developments in hybrid art affect the perception of the human–technology relationship? ArtSci Research, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

M. Fakri Othman
Novel Techniques for Teaching Handwriting Utilising Rotoscoping. (MPhil) (2013) CARIAD, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Supervision of  current MPhil Research Students

Theo Roe
Understanding the Role of Enchantment in the Industrial Design Process. ArtSci Research, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Henry Gruffudd Hill
Design and Archaeology and the Technium: Dialogues and methods. Metatechnology Research, Cardiff Metropolitan University