Graphics and visualisation

The synthesis and manipulation of visual content. This research area includes rendering, augmented reality, virtual reality, animation and immersive technologies, as well as visual computer languages and novel ways of visualising complex data that will enable understanding and exploring of, and extraction of value from, information. Visual analytics uses visual representation to support data analysis and decision-making.

We will continue to support core graphics research where the UK has strengths: geometric modelling, rendering and animation. This strategy also recognises the importance of visualisation research to data science (in developing novel ways of visualising complex data) and to supporting decision-making (by understanding, exploring and extracting value from complex and potentially multiple sources of information).

By the end of the Delivery Plan period, we aim to have a portfolio that:

  • Reflects increasing interdisciplinary connections (e.g. with graphics connecting to audio and haptics to create new human-computer interfaces, particularly for virtual reality and immersive entertainment)
  • Continues to be highly relevant to the creative industries, and should continue to advance graphics by linking to new developments in the area of Image and Vision Computing (e.g. in image capture and analysis for more realistic rendering of scenes and faces)
  • Continues to reflect the importance of Graphics and Visualisation to sectors such as Information Technology (IT), construction, healthcare and manufacturing (in terms of digital design and prototyping, virtual environments, virtual reality for training and virtual manufacturing)
  • Continues to link visualisation with Information Systems, Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence Technologies for applications in novel data analytics, to understand, explore and extract value from data, including complex and potentially multiple sources of information, in order to support decision-making

We also aim to strengthen links between this research area and Human-Computer Interaction, Psychology, and Vision, Hearing and Other Senses; this will contribute to informing and evaluating design of user interfaces for presenting information visually, and to presenting information in the multi-modal ways that humans have evolved to perceive.

A further goal is to address concerns over lack of academic capacity in faculty and early-career researchers in visualisation, to ensure the long-term health of this area.

Graphics and Visualisation researchers will play a central role in addressing ICT priorities for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Theme, especially the Data Enabled Decision Making and the People at the Heart of ICT cross-ICT priorities, in terms of focusing on new methods to help support people making decisions based on data.

Researchers should also note the Cross-Disciplinarity and Co-Creation cross-ICT priority, in terms of shared identification and ownership of research challenges. Graphics and Visualisation researchers should ensure effective communication with those in other contributing research areas (e.g. Image and Vision Computing, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Systems, Artificial Intelligence Technologies, Vision, Hearing and Other Senses).


Graphics research in the UK is considered to be high-quality, with many submissions to top-quality journals. As noted above, the UK has particular strengths in geometric modelling, rendering and animation. (Evidence source 1,2)

UK researchers in graphics are closely linked to the UKEPSRCs world-leading film, TV, games and post-production industry. This field is important in terms of the contribution it makes to the economy via the creative industries. In 2014, Gross Value Added (GVA) was £84 billion (5.2% of the UK economy). This is an area with very innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with which it can be difficult to engage in research. (Evidence source 3,4)

This research is also important to sectors such as IT, construction, healthcare and manufacturing (in terms of digital design and prototyping, virtual environments, virtual reality for training, and virtual manufacturing) (Evidence source 1).

The majority of people with high skill levels who trained with EPSRC support did so via Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and are being recruited by the film, games, TV and post-production industry - including small independent companies as well as larger ones (e.g. Framestore, the BBC and the Foundry). (Evidence source 1,5)

The visualisation element in this research area has had fewer submissions to top-quality journals, which may partly be due to the reported lack of academic capacity in this part of the research area. (Evidence source 2 )There are pockets of excellence at some UK universities, but the number of research-active academics in visualisation is low in the UK, relative to other nations such as the US and Germany. This is having an effect on the academic -people pipelineEPSRC, with a lack of graduate expertise in this area. (Evidence source 1,2,5)

There is, however, heavy demand from industry for data visualisation, with scalability to huge datasets being important. One challenge will be to deal with complex, diverse, incomplete and inconsistent data. (Evidence source 1,6,7) Large manufacturing companies are increasingly using visualisation techniques and big computer science companies (e.g. Google, Facebook and Apple) are recruiting graduates. (Evidence source 1)

Graphics and Visualisation has close links to the Human-Computer Interaction, Information Systems, Image and Vision Computing, Vision Hearing and Other Senses, and Artificial Intelligence Technologies research areas.

This research area is expected to contribute strongly to Connected, Productive and Resilient Nation Outcomes. Ambitions of particular relevance include:

P4: Drive business innovation through digital transformation

This research area is expected to contribute to new digital design tools, modelling and simulation for manufacturing across many sectors.

C1: Enable a competitive, data-driven economy

This area is expected to contribute to development of the smart tools and analytical techniques needed to generate actionable information from large and diverse datasets.

R3: Develop better solutions to acute threats: cyber, defence, financial and health

Visualisation is expected to contribute to the use of data analytics to better anticipate and adapt to threats in these spheres.

  1. Community engagement (individual input, group feedback and team visits).
  2. Input from the ICT Strategic Advisory Team, the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC) Executive Committee and Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 panellists.
  3. Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Reports, (2016).
  4. Nesta, A Map of the UK Games Industry (PDF), (2014).
  5. Analysis of EPSRC funding data.
  6. Data science meeting at the Advanced Technologies Institute.
  7. The Alan Turing Institute, Theoretical Foundation of Visual Analytics, (2016). 

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Graphics and visualisation (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: ICT Theme
Department: ICT
Organisation: EPSRC