Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Graphics and visualisation

This research area focuses on the synthesis and manipulation of visual content, including augmented and virtual reality, animation, immersive technologies and novel ways of visualising data.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

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).

We aim to have a portfolio that:

  • reflects increasing interdisciplinary connections – such as 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 to advance graphics by linking to new developments in the area of image and vision computing – for example, in image capture and analysis for more realistic rendering
  • reflects the importance of graphics and visualisation to information technology, construction, healthcare and manufacturing – for example, in 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 – to support decision-making.

We also aim to strengthen links between this and other research areas, including:

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 it.

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 our Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme, especially the Data-enabled Decision Making and the People at the Heart of ICT cross-ICT priorities.

Researchers should 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, including:

Why we're doing it

Graphics research

Graphics research in the UK is considered to be high quality, with many submissions to top-quality journals and particular strengths in geometric modelling, rendering and animation.

UK researchers in graphics are closely linked to the UK’s 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), where it can be difficult to engage in research.

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.

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. This includes small, independent companies as well as larger ones such as Framestore, the BBC and the Foundry.


The visualisation element in this research area has had fewer submissions to top-quality journals, which may be partly due to the reported lack of academic capacity in this part of the research area.

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 pipeline, with a lack of graduate expertise in this area.

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. Large manufacturing companies are increasingly using visualisation techniques and big computer science companies like Google, Facebook and Apple are recruiting graduates.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Graphics and Visualisation.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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