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Disabled people, active travel and climate activism in the UK

   Department of Geography and Planning

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  Dr Morag Rose  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

About the Project:

Active travel schemes, centering walking and cycling, are an important facet of policies promoting sustainability and low carbon travel. Active travel also has a vital role to play in physical, mental and community wellbeing. However, Disabled people’s diverse needs and intersectional identities have not always been taken into account when designing active travel schemes. This was one of many inequalities exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic when a range of well-intentioned initiatives were implemented. Many had unintended consequences, for example pavement dining limiting access or failure to consider non-standard bikes.

Applications are invited for a candidate to work on a qualitative research project exploring these themes. They will generate new understandings of Disabled Peoples environmental activism and how to ensure active travel is inclusive. With support, the candidate will design a project centred around lived experiences of inclusion or exclusion within walking and cycling infrastructure. They will explore the impact of policy decisions and contribute to important contemporary debates about 1) the dynamics and politics around active travel 2) the diverse experiences of Disabled people within the UK and 3) the crucial role Disabled people have to play in debates around climate change, sustainability and green infrastructure. Our definition of Disability is inclusive of physical and sensory impairments, chronic illness, neurodiversity and mental health. Our work is rooted in the social model which considers the environment as disabling, and asserts the human rights and dignity of Disabled people.

The candidate will be supported to grow the project in directions which are of most interest to them. For example, regarding geographical focus. We welcome candidates with experience of local active travel initiatives whether as an activist, participant or policy maker. We also welcome candidates involved with Disabled Peoples Organisations or access campaigns. An interest in creative and or participatory methods for research and dissemination is encouraged. We hope the candidate will build relationships with relevant groups and organisations to increase participation in, and the impact of, this research. The candidate should have a strong understanding of qualitative methodologies, and experience of using one or more of: qualitative surveys, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, ethnography.


Start Date: 1st October 2023

Further Details:

This PhD project is funded by The Faculty of Science & Engineering at The University of Liverpool and will start on 1st October 2023.

Successful candidates who meet the University of Liverpool eligibility criteria will be awarded a Faculty of Science & Engineering studentship for 3.5 years, covering UK tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend (e.g. £17,688 p.a. for 2022-23).

Faculty of Science & Engineering students benefit from bespoke graduate training and £5,000 for training, travel and conferences.

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience. Our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience. Students must complete a personal statement profoma and ensure this is included in their online application.

How to Apply:

All applicants must complete the personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not. The proforma can be found here: More information on the application process can be found here: When applying online, students should ensure they include the department name in the ‘Programme Applied For’ section of the online form, as well as the Faculty of Science & Engineering as the ‘studentship type’ in the finance section.

Funding Notes

UK students are only eligible for a fully-funded  Faculty of Science & Engineering studentship; overseas students are eligible to apply if they can financially cover the difference in UK and Overseas tuition fees, cover the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK, as these are excluded from the funding.
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