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Equity in the provision of active travel infrastructure - learning from a city region approach

Project Description

The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), in partnership with the Sheffield City Region Combined Mayoral Authority (SCR) and Living Streets, is pleased to offer this fully funded ESRC PhD studentship as part of the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership.

There has been a recent acceleration of global policy interest in the promotion of active travel. In the UK, cities such as London, Manchester, and Sheffield are pioneering efforts to radically improve provision for active travel. Whilst much of this effort and associated investment focuses on creating new and improved spaces for active modes (e.g. segregated cycle lanes, improved pedestrian crossings) there is a challenge in delivering the benefits of such interventions equitably. Certain populations (e.g., in low-income neighbourhoods; ethnic minority groups; the elderly) are traditionally underserved by the provision of transport infrastructure and services. It is vital that efforts to increase active travel are not to the detriment of social and spatial equity.

The aim of this research is to contribute to how we understand and address equity (social and spatial; horizontal and vertical) with regards to active travel, particularly in the context of the increasingly significant investments being made. Working in partnership with the SCR Mayoral Combined Authority the successful applicant will develop an innovative mixed-methods research project to understand issues of equity in the case-study area. We anticipate that the project will involve applying spatial analysis/GIS methods to examine the spatial equity of active travel provision in SCR and qualitative data collection to explore the access and equity concerns of households across the city-region. The research will be used to understand how policies and funding mechanisms can adapt to better promote equity in active travel benefits.

The successful applicant will undertake a placement at SCR during year two of the project, which provides a valuable opportunity for professional and skills development. It also enables the successful applicant to work alongside members of the Active Travel Advisory Board, who support the work of the SCR Active Travel Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey.

The successful applicant will have a keen interest in transport equity and spatial analysis, and in conducting mixed methods studies. These interests might have been developed, for example, through recent undergraduate or Master’s study, or through a related policy or practice role. Whilst some knowledge of either spatial methods or qualitative research would be advantageous, supervisors will support the successful applicant to access relevant training in research to help them to develop their own skills.

How to apply
Potential applicants are encouraged to contact a member of the proposed supervisory team for an informal discussion prior to completing their application: Prof. Ed Ferrari () or Dr Stephen Parkes (). Dr Rebecca Sharpe will also be part of the supervisory team.

Applicants must email a postgraduate application form to by 12 noon on Friday 6 March 2019.

The application form asks for a 1500-word research proposal. You should use this space to outline:
a) why you are interested in doing PhD research on this topic
b) how your skills and experience to date (including your undergraduate and/or masters dissertation, if relevant) prepare you to embark on the project
c) any challenges that you foresee in conducting the research and how you might approach or solve them

Please note, at this stage, you only need to include the names and contact details for referees and do not have to request references.
It is anticipated that interviews will be held on Tuesday 17 March 2020 although we reserve the right to alter this date if required.

Selection process
Successful applicants will be required to attend an interview where you will be asked to answer questions about your understanding of the proposed research. All interviews will be in person - Skype will not be available.

It is anticipated that interviews will be held on Tuesday 17 March 2020 although we reserve the right to alter this date if required.

For more information on eligibility for, and terms and conditions of, ESRC studentships, please see

Funding Notes

The start date for the studentship is 1 October 2020 and it can be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis. The award includes payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend at RCUK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend rates (£15,009 in 2019/20 full-time; pro-rata for part-time students).


These awards are only available to nationals from the UK and EU and are not open to applicants who are liable to pay academic fees at the international fee rate. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award (paying fees and maintenance at standard Research Council rates). EU applicants are normally eligible for a fees-only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award.

As a minimum, applicants should possess a class 1 or 2.1 Honours degree. Applicants without Master's level training that meets the ESRC core social sciences research methods training requirements will receive funding to undertake this prior to commencing their PhD.

Applicants should note that there are two possible options for undertaking a White Rose PhD:
+3 programme: funding for a three-year PhD for students that have already met the majority of the core social sciences research methods training requirements.
1+3 programme: a fully funded and integrated one-year Masters programme precedes the three-year PhD to deliver the core social sciences research methods training requirements for students who do not already meet these.

How good is research at Sheffield Hallam University in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.20

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