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  Evaluating the impact of the novel Welsh Government ‘Active Travel Town’ on inequalities in travel modes and physical activity and to inform policy development

   MRC GW4 BioMed Doctoral Training Partnership

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  Prof Ruth Kipping  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Active travel, such as walking and cycling, is accessible and affordable and has potential as a public health policy to promote routine physical activity and reduce inequalities. The Welsh Government and Transport for Wales (TfW) will work with a town in Wales to be an ‘Active Travel Town’ to increase the use of active modes of travel. In this project you will work with government agencies and the Local Authority to evaluate the impact of this novel policy on active travel, physical activity and inequalities, with the aim of influencing policy and wider adoption.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Ruth Kipping [Email Address Removed]. Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School Faculty of Health Sciences

Co-Supervisors: Professor Russ Jago, Dr Ruth Salway, Dr Kelly Morgan

Research Question:

What impact does the Active Travel Town policy have on inequalities in travel modes and physical activity and how are the changes facilitated?


Physical activity is important for the physical, mental and economic health of the nation, but large proportions of the UK population do not meet physical activity recommendations. Patterns of physical activity are unequal, with women, and people from lower income households being less active. Increasing active travel, such as walking and cycling, has potential as a public health policy to promote routine physical activity and address physical activity inequalities. The Welsh Active Travel Town, led by Welsh Government and TfW, is a novel policy intervention starting in 2023. The Local Authority will receive significant multi-million funding for 4 years to implement a broad range of interventions, with the aim of achieving the greatest possible mode shift in active travel. Welsh Government and TfW have committed to collaborating with University of Bristol to evaluate the initiative with access to a range of existing data sources.


(1) To undertake a systematic review of whole community interventions to improve physical activity. (2) To undertake analysis of travel mode by age, gender and socioeconomic status in the Active Travel Town and a comparator town without the policy intervention before and after the changes implemented by the Active Travel Town programme. The student will have access to a broad range of relevant data sources, such as national surveys, local routine data and potentially specifically-targeted local data collection. The supervisors also have accelerometer equipment which could be used by the student for primary data collection if desired. (3) To explore how the Active Travel Town has facilitated change in travel and physical activity through qualitative interviews in specific groups of interest (e.g. children, working adults, parents, older adults).

This PhD will address inequalities informed by the ‘For Equity’ tool which will guide the thinking during the development throughout. There will be scope for the objectives to be shaped by the student in discussion with the supervisors and Transport for Wales, for example to identify specific groups of interest or focus on a more quantitative approach exploring different methods.

How to apply: 

Please read the full application guidelines before applying. 

This project is part of the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP projects.

Please complete an application to the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP for an ‘offer of funding’. If successful, you will also need to make an application for an 'offer to study' to your chosen institution. 

Please complete the online application form linked from our website by 5.00pm on Wednesday, 1st November 2023. If you are shortlisted for interview, you will be notified from Tuesday 19th December 2023. Interviews will be held virtually on 24th and 25th January 2024. Studentships will start on 1st October 2024. 


For enquiries regarding the application procedures please contact [Email Address Removed]

For enquiries specifically on this project please contact Ruth Kipping ruth.kipping

Computer Science (8) Nursing & Health (27) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded through GW4BioMed2 MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. It consists of UK and International tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24, updated each year).
Additional research training and support funding of up to £5,000 per annum is also available.