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Measuring the social life of the city

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This PhD is advertised by Urban Studies, one of the UK’s leading hubs for research on planning, housing and the built environment. Researchers working at the Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and the Urban Big Data Centre, two major RCUK investments located within Urban Studies, will supervise this doctoral project. The project will also sit alongside an ESRC-funded research project on retail innovation and the high street, Real Estate, Place Adaptation & Innovation within an integrated Retailing system (REPAIR).

Research indicates that attractive places which are easily navigated by pedestrians, and where buildings and public spaces sit together harmoniously, support economic development, foster social interaction, and improve people’s health and well-being. The Avenues Project in the Scottish city of Glasgow is a £115 million investment that aims to make “the city more attractive, "people-friendly", and economically competitive” through major improvements to infrastructure that will increase pedestrian/cycle space, improve lighting, reduce street clutter, and introduce trees on city centre streets. The PhD research will focus on the implementation and impact of this project.

Robust evaluation and measurement of such public realm interventions is currently limited due to a lack of available data and methods. Recent advances in Big Data offer new opportunities to conduct research on new infrastructure in an innovative way alongside traditional qualitative research methods. The PhD will therefore adopt a mixed methods approach to develop an evidence base that identifies whether such investments enhance the social life of the city.

It is anticipated that the research will lead to an empirically-driven understanding of the impact that major public realm investments have on the social life of cities. In so doing, the studentship will reveal new information on the behaviours of pedestrians and cyclists informing not only the future phases of Glasgow’s Avenues Project but also wider discourses in the literature on transformative public space in the city.

Funding Notes

The scholarship is open to +3 (3 years PhD only) and will provide:
• A stipend indexed to the RCUK rate
• 100% Tuition Fee Waiver at the standard Home/EU or International rate
• Research Training Support Grant of up to £2,250 over 3 years.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component.
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of urban planning and design, sustainable transportation, and the geography of the city.
• Have a good grounding in qualitative and quantitative data collection tools and analysis.

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