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PhD Studentships: REGIONAL FUTURES (REGFUT): Territorial politics of digitalisation-as-urbanisation in the global south

   Department of Geography

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  Prof Ayona Datta  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

University College London (UCL) is one of the world's top universities. Based in the heart of London, it is a dynamic, outward-looking institution. At its establishment in 1826, UCL was radical and responsive to the needs of society, and this ethos – that excellence should go hand-in-hand with enriching society – continues today.

The UCL Department of Geography is a leading UK and global department, with a heritage of excellence in research across a broad range of research themes.

The Regional Futures project

UCL Geography invites applicants to a funded studentship as part of a research team led by Professor Ayona Datta, who is working on a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant funded project, Regional Futures: Territorial politics of digitalisation-as-urbanisation in the global south. Professor Datta will act as principal supervisor on this studentship.

The project conducts research on regional futures in the global south along three thematic foci: digitalising state, information infrastructures and territorial politics. The main aim is to examine how the information revolution in the global south is both a product and producer of regional urbanisation.

The project conducts research in the metropolitan peripheries of Mumbai, Nairobi and Guadalajara, and the studentship is expected to work on one of these sites focusing on at least one of the thematic foci. The research will provide an opportunity to understand how digitalisation of governance in the metropolitan peripheries drives a territorial politics of regional urbanisation. It will contribute to conceptual linkages across urban, regional and digital geographies in rethinking the dynamics of regional futures in the global south. Fluency in speaking and reading documents in local languages relevant to the research context is highly desirable.

Further details about the project can be found at

The student appointed will work closely with Professor Datta and the research team to design a PhD level research project within the scope of the grant, which will include at least one metropolitan periphery (Mumbai, Nairobi or Guadalajara) and at least one thematic focus (digitalising state, information infrastructures or territorial politics). This is an interdisciplinary project which will allow students to develop skills at the intersection of several disciplines and global south contexts. They will be expected to work together as part of the project team and contribute to the project activities (workshops and team meetings) with other team members. They will be expected to undertake original research online and conduct in-person fieldwork which will include sustaining regular interactions across the team. They will also contribute to collection and analysis of data for the project in collaboration with other relevant team members. They will also have the opportunity to contribute to the dissemination of findings in appropriate academic and stakeholder settings and to attend regular departmental, faculty and UCL-wide research and teaching seminars, and will be supported by transdisciplinary collaboration in Urban Studies within and outside UCL. In UCL Geography, the student will be part of the Global Urbanisms research cluster and will be based at UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.

Additional funding information

See funding notes.

There is a travel budget within the funding grant which will be available to support the cost of fieldwork attached to the studentship.

Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply but please note that the difference between home and overseas fees will need to be found from another funding source by the student.

Please note that since this studentship is part of an ERC funded research project, any changes to the PhD research design that positions it beyond the scope of the ERC project, will not be possible. The student is expected to work closely with Professor Datta and the research team at all times to ensure that their research aligns with the wider aims and objectives of the project.

Eligibility and Application Process

You must have a Master’s degree (or be nearing completion) (minimum 2.1 or equivalent) in urban/regional studies, or digital geography, including research training in qualitative methods. You must have completed a research-based component (e.g. dissertation) as part of graduate studies to date. You should have knowledge of, and experience working with social sciences research methods, including archival searches, in-depth interviews, compiling case studies, undertaking discourse and document analysis. Experience of using innovative research methods including participatory digital and visual methods are particularly welcome. We are seeking applicants who have knowledge and experience of research and working in global south contexts in at least one of the three countries – India, Kenya, Mexico. Candidates with language skills relevant to these contexts are especially encouraged to apply.

You will need to meet the English language proficiency demonstration or relevant exemption as per usual UCL PhD entry requirements:

UCL aims to acknowledge, understand, and tackle structural inequities and unjust social power imbalances that affect our communities across the institution. We very strongly encourage applicants from backgrounds that are underrepresented in academia, and aim to create a research environment that tackles relative, typically unspoken and unacknowledged privilege.

Application process

If you wish to apply for this opportunity please read the instructions and guidance given below and make a formal UCL application through the UCL Admissions portal to the programme ‘Research Degree: Human Geography, full-time’, which has the programme code RRDGEOSHUM01.

Further information on the UCL application process is also available for guidance. Further information about Postgraduate Research in Geography at UCL can be found here:

See website for full application process and requirements.

For academic queries and clarifications regarding the studentship, please contact Professor Ayona Datta [Email Address Removed]

For queries regarding the application process, please contact: [Email Address Removed] marked ‘ERC REGFUT: for the attention of Dr. Rebekah Mann’ in the subject line of the email. 

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 31st August 2022 5pm GMT. Interviews are expected to take place soon after 21st September 2022.

The earliest starting date of all 3 studentships will be 9th January 2023.

Funding Notes

Funding is available for 3 years for full-time students; this studentship cannot be undertaken part-time due to the duration of the funding grant. The studentships offer a stipend above the UKRI minimum, linked to Wellcome Trust rates this is currently £22,278 per annum with scheduled increases in the second and third year. Fees are not included in this award; the higher stipend rate is paid to allow the student to cover fees directly from their stipend at the Home level.
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