Socio-economic, religious and spatial inequalities in healthy ageing and cognitive health


   School of Natural and Built Environment

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  Prof G Catney  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The design of the urban environment, noise pollution and air pollution are each hypothesised to negatively impact on cognitive health and healthy ageing. For example, high-density environments are associated with potentially harmful levels of traffic and noise pollution, yet paradoxically these same environments might increase scope for social connections, which are good for cognitive health. This PhD project aims to adopt a holistic approach to understanding inequalities in opportunities for healthy ageing in Northern Ireland. The successful applicant will have access to the Northern Ireland Cohort of Longitudinal Ageing (NICOLA) cohort data (Waves 1 and 2, including a suite of individual level demographic, social, economic and health data), alongside linked spatial environment data (including Geographic Information System (GIS) data, remote sensing and soil tracer data, modelled air and noise pollution data). They will use these to explore socio-economic inequalities in experiences of the urban environment (residential environment and daily mobilities), how these inequalities might vary by religion/community background, and their geographies. An additional Covid-19 NICOLA questionnaire will allow for detailed analyses of the ways in which these inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic and associated lockdowns. The successful applicant will form part of the SPACE (Supportive environments for Physical and social Activity, healthy ageing and CognitivE health) project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge. The programme of research is focused on investigating the impact of the urban environment on cognitive health in older adults in Northern Ireland. A team of researchers work on the project from across the University. The PhD project will be undertaken in the School of Natural and Built Environment, linked to the Centre for GIS and Geomatics, with supervision by Dr Gemma Catney (Geography), Professor Jennifer McKinley (Geography) and Dr Ruth Hunter (Centre for Public Health). The PhD scholarship offers the opportunity to work with the broader multi-disciplinary project team. Applicants will normally have a 2.1 hons or higher in Geography, Public Health or other relevant disciplines in the Social and Health Sciences. Strong quantitative skills are required.

Application Procedure

Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 'Geography' at Queen's University Belfast, School of Natural and Built Environment.

State name of lead supervisor on Application (Dr Gemma Catney).

Include the intended SOURCE OF FUNDING on application form as 'DfE'

To apply, visit https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php (links to the QUB Direct Application Portal).

Research Proposal

Applicants should use the 'Research Proposal' section on the QUB application form to provide a 500-word (max) discussion of the project description outlining:

An understanding of the proposed research question(s) aims and objectives

The broader context of the research and its relevance to Social Science and Public Health

A methodological approach to the work

Options for analysis of the data gathered


Geography (17)
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 About the Project