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Urban planning responses to climate change adaptation in Pacific cities (Funded by the QUEX Institute)

   The Graduate School

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  Dr Sonia Roitman  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Brisbane Australia Climate Science Urban Planning

About the Project

Join a world-leading, cross-continental research team

The University of Exeter and the University of Queensland are seeking exceptional students to join a world-leading, cross-continental research team tackling major challenges facing the world’s population in global sustainability and wellbeing as part of the QUEX Institute. The joint PhD program provides a fantastic opportunity for the most talented doctoral students to work closely with world-class research groups and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions, with a lead supervisor within each university. This prestigious programme provides full tuition fees, stipend, travel funds and research training support grants to the successful applicants. The studentship provides funding for up to 42 months (3.5 years).

Eight generous, fully-funded studentships are available for the best applicants, four offered by the University of Exeter and four by the University of Queensland. This select group will spend at least one year at each University and will graduate with a joint degree from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland.

Project Description

Pacific islands are exposed to severe natural disasters and climate change effects, including sea level rise and cyclones, that disrupt urban lives and urban infrastructure. Simultaneously urbanization continue to rise which leads to an increase of the urban population living in informal settlements and facing high vulnerability. For example, in Fiji, 20% of the urban residents live in informal settlements, whereas in Port Vila (Vanuatu) 30% of the population lives in informal settlements (UN-Habitat, 2020; ADB, 2016). Urban planning, as a practice that aims to improve people's lives through the provision of good quality infrastructure, resources and housing, has a key role to play in urban adaptation, as acknowledged by SDG11 as part of the UN's New Urban Agenda (UN, 2016; Caprotti et al., 2017). However, it is not clear how urban planning contributes to addressing climate change effects in urban areas. 

The project aims to examine disaster management and climate change adaptation in Pacific island cities through the lens of urban planning. The main research question is: How does urban planning contribute to addressing climate change adaptation in cities in the Pacific Island Countries? The project analyses the intersection between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities) and SDG13 (climate change) to examine how cities in the Pacific islands are adapting to climate change to become more resilient and sustainable. Urban planning is considered as encompassing policies, programmes, projects and practices and tools developed towards improving the built environment and urban residents and quality of life. 

The project is innovative in four ways:

  1. It examines the role of urban planning in a context of increasing urbanisation in the Pacific. This is a new phenomenon that has not received considerable academic attention and the role of urban planning as a practice has not been fully discussed. 
  2. It combines the theoretical analysis of urbanisation and Southern urban planning theory with climate change adaption in the Pacific. 
  3. The analysis of urban planning policies, programmes, projects and practices towards climate change adaptation will provide evidence on areas of success and failure and will provide policy recommendations. 
  4. Tools to respond to climate change adaptation in cities will be discussed, especially IT tools (i.e. phone apps) that will open a discussion on smart responses for disaster planning.

More detailed information on this project can be found here.


In addition to the above criteria, this scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia at the time of application. International applicants outside of Australia are able to apply but must onshore at The University of Queensland at the time of their commencement, or if Australia's borders are still closed an Exeter commencement may be considered.

Find out more about the QUEX Joint PhD Scholarship at our website.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 24 May 2021 (BST), with interviews taking place week commencing 12 July 2021.

Funding Notes

This scholarship includes a living stipend of AUD $28,597 (2021) tax free, indexed annually, tuition fees and Overseas Student Health Cover (where applicable). A travel grant of AUD $8,500 per annum, and a training grant of AUD $3,000 are also available over the program.
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