Summary

In 2013, the Northern Ireland Executive published its first major conflict-transformation strategy, Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC). Quite uniquely amongst an international history of peacebuilding frameworks, T:BUC identified two explicitly material-spatial policy interventions for advancing the creation of shared space and desegregating a number of the region’s most ethnically polarised communities. The first of these was a 10-year programme, commencing in 2013, to reduce and remove Northern Ireland’s ‘interface barriers’, a catch-all term used to describe the wide range of permanent physical barriers that continue to divide many Catholic and Protestant communities. The second, was the development of ten new ‘exemplar shared housing schemes’ with a residential mix evenly balanced between Catholic and Protestant representation.

As T:BUC draws closer to its ten-year anniversary, the results of these initiatives have been mixed. At the time of writing, current statistics state that of the original 59 interface barriers formally targeted for removal, 44 still remain, including all of Belfast’s major peace wall installations. Whilst there has been a successful delivery of the ten shared housing developments, these tend to be physically isolated from existing areas of residential segregation and a number have witnessed sustained campaigns of paramilitary-initiated sectarian intimidation against residents.

These policy initiatives therefore present a unique opportunity for detailed investigation and analysis of live case-studies where the emerging research questions are relevant, timely, and crucially, transferrable to a diverse range of national and international contexts characterised by residential segregation. Whilst T:BUC is fundamentally rooted in social policy, this PhD proposal addresses an important gap-in-knowledge by examining the overlooked role of architectural and planning policy praxis in attempts to foster social and spatial cohesion.

The PhD proposal aims to problematise several contemporary phenomena that will be central to the next phase of peacebuilding policy in Northern Ireland in order to provide an evidence-base that can be used to inform future desegregation policy:

  • Recent research (COYLES, D. 2017a; COYLES, D. 2017b; COYLES, D., HAMBER, B. & GRANT,  A. 2021) has revealed how many permanent physical barriers were put in place by a  confidential process of governmental security planning between 1977 and 1985.  These barriers are not widely recognised or on the register of interfaces  targeted for removal by government.

What are the implications of these barriers on future policy plans for community integration?

  • The major peace  installations in Belfast and Derry remain firmly in place and have become  established as core visitor attractions that make significant contributions to  the tourist economy.

What are the socio-economic implications for the future of the peace walls?

  • The delivery of shared  housing does not feature prominently within the 2021 Programme for  Government Draft Outcomes Framework consultation document issued by the  Northern Ireland Executive.

What lessons can be learned from the major public residential desegregation initiatives established in other international contexts, such as the United States, Israel and South Africa?


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,840 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


Recommended reading

BELFAST INTERFACE PROJECT 2011. Belfast Interfaces: Security Barriers and Defensive Use of Space, Belfast, Belfast Interface Project.

BELFAST INTERFACE PROJECT 2017. Interface Barriers, Peacelines and Defensive Architecture, Belfast, Belfast Interface Project.

BELFAST INTERFACE PROJECT 2018. Reflected Lives: Intergenerational oral histories of Belfast’s peace wall communities, Belfast, Belfast Interface Project.

BERESKIN, E. 2015. Infrastructures of Partition, Infrastructures of Juncture: Separation Barriers and Intercommunal Contact in Belfast and Nicosia. New Diversities, 17, 35-58.

COYLES, D. 2017a. Journeys through the Hidden City: Giving visibility to the Material Events of conflict in Belfast. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35, 1053-1075.

COYLES, D. 2017b. The security-threat-community. City, 21, 699-723.

COYLES, D., HAMBER, B. & GRANT, A. 2018. Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecture: The Case of Belfast. Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series 17/18. Belfast: Northern Ireland Assembly.

COYLES, D. & MULHOLLAND, C. 2021. Divided Architectures: Hidden Infrastructures of Separation and Cohesion. In: YAPICIOGLU BALKIZ & LALENIS KONSTANTINOS (eds.) Boundaries and Restricted Places: The Immured Space. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

CROOKE, E. & MAGUIRE, T. (eds.) 2018. Heritage after Conflict. Northern Ireland., London: Routledge.

DEPARTMENT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 2013a. Facing the Future: Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland, 2012-17. Belfast: Department for Social Development.

DEPARTMENT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 2013b. Urban Regeneration and Community Development Policy Framework Belfast, Department for Social Development.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 2012. Building Safer, Shared and Confident Communities: A Community Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland 2012-2017, Belfast, Department of Justice.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. 2018. Department of Justice Interface Programme [Online]. Available: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/articles/department-justice-interface-programme.

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT 2015. Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland (SPPS): Planning for Sustainable Development, Belfast, Department of the Environment.

LLOYD, G. & RAFFERTY, G. 2013. Creating a constructive interface between community planning and land use (spatial) planning. Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series 13/14. Belfast: Northern Ireland Assembly.

NORTHERN IRELAND HOUSING EXECUTIVE 2015. The Housing Executive’s Community Cohesion Strategy 2015-2020, Belfast, Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

RAFFERTY, G. 2012. Embracing the creation of shared space: considering the potential intersection between community planning and peace-building. Space and Polity, 16, 197-213.

THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE 2013. Together: Building a United Community, Belfast, The Executive Office.

WEIZMAN, E. 2012. Hollow land: Israel's architecture of occupation, London, Verso.

WYLIE, D. & COYLES, D. 2018. Housing Plans For The Future, Gottingen Germany, Steidl Verlag.


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

I had an interesting time at Ulster University, Jordanstown. Many thanks to all the lecturers, library staff and research school for their time and effort getting me through my PhD!

Philip Bradley - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My primary research interests focus on sustainable construction materials for the delivery of environmentally responsible building and infrastructure systems. Within that field, I am particularly interested in the combination of geopolymer binders and recycled aggregates as construction materials with a balance among technical, environmental and economic factors.I would like to express my appreciation to my supervisors and the technicians/staffs at School of Built Environment, for their consistent support, valuable feedback, attention to details, patience and encouragement during my PhD course.

An Huynh - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

This journey is quite a challenge for me. I am proud of me finally getting through my PhD. And I’ll never forget the valuable memories that Ulster University has given me, the people, the beautiful sceneries, the happiness, the language improvement, and the hard work. ​​I would like to express my sincere thank you to my supervisors, my colleagues, my friends and my family. I couldn't have got through my PhD without your help and support. I know that you will continue to pay attention to my growth path in the future and be happy with my achievements. So, I’ll take all the knowledge I have learned and keep on working for a better future.​

Shurui Wang - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My proudest moment was when I was accepted to pursue my PhD in Ulster University. My favourite memory was how I met my group of friends who also pursue their dreams in this foreign country. I'll never forget the tough times I underwent during my study, but thanks to those times that I finally managed to lose weight. I couldn't have got through this without my supervisors' support, kind encouragement and firmest trust. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be - do not procrastinate, you gotta learn to move forward in life when you feel stuck.

Mengmeng Dou - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I came to Ulster University to challenge myself with a PhD study under Vice-Chancellor's Research Studentship at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning. My supervisors helped me much from giving valuable guidance to supporting any difficulties, which makes me feel that I am the luckiest student.I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisors, family, friends and colleagues for supporting me tirelessly. Without you, I couldn't have got through my PhD with some great achievements:Best PhD Research Paper in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Ulster UniversityBest Student Paper Award at the conference of World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2017, San Francisco, USA.Student Registration Grant for demonstrating academic excellence in research at 17th International Conference on Sustainable Technologies (SET 2018), China.

Khoa Xuan Le - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My academic background includes a MSc in Process Safety Technology, in which my topic of thesis involved the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This prompted me to further my knowledge in this field by embarking on a PhD at the HySAFER institute at Ulster University. Here, I conducted research on the consequences of stored hydrogen tank rupture in confined space, with the use of computational fluid dynamics.My proudest moment in all of this was informing my parents, not only for being accepted as a PhD researcher at Ulster University, but also after three years that it was indeed completed. It goes without saying that without the guidance and support from my supervisors, the companionship created by my fellow colleagues with whom I shared an office with, and the people otherwise encountered and befriended during this period, the light at the end of the tunnel of it all would have rather been a train. And for that, I will be forever grateful and all the attained memories preserved

Wulme Dery - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I worked for 35 years for the Housing Executive - latterly as its Head of Research. I had completed an MSc in Urban Policy in the 2000s - and it had been a longstanding ambition of mine to complete a PhD that brought together a number of strands of policy-related research that had been of particular interest to me. Undertaking a PhD at Ulster University allowed me to fulfil this ambition in an enjoyable manner.Completing my PhD has brought me an immense amount of personal satisfaction. A major part of this was down to the incredible support I received from my two supervisors Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr Michael McCord. Their ongoing advice, encouragement and support helped take me outside my comfort zone and played a major part in my achievement. Even my viva proved to be an enjoyable experience and enabled me to feel that I had gained a level of expertise in a sphere that could make a small but significant contribution to addressing some of the key housing issues facing policy

Joe Frey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a senior researcher at Korea Fire Institute which is a state-owned company specialised at fire safety engineering in the Republic of Korea. I obtained BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering. Prior to enter a PhD course at the School of the Built Environment in Ulster University, I worked for over a decade in the engineering industry. With relation to my PhD topic, my current research field is on fire safety using experimental and numerical approaches.Finally, I finished my study in Ulster University and became a Doctor of Philosophy in a field of fire safety!! There were a lot of good memories at Ulster University. I will never forget the rainbow on the Jordanstown campus which helps me to relieve my stress caused by stuck in concrete damaged plasticity theory. I felt great when receiving an annual PhD conference award as the best poster. I was excited to spent time with my officemates, Rumeel, and Emmanuel. I love every moment at Room 4B01 because it was a time to enhance my

Ohk Kun Lim - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a Swiss citizen, grew up in Papua New Guinea and graduated from Ukarumpa International Schools. I was trained and certified as a Swiss cabinetmaker and hold a Swiss diploma in electrical engineering from the Bern University of applied Science. In the past ten years I have been employed at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and have performed research in the field of energy conversion and storage. Research activities include; Alkali water electrolysis, metal hydride hydrogen storage, PEM fuel cell and stack development, catalytic oxidation of hydrogen for high temperature heat (cooking), energy systems for autarky living and liquid sorption heat storage. I lead the subtask Components and Systems of the IEA, SHC Program, Task 58 ‘Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage’ and have performed a part time external PhD at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in the development of a heat and mass

Benjamin Fumey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I studied my Integrated Masters (MSci) at Jordanstown from 2008-2012. After a few years working as an Estate Agent, I went back to academia to complete my PhD, looking at the broad area of health within the field of planning.Many PhDs are given a topic to begin with, however when I applied for the PhD scholarship I had to create my own research topic. This took me a while to establish, but eventually my hard work paid off and I narrowed my research into an area I am truly proud of - Active living, how the built environment can influence physical activity and how this was interpreted in the domains listed in my thesis title. My favourite aspect of the PhD was presenting my research and getting the acknowledgment from other academics that my research was interesting, robust and well thought out. I submitted an abstract to AESOP, an annual planning conference, and was given the opportunity to present my work in Venice. I also presented my work to the president of RTPI. There is nothing

Owen Hawe - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning