Funded PhD Opportunity Regeneration and Resilience: Practical Solutions to Real World Problems

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning


A growing body of research argues that approaches to regeneration practice which do not acknowledge a place’s resilience to change will fail to set that place on a more sustainable trajectory (McElduff et al. 2016; Walker and Salt 2007). Originally interpreted as the ability to ‘bounce back’ (Holling 1973), the concept has evolved to encompass an evolutionary perspective (Davoudi 2012). The latter emphasises the interdependencies between social and ecological systems and the need to embed foresight, robustness and adaptability into place-making and planning activities (Coafee and Lee 2016). This presents a powerful critique of traditional approaches of sustainable resource management which tended to advocate an equilibrium state based on an expectation of incremental growth. ‘Building’ resilience is a dynamic challenge and raises questions around how to design, manage, and implement interventions, at what scale, and with what resources. In regards to urban regeneration, resilience thinking advocates (for example) a focus on sustainable and equitable resource use; collaborative and partnership working across disciplines and governance scales; a greater focus on community well-being; enhancing the relationship between people and place; and enabling rich forms of leadership. However, there is an evident gap in relation to reconciling resilience thinking with place-specific processes and challenges. It follows that perspectives, components and values of resilience must be more clearly articulated and translated into operational tools.

This doctoral project critically explores the complementary and co-influencing concepts of regeneration and resilience using national and international case studies. Such case studies may encapsulate differing approaches to regeneration (e.g. heritage-led, tourism-led, and community-led) and expressions of resilience. Consequently, the project is focused on identifying, analysing and responding to ‘wicked problems’ – and opportunities – associated with real-world regeneration practice. Therefore, the expectation is that this project will be applied within a contemporary context. This includes, for example, post-disaster recovery; local service delivery (community planning in Northern Ireland); or enabling governance structures including the relationship between coterminous functions within local government such as building control and statutory planning.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
12 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Neale Blair

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #237901 when applying for this PhD opportunity