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Funded PhD Opportunity

Urban universities as catalysts for public-private regeneration strategies to benefit more liveable and healthy inner-city communities

Subject: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning


Summary

This PhD examines the role and influence of large-scale academic and civic-led urban regeneration projects on wider socio-economic and environmental qualities associated with liveable, healthy, and sustainable inner-city communities. It focuses on Belfast’s Inner-North area as an internationally relevant case study. Concurrent public and private development projects are set to transform the entirety of the neighbourhoods surrounding and led-by Ulster University’s £250 million campus expansion, due to open by 2023. The relevance of and urgency to evaluate Ulster’s expansion can be seen through competing visions for how such investment should impact on immediate and future development proposals that are driven by local, institutional, and government level planning proposals and funding.

Currently, no holistic development approach to decision-making exists. Multiple private-led projects are under construction on vacant or underused sites around the University campus, including multiple student housing projects m eant to be secondary to higher employment uses (Belfast City Council, BCC). Two mixed-use commercial-residential developments in planning and building stages cover over 50 acres of surrounding neighbourhoods. Such unprecedented levels of what is termed comprehensive regeneration puts conservation areas and heritage buildings under pressure for redevelopment.

Together with +-£200 million of government-led roads/public-realm infrastructure projects, and a £350 million UK-funded Belfast Region City Deal for technology, transport, tourism, and creative sectors over the next 15 years, there is over £1 billion of current/future investment in Inner-North and wider City neighbourhoods. These investments are claimed as mechanisms for a culturally and economically vibrant city centre with improved environmental and living qualities for both existing communities and tens of thousands of new residents by 2035.

This three-year PhD thus seeks trace and evaluate the collective impact of dynamic and differing proposals on local social, economic, and physical factors over time. Applicants should be comfortable applying cross-disciplinary built environment, public health and social sciences methodologies to collect and connect primary data on base-line and changing KPIs associated with liveable, healthy and resilient communities. The focus area surrounding Ulster University’s Belfast campus will be the means to contribute original and widely relevant conclusions about whether the presence and knowledge-base of urban universities can, if properly directed, help influence beneficial impacts on immediate city environments and communities.

To effectively engage a wide relevant stakeholder pool, the research will build upon existing academic-government-community relations processes (e.g., the Community Campus Regeneration Forum) that have evolved between Ulster, BCC, Department for Communities, and statutory/third-sector organisations, with residents and businesses.

Project outcomes will evaluate and visualise primary evidence together with Big Data from Government and other sources through geo-spatial and psycho-social analytical tools (e.g., surveys and socio-spatial narrative methods including workshops and interviews) underpinned by policy and field-based data, and best-practice studies.

Finally digital mapping tools will be applied to create a virtual GIS-linked 3D model to deliver the research findings as active, live guides for local decision-making; to extrapolate local lessons for regional, national, and international relevance; and as the basis to track investment and liveability impacts beyond the life of the PhD research.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for 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 £15,000 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.

    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 £7,500 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.

    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.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    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 fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. 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.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
Week beginning 9 March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Saul Golden


Other supervisors

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