Human Geography: ESRC Wales DTP PhD Collaborative Studentship at Swansea: Urban-Economic Development

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 3 February 2020

Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2020. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Human Geography pathway of the Wales DTP:
‘Urban-Economic Development, Urban Density, and Purpose Built Student Housing’ (working title), in collaboration with Coastal Housing Group
This project is unique in placing a student in Swansea at the moment when approximately 2,000 new private, student housing units are expected to come on line between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years. In the last several years debates about the relationship between universities and urban-economic development have broadened (see Addie, et al. 2015, Bose 2015), moving beyond questions of knowledge transfer, innovation systems, and related policy making (cf. Huggins, et al. 2008), and toward the emergence of what some now call “university urbanism” (Addie 2019). One strand of this research relates to concentrations of student housing in UK cities, or “studentification”, the effects of which are vigorously debated (Smith, et al. 2014, Smith & Hubbard 2014, Hubbard 2009, Chatterton 2010). Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) especially of the high-rise type are thought to further isolate and segregate students in highly commodified ‘ghettos’, which may encourage them to ignore other parts of the city (Smith & Hubbard 2014). This links to debates over the effects of intensifying urban density and emergent ‘verticality’ of cities across the globe (Graham 2016, McFarlane 2016). Combined with university students’ inherently transitory nature, it also raises questions about the likelihood of PBSAs contributing to the sustainable economic growth that the Swansea Council is depending on.
Aims and Research Questions:
The aim is to investigate urban economic development by analysing the motivations for, and consequences of the sudden increase in PBSA developments in the Swansea city centre.
Potential research questions:
  • How do PBSA developments fit within the broader economic development strategies of the city and city-region? How were these developments supported and resisted, and why?
  • How is the increasing density and verticality of student housing impacting the retail and cultural fabric of Swansea city centre?
  • What do these developments tell us about the changing nature of, and relationships between cities and universities in Wales, the U.K., and further afield?

The study will rely on a set of mixed methods, but the primary data source will be in-depth interviews with the various parties mentioned in the collaboration section (see also Letter of Support). In addition to developing expertise in urban theories related to housing and regeneration, the student will gain experience in networking, interviewing, qualitative data analysis, as well as more practical skills related to economic development and housing policy analysis.
Swansea University
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Swansea University

Swansea, is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea in Wales.

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Residential eligibility:
Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. You must:
  • be ordinarily resident in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long you can stay, and
  • have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences), and
  • not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education).

Due to funding restrictions, these scholarships are not open to international candidates.
Academic eligibility:
ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master's degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award.
Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent part-time job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.


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The studentship provides the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 per annum for 2019/20 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, oversea institutional visits and other small grants.

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Master's in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent).


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