Closing date: 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

Context and Rationale:

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.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Begin your postgraduate research journey at Swansea University: a top 30 research university (REF 2014) producing internationally recognised research that makes a real difference to society. We provide a welcoming environment for PhD researchers with specialist training, advice and development opportunities. As an ESRC Wales DTP researcher, you will also benefit from cohort-based networking events and dedicated ESRC Wales DTP student representatives at each campus.


These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named supervisor and / or the Swansea pathway contact for a discussion prior to applying. They are:


For more details please see here:

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

The application must contain the following documents and be submitted to [email protected]:

  1. Covering letter: Please address to Dr Angharad Closs Stephens. The covering letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Swansea University, and the chosen pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please specify whether you wish to apply on a ‘+3’ or ‘1+3’ basis. Remember also to specify that your application concerns ESRC Wales DTP collaborative studentships and include in your application the title of the project to which you are applying.
  2. Academic / professional qualifications: Please provide copies of certificates and transcripts. Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
  3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves, and submit the references with their application.
  4. Curriculum Vitae: It should be no longer than two pages.
  5. Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1,000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
  • Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
  • An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
  • Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
  • A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
  • Bibliographic references.

Please note that incomplete applications or applications received after the specified time will not be accepted.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on 3 February 2020.

Informal enquiries about these studentships are welcome, and should be directed to Dr Angharad Closs Stephens ([email protected]).

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview; interviews are expected to take place in March 2020. After interview, a final shortlist of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases, successful applicants can expect to hear by mid-April 2020.

Entry Requirements

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.

Funding Notes

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).

Funding Information

Funding applies to:

The studentship provides the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend.

Application Deadline:

3 February 2020

Please see our website for how to apply:
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