PhD Scholarship, University of Glasgow, Creating well-designed places in Scotland: What does it take?

Project Title: Creating well-designed places in Scotland: What does it take?
The aim of this collaborative studentship is to identify the barriers to good urban design and
assess the effectiveness of the local planning system to enhance development quality.
Research indicates that well-designed places support economic development, foster social
interaction, and improve people’s health and wellbeing. Yet, the quality of many new places is
poor and uninspiring buildings and public spaces that ‘could be anywhere’ prevail.
Working in collaboration with West Dunbartonshire Council, a local authority that has recently made a
strategic investment in urban design review and established a Place and Design Panel, the
studentship will examine what it takes to deliver well-designed places in Scotland.
West Dunbartonshire’s Place and Design Panel will be the empirical focus of the studentship. It
will be used as a vehicle to understand the barriers to delivering well-designed places, and as
a basis for assessing the effectiveness of the planning system to control design outcomes and
achieve local and national design objectives.
The successful candidate will be use a range of qualitative data collection tools to analyse the urban design decision-making process, including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, document collection and structured ethnographic
observations, and will also undertake a part-time internship at West Dunbartonshire Council as part of their PhD research process.
The studentship will be based in Urban Studies within the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Urban Studies is a leading centre of urban planning, design, housing and public policy research (ranked joint first in the UK in REF 2014).
The successful candidate will work closely with a supervision team led by Dr James White (Lecturer in Urban
Design) and supported by Dr Rebecca Madgin (Senior Lecturer in Urban Development and
Management) and Dr Sharon Wright (Senior Lecturer in Public Policy).
The successful candidate will also have opportunities throughout the PhD to work alongside professional
planning and design staff at West Dunbartonshire Council where they will be mentored by Pamela Clifford (Planning Services Manager).
The originality of this studentship lies in its simultaneous engagement with national planning objectives for design and the delivery of those objectives at the local level. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will develop an empirically-driven understanding of the process of governing urban design through the planning system, and the factors that
influence how design priorities are weighed against other concerns.
The PhD Project will be Lead-Supervised by Dr James White in the School of Social and Political Sciences.
Eligibility: Home/EU applicants are eligible to apply.
ESRC Eligibility Checker Tool
First or Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) or a Master's qualification or equivalent are required
The Award
The scholarship is open for 1+3 (1 year Masters followed by 3 year PhD), or +3 (3 years PhD only) commencing in October 2018 and depending on your eligibility for a full award (see ESRC Eligibility information and Checker Tool above), will provide:
• a stipend at the RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £14,777 full-time / £8,866.20 part time)
• 100 % tuition fee waiver
• a Research Training Support Grant of £750 (£450 part-time) per annum
If a fees only award is granted (see ESRC Eligibility information and Checker Tool above), this will provide a 100% tuition fee waiver only.
How to Apply
All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation then attach to a single email and send to with the subject line 'Creating well-designed spaces in Scotland Scholarship application' by 08 April 2018.
1. Academic Transcript(s) and Degree Certificate(s)
Final or current degree transcripts including grades and degree certificates (and official
translations, if needed) - scanned copy in colour of the original documents.
2. References
Two references on headed paper (academic and/or professional). At least one reference must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee.
If your referees would prefer to provide confidential references direct to the University then we can also accept the reference by email, from the referee's official university or business email account to clearly labelling the reference e.g. “<applicant name> ESRC-Collaborative Creating well-designed spaces in Scotland Scholarship Reference”
3. Copy of CV
4. Applicant Statement
A brief statement outlining interest in, and suitability to undertake this research (500 words
5. Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership Equal Opportunities Form
6. Copy of the ESRC Eligibility Checker Tool outcome
Any application which fails to meet the above requirements will not be considered.
For further information or details about the Project: contact Dr James White (
Selection Process
  • Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview.
  • All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the College of Social Sciences.
  • Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.