Call for applications three PhD Studentships in the ESRC Urban Big Data Centre

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1 Call for applications three PhD Studentships in the ESRC Urban Big Data Centre Urban Studies, School of Social & Political Sciences, University of Glasgow Project titles: PhD 1: Rental housing in times of austerity (Supervisor: Prof. Nick Bailey) PhD 2: School choice and housing markets in urban Scotland (Supervisor: Keith Kintrea) PhD 3: Transport Informatics (Supervisor: Prof. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah) Type of Award: Eligibility: Closing date for applications: Date for interviews: Start date: Institutionally-funded +3 or 1+3 awards Home/EU or International applicants Monday 16 February 2015 at 4pm tbc 1st October 2015 Introduction Applications are invited for three PhD studentships to commence in October The studentships are funded by the University of Glasgow and will be based within the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC). They offer excellent opportunities for outstanding candidates to join a world-leading interdisciplinary research group. The UBDC is an ESRC-funded data service promoting the use of innovative methods and complex urban data to address global city challenges. It also runs a substantial and growing programme of research of its own. The studentships will play an important role in the development of the UBDC s academic mission, conducting original theoretical, empirical and methodological work. While they focus on different topics, they share a common emphasis on developing the exploitation of diverse urban data and quantitative methods to address issues of public or policy relevance. The UBDC is based within the Urban Studies subject, part of the School of Social & Political Sciences. Urban Studies has a global reputation as a research centre for innovative, interdisciplinary urban research, which makes an impact.

2 It is the founding home of the Urban Studies journal (along with Geography) and was ranked joint 1st in the UK out of 44 in the Architecture and Built Environment panel in the latest assessment of academic research quality (the Research Excellence Framework 2014). It has a thriving community of academics and PhD students, and the successful candidates will be encouraged to take part in and contribute to its excellent academic life. There are extensive opportunities for advanced methods training within the University and the students will be encouraged to take advantage of these across the life of the studentships. These include a range of advanced quantitative methods courses run by the College of Social Sciences as part of its doctoral training programme, as well as specialist courses provided by the UBDC itself and others such as the wider Scottish Graduate School. Students will also have some funding to attend external conferences and will be encouraged to build links in wider academic networks. Summary of the PhD projects A brief summary of the topic or subject on which each PhD will focus is provided here. Applicants are asked to indicate how they would intend approaching the topic as part of their application. PhD 1: Rental housing in times of austerity Housing has long played a central role in the UK s overall system of welfare, with the rental sector dominated by a variety of social housing providers who have, in general, provided relatively high quality, low cost, secure housing. This social housing stock has offset some of the negative impacts of Britain s comparatively meagre welfare benefits system, improving welfare outcomes for a large proportion of low-income households. In recent years, however, we have seen a rapid shift in rental housing from social to private sectors, the latter characterised by higher costs, variable standards and insecurity. At the same time, welfare entitlements have been cut, particularly for those of working age. These cuts are expected to continue for several years at least. Many concerns have been raised about the potential consequences of this: for household and community stability; for housing affordability and hence poverty traps or work (dis)incentives; and for housing consumption or quality and hence health, for example. The overall aim of this PhD is to exploit the opportunities created by access to linked administrative datasets in order to shed light on the consequences of these changes in the UK s rental housing system. Methodologically, the PhD will be aiming to use cutting-edge techniques in data linkage and analysis. Particular attention will be paid to causal inference.

3 The specific direction of the research will be determined by the student s interests and by what is learnt about data availability and quality in the initial stages. For example, it may include a focus on issues of: security or stability for households and communities; cost, affordability and access to employment; or quality, home environment and health. PhD 2: School choice and housing markets in urban Scotland Unequal educational outcomes (and hence unequal adult employment outcomes and life chances) are a key concern of social justice, but also relevant to important questions about the competitiveness of national economies. While it has long been recognised that children from less advantaged households have poorer outcomes from school, there has been a more recent interest in place-based dimensions of inequality the tendency for educational outcomes to vary between places. This became explicit in the UK under New Labour, has been continued as a policy theme by the coalition since 2010, and has also recently featured on the Scottish Government s agenda. To some extent the current debate at least in England is about the relative performance of students between different regions. Recent reports about the improvements in London school outcomes have prompted the question why performance is lagging in some other regions, particular other broadly comparable major cities. However, there has also been a growing interest in disparities in educational outcomes at a neighbourhood leve, which only very recently has been identified in Scotland as a policy concern. In its Corporate Plan Education Scotland has highlighted place-based differences in educational outcomes as a key factor in holding Scotland back (Scottish Government, 2014), especially the strong connection between poor schools and poor places. The overall aim of this PhD is to exploit the opportunities created by access to linked administrative datasets in order to shed light to investigate the links between schools and the housing market in West Central Scotland. Methodologically, the PhD will be aiming to use cutting-edge techniques in data linkage and analysis. Particular attention will be paid to causal inference. Specific questions could assess the extent to which neighbourhood choice within urban housing markets is influenced by schools in terms of households seeking neighbourhoods with good schools or avoiding neighbourhoods with poor schools ; making estimates of the price premium paid for good schools, depicting the geography of school-related housing and neighbourhood choice behaviour in West Central Scotland, identifying the household profiles of those making active school related housing market decisions, estimating the impacts on student composition on schools of school-related housing choice behaviour, and drawing out the implications for public policy on school catchment areas, planning for housing, and urban regeneration.

4 PhD 3: Transport Informatics Providing access to high-quality transport services requires a variety of planning and operational innovations, as well as better understanding of travel behaviour, planning and operational processes, and the factors, which affect these issues. The objective of this studentship would be to undertake quantitative research, which demonstrates novel use of urban Big Data to analyse social, organisational or behavioural factors affecting transportation services and their impacts. The major focus of the work will be on methodological innovations demonstrating the use of urban Big Data to improve planning and policy insights in transport. The specific policy topic would be determined by the interests of the student and ongoing work in UBDC. For example, substantive areas of focus could potentially include: (1) using novel sources of Big Data and associated data science methods to analyse social equity, spatial disparities and accessibility for disadvantaged communities, and to draw implications for planning and operations; (2) developing an understanding of the drivers of travel behaviour given emerging information technology solutions and assessing impacts on sustainable and healthy behaviour; (3) developing methodological solutions for dynamic resource management strategies for shared, intermodal, active and public transport, for example, regarding bicycle-sharing, carsharing, volunteer driver services for persons with disabilities, and potentially electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Practical details Studentship award For each studentship, funding is available to provide either a three-year (+3) or a four-year (1+3) award. The former will be provided for a suitable candidate who has completed advanced methods training at Masters level or has equivalent research experience. The latter will be provided for a suitable candidate who has an appropriate first degree only. In both cases, the award will cover fees (Home/EU or International), and provide an annual allowance for research or training expenses ( 750 per year for the three PhD years only) as well as an annual stipend at the standard ESRC rate (for 2015/16, this is 14,002 (tbc)). The stipend will apply for all years of the studentship, including the Masters year if appropriate.

5 Eligibility A demonstrable interest in and aptitude for quantitative methods is a pre-requisite for all three studentships. Applicants for a 1+3 award need a good first degree (2.1. or higher) in the social sciences or another relevant discipline such as statistics. They should be able to demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of quantitative social research methods, as well as the desire and aptitude to develop a high level of expertise in this area. If successful, they would spend their first year undertaking the MRes in Urban Research or in Public Policy Research before embarking on the three years of the PhD. For a +3 award, applicants need to meet the criteria for the 1+3 award and, in addition, should be able to demonstrate that they have successfully completed Masters-level courses in social theory for social scientists and in basic quantitative methods. For the housing and education topics, applicants with strong quantitative skills such as those from statistics who do not have the required training in social theory will be considered; the award of the studentship may be conditional on them successfully completing additional training during their first PhD year. For the transport studentship only, applications will also be considered from those with an engineering or computer science background. Students due to complete a Masters programme prior to October 2015 are encouraged to apply although any award may be contingent on final results. Applicants who can demonstrate excellent research skills obtained through previous employment may also be considered for the +3 award. The studentships do not have any restrictions based on nationality or residency requirements. However, funding is unlikely to permit the appointment of International applicants to all three studentships. If the favoured candidates for all three studentships are International in terms of fee status, it will be necessary to consider fee status in addition to academic and other qualities in making the awards. How to apply The closing date for applications is noted above, with interviews to be held with short-listed candidates on a date to be confirmed; for overseas applicants, interviews are likely to be via Skype or similar. All applicants should attach the following documentation to a single and send to with PhD studentship as the subject: PhD Scholarship Application Form available from ubdc.ac.uk/study-withus/phd-research/ Full academic transcript(s) from previous studies (undergraduate and postgraduate if applicable)

6 Two references on official headed notepaper and signed by referees. References given to candidates in sealed envelopes should be opened, scanned and attached to the . Alternatively, referees can references directly to from an official work address, clearly labelling the reference e.g. PhD studentship Reference for [applicant name] Research proposal: a statement of your initial views about the focus for the PhD, covering the substantive issues and key methodological considerations or challenges, and including a short indicative bibliography (strict word limit 1200 words including bibliography). Any proposal over 1200 words will not be considered. If you wish to apply for more than one studentship, please attach a separate proposal for each. A curriculum vitae (CV) may be included if desired but is not necessary. Please note, all scholarship awards are subject to candidates 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. For general information including suitability of existing research training or other experience, please contact Dr Mhairi Mackenzie, Convenor of the Doctoral Programme in Urban Studies: For specific information on individual PhD topics, please contact the relevant supervisor: PhD 1: Rental housing in times of austerity Prof. Nick Bailey PhD 2: School Choice and Housing Markets in Urban Scotland Keith Kintrea PhD 3: Transport Informatics Prof. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah

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