ESRC DTP Collaborative Studentship: The Contemporary Rural Gentry and Processes of Rural Gentrification in England and Scotland

Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership

University of Leicester and James Hutton Institute

The Midlands Graduate School is an accredited Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). One of 14 such partnerships in the UK, the Midlands Graduate School is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, Aston University, University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University of Nottingham.

The University of Leicester as part of Midlands Graduate School is now inviting applications for an ESRC Doctoral Studentship in association with our collaborative partner the James Hutton Institute to commence in October 2018.

The student will work under the supervision of Professor Martin Phillips (University of Leicester), Professor Philip Lindley (Loughborough University) and Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland (James Hutton Institute) to study transformations in land-ownership dynamics and their impacts on processes of rural gentrification in England and Scotland. 

Gentrification has clear connections to landownership, being coined to draw parallels between contemporary processes of physical and social change and practices of wealth accumulation and social display outlined in historical studies of the landed rural gentry. Subsequent studies have demonstrated how landowners play an important role within contemporary processes of rural gentrification, facilitating, or preventing, the release of properties and land for conversion and development. New dynamics in landownership and gentrification are, however, potentially emerging. The 'financialisation' of land and housing, for example, may encourage land retention and land accumulation (or land-grabbing), or, conversely, land-release for housing and other forms of gentrified development. Rural land use may also be gentrifying as existing users diversify to take advantage of emergent middle-class tastes and through the arrival of new entrants to rural land ownership, who having accumulated wealth and expertise in lives beyond the rural are now purchasing and investing in rural land.

The emergence of new actors and dynamics has resulted in a range of new or exacerbated impacts, including land price inflation, rising absentee landlordism, rising rental levels and the eviction of tenant farmers. More positive impacts have also been identified, including heightened levels of economic investment; infusions of new skills, practices and values; and the production, in some cases, of more ecologically diverse rural landscapes.

The student will investigate changes in landownership and how they connect to processes of rural gentrification through case studies in England and Scotland. They will explore the impacts of these changes and assess their novelty through comparisons with earlier transitions in landownership associated with the rural gentry in England and Scotland. The research will involve a mixture of archival research, workshops, in-depth interviews and surveys.

Further details of the academic content of this studentship can be found here on the full-length version of the advertisement.

Application Process

To be considered for this PhD, please complete the Collaborative Studentship application form available online here, a cover letter, CV, and email the documents to

Application Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018, 9.00am

Anticipated interview date: 29th March

Midlands Graduate School ESRC DTP

Our ESRC studentships cover fees and maintenance stipend and extensive support for research training, as well as research activity support grants. Support is available only to successful applicants who fulfil eligibility criteria. To check your eligibility, visit:

Informal enquiries about the research or the School of Geography, Geology, and the Environment prior to application can be directed to Martin Phillips

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Midlands of England