PhD Studentship: West Midlands Landscape and Infrastructure

Birmingham City University – Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

The Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment (CEBE), housed in Millennium Point, unites the University’s engineering and technology subjects into a single faculty. CEBE comprises the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and the School of Computing and Digital Technology and has an excellent track record of collaborations with industry including the BBC, Cisco, Microsoft, Rolls-Royce and SAP.

The Research Excellence framework (REF2014) found world-leading (4*) research in both subjects submitted: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (UoA16) and Computing (UoA11), with Computing producing one of the top 20 Impact Case Studies in the country.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects are essential for the development of new solutions to major societal challenges including the Ageing Population; Sustainable Buildings; Energy; Transport and Health. When STEM expertise is combined with creative practices from the Arts and Humanities, and understanding of people and societies from the Social Sciences, truly innovative things can happen.

CEBE is making major investments in growing the quality and volume of research across both Schools, through investments in academic staff and researchers; doctoral students and new labs, and equipment. CEBE is offering PhD bursaries funded at UK Research Council rates plus fee waivers; the 2018-19 bursary is £14,777

Applications must be received no later than 23: 59 pm on Friday   6 July 2018    through this link:



West Midlands Landscape and Infrastructure

We have lost an important connection with the landscape - a way of seeing and understanding its profound significance in our everyday life and culture. This gap in our knowledge is a conceptual void that threatens the landscape in the face of 21st-century challenges. Given increasing recognition of the value of the metropolitan landscape in the global battle for talent, this apparent disconnect also undermines crucial regional aspirations. We are looking at three themes:

  1. Regional materiality:

How can we make visible the region’s complex materiality in ways which strengthen its identity and add to its economic, cultural and environmental prowess on the national and international stage? What ways might we employ to embed a region’s physicality and identity within a) the planning and development process and b) regional governance? How can we embed all of the above within community perceptions, lives and histories?


  1. Rivers, Floods and Identity in the West Midlands:

Water is the commodity that will be under more pressure than any other in the future. Climate change and an ever-growing population mean that we need to plan now to protect its future. How can we work across professional, administrative and disciplinary boundaries to make visible through mapping, topographical and digital studies the massive, powerful and hidden hydrological regional landscape and its rich history and culture? How can we appraise the suitability of various ecosystem services to operate at a regional scale from a natural, cultural and economic perspective? What mechanisms might be proposed to ensure the river valley systems, tributaries, floods and tides are recognized throughout the conurbation as the ecological muscle of the region?


  1. Regional Institutional Frameworks and Policy:

We seek to set out a new idea of landscape as the mechanism through which a diverse and complex region can be brought together. You will explore the principles of a regionally-based connection to the culture and materiality of the land as a lens through which both established and entrepreneurial mechanisms can thrive. How can the relationships between communities and individuals and the materiality of a region be convincingly expressed as a model for governance? How might governance mechanisms be aligned to account for, and better serve these relationships? How does a recently established Combined Authority such as the West Midlands utilise a new idea of landscape as a robust and compelling narrative on national and international stages? How has the physical materiality of a region shaped economic development in the past, and how can we ensure that this knowledge is fully and appropriately harnessed in the fourth industrial revolution? Is there a way in which a new idea of landscape can equip the region economically and culturally for the national and global challenges ahead? What models might be needed to ensure that decision-making bodies consider the landscape as the primary marker for future investment and development proposals?

Before applying, we suggest that you read Kathryn Moore’s 2015 paper on the idea of landscape. Candidates with a background in the following subjects are particularly encouraged to apply: Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Planning, Urban Design, Economics, Sociology, Geography, Urban Metabolism and Urban Health. We also welcome applications from candidates with considerable professional experience; please contact us to discuss entrance requirements.


For further details or an informal discussion please contact Professor Kathryn Moore (


To apply please follow the steps under the “how to apply” link and clearly mark your proposal with the project title you wish to apply to. Please select a September 2018 intake.