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Britain's Leading Edge? The impact and Implications of Economic Development Policy in Rural Regions - Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES), Cornwall - PhD (Funded) Ref: 3607

University of Exeter

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st July 2019
Closes: 31st October 2019
Reference: 3607

Academic Supervisors:

Professor Jane Wills, Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES), University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall

Cornwall Council Supervisor:

Jessie Hamshar, Director of Strategy, Cornwall Council, Truro

This PhD studentship will explore the legacy and impact of regional economic development policy on rural areas in Britain, over the recent past. The student will explore the rationale for regional economic development policy and its impact on rural areas and smaller towns. Particular attention will be paid to Cornwall’s economic development history and the parallels evident in other largely rural areas on the ‘edge’ of the nation (such as the wider South West, non-metropolitan North East and North West, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The studentship is designed to explore the shared experiences of what might be called ‘the leading edge’ with a view to then considering new ways of practising regional economic development and the narratives that are needed to accompany any shift in strategy. The PhD will provide an opportunity to explore the ways in which narrative plays a key role in the development of policy, looking at the way in which city-regionalism has risen to prominence with a view to then testing out alternative narratives that push the rural leading edge up the political agenda.

The post-Brexit shared prosperity funds provide an opportunity to rethink the assumptions of regional economic development policy. Hitherto, much UK policy making has relied upon dominant assumptions about the importance of investing to grow value (through the measure of GVA) and this has inherent spatial biases, favouring larger metropolitan areas and cities. The PhD studentship will explore the potential impact of using other measures to shape new investment and intervention decisions such as productivity levels, wages, green investment and well-being. The project will also explore alternative development strategies that reflect the particular history, culture and capacities of the local population, using Cornwall as an example. The potential impact of further devolution of decision-making in relation to public policy and expenditure will also be a consideration in looking at alternative models of regional economic development that include greater levels of political autonomy from the centre.

The successful student will be based at the University of Exeter’s campus in Penryn, and spend at least one day a week working at County Hall with Cornwall Council. They will join a supportive community of research students in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES) with access to local and wider opportunities for networking and training provided by the University of Exeter.


This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

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