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BCU CEBE Dean’s Scholarship 2023/4

Birmingham City University - College of Built Environment

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £19,237 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th April 2024
Closes: 30th April 2024

Celebrate our outstanding research achievements in Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment, as acknowledged in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework. We are excited to announce that the Associate Dean of Research is extending an invitation for five prestigious PhD scholarships within the College of Computing, scheduled to commence in September 2024.

Applications are welcomed from both UK and International candidates.

To apply, please complete the project proposal form,ensuring that you quote the project reference, and then complete the online application where you will be required to upload your proposal in place of a personal statement as a pdf document. 

You will also be required to upload two references, at least one being an academic reference, and your qualification/s of entry (Bachelor/Masters certificate/s and transcript/s).


Project Title: Co-Creating Inclusive Active Spaces: Empowering Teen Girls through Digital Interventions

Project Lead: Dr Silvia Gullino

Reference: CANVAS

Project Description

The proposed project aims to co-produce more equitable, inclusive, and active urban spaces with teenage girls through digital methods and interventions. The project acknowledges that cities are often designed by able-bodied white men for men, resulting in exclusive and dominantly masculine spaces that hinder the engagement of women and girls. The project seeks to address this issue by conducting co-production workshops with teenage girls to redesign existing and active green space. The research will involve the use of digital tools and techniques such as 3D scanning, augmented reality, and virtual reality to involve the girls in the design process and create new digital interventions to improve and co-design the spaces.

The project aligns with the CEBE vision and priorities in STEAM by using technology for the public good and addressing societal challenges:

  1. Green, digital, smart, and sustainable cities, construction, environment and living/working places.
  2. Emerging and advanced technologies with applications into key priority application domains such as Digital Health, Digital Built Environment, Smart Manufacturing and Digital Productivity.

The project contributes to our faculty’s equity, diversity, and inclusion goals by empowering teenage girls and addressing the underrepresentation of women in urban planning and design. The project also has internationalisation aims as the approach and outcomes can be replicated in other cities globally, contributing to more inclusive urban planning and design practices.

The project is interdisciplinary, drawing from various disciplines such as urban planning, human geography, urban design, computer science, and user experience design. The proposed team has experience in interdisciplinary research and aims to explore synergies and common ground through teenage girls' experiences of the city.

The project's aims and objectives include understanding teenage girls' experiences of active spaces, co-designing inclusive and safe spaces using digital research methods, developing interactive digital interventions, and generating transferable design principles and prototypes. The project will be carried out through scoping the field, conducting co-design workshops, trialling, and evaluating digital interventions, and organising workshops with stakeholders.

The outputs and outcomes of the project include academic papers, presentations at conferences, and future grant applications. Non-academic outputs include influencing local policies and practices, creating more inclusive active spaces, and establishing partnerships for further collaboration. The project will also contribute to the development of digital society research skills for the team members and engage teenage girls in critical digital inquiry.

The project will handle data in accordance with GDPR and ethical protocols, ensuring data security, and sharing in line with guidance. Ethical considerations include obtaining consent, respecting participants' rights and dignity, and ensuring research transparency and integrity. Ethics approval will be sought from the institutional ethics committee.

Anticipated Findings and Contribution to Knowledge 

The proposed research project aims to investigate the experiences of teenage girls in urban environments and explore the potential of digital interventions in creating safe and inclusive spaces for them. The anticipated research findings from this project will represent a significant contribution to new knowledge in several key areas.

Firstly, the project will provide insights into the specific challenges and needs faced by teenage girls in urban settings. By conducting interviews, surveys, and observational studies, the research will shed light on the factors that impact their sense of safety, well-being, and participation in physical activities. This understanding will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the barriers and opportunities for girls' empowerment in urban environments.

Secondly, the project will explore the effectiveness of digital tools and interventions in addressing these challenges. By developing and implementing digital solutions such as mobile applications or online platforms, the research will assess their impact on the girls' experiences and engagement. This will offer valuable insights into how technology can be harnessed to create inclusive spaces that promote girls' agency, social connections, and physical activity.

Furthermore, the project aims to develop principles and guidelines for designing gender-responsive urban spaces. By analysing the research findings and engaging with stakeholders, the project will generate recommendations for urban planners, policymakers, and community organisations to create more equitable and inclusive cities. These recommendations will contribute to the emerging field of gender-responsive urban design and provide practical strategies for fostering safe and empowering environments for teenage girls.

The anticipated research findings from this project will contribute to new knowledge by advancing our understanding of the experiences of teenage girls in urban environments, exploring the potential of digital interventions, and providing actionable recommendations for creating more gender-responsive cities. This knowledge will have implications for urban planning, public policy, and community development, ultimately working towards the goal of creating inclusive and empowering spaces for all.


Project Title: West Midlands Landscape and Infrastructure: data, communication and decision-making

Project Lead: Professor Peter Larkham

Reference: WMLI

Project Description

Identity is increasingly recognised as a critical component of people’s responses to place, and hence quality of life and wellbeing.  It is central to placemaking, a concept transcending the boundaries of built environment disciplines and professions such as planning, landscape, architecture and urban design.  Yet we have lost an important connection with the landscape - a way of seeing and understanding its profound significance in our everyday life and culture. Contemporary places are becoming placeless. This gap in our knowledge and professional practice is a conceptual void that threatens the landscape, particularly in the face of contemporary challenges including demand for ecosystems services, climate change and resource scarcity.  Given increasing recognition of the value of the metropolitan urban and peri-urban landscape in the global battle for talent, this apparent disconnect also undermines crucial regional aspirations.

The West Midlands is a particularly problematic landscape; both intensively urban and partly quasi-rural, and probably one of the most intensively human-modified landscapes in Europe, probably the world.  Decision-making at the urban fringe is posing difficulties. New governance mechanisms have been implemented but remain complex and contested at the strategic level particularly where complex values and data sets relating to nature, culture, economy and society intersect: the use of digital data in communicating and decision-making is not well understood. Radical new ideas such as a National Park for the urban West Midlands have been proposed, but their communication and – particularly public – understanding is limited.  Thus, there is a major knowledge gap and a need for research that can explore and explain how a new idea of landscape can change, develop and enhance the regional identity of places, especially in the West Midlands. 

The research aims to set out a new idea of landscape as the governance mechanism through which a diverse and complex region can be brought together, exploring 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. It explores how digital communication tools can best be used to convey the complexity of data and concepts.

To date, emerging concepts of ‘smart cities’ have been limited in their spatial and technological aspirations.  This work will develop a wider application of the concept to the landscape as a cultural and productive entity, and the landscape scale.

Anticipated Findings and Contribution to Knowledge

The contribution to knowledge can be expressed through answers to these questions:

  1. 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? 
  2. 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? 
  3. 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 communicated and harnessed in the fourth industrial revolution? 
  4. 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 and means of communication might be needed to ensure that decision-making bodies consider the landscape as the primary marker for future investment and development proposals?
  5. Can the smart and sustainable city concepts be extended to a broader scale and the landscape concept?


Based on the UK Research and Innovation rates for 2024 – 2025, this funding model includes a 36 month fully funded PhD Studentship, in-line with the Research Council values, which comprises a tax-free stipend paid monthly (2024/5 - £19,237) per year and a Full Time Fee Scholarship irrespective of your fee status, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD research.

Closing date:

23:59 on Tuesday 30th April 2024 for a start date of the 2nd September 2024.


Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

STEAMhouse, City Centre Campus
Belmont Row, Birmingham B4 7RQ

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