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Planning PhD Studentships 2019-20 

Available Funded PhD Opportunities

Staying in the Rural: Contemporary staying processes and stayers' contributions to rural community life

The School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University Belfast offers a three-year Department for the Economy (DfE)  funded PhD studentship (starting Autumn 2019) as part of the STAYin(g)Rural research project (ORA/ ESRC funded).

The STAYin(g)Rural project is an international collaboration between Queen's University Belfast (QUB), Groningen University (Netherlands) and Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute (Germany).  The project brings together leading international researchers in the areas of population, rural and cultural geography to investigate why and how people stay in rural areas at different stages of their lives.  Applicants are at liberty to suggest and to develop a particular PhD topic within this general research area.

The researcher will be based at Queen's University Belfast within the Culture and Society Research Cluster under the supervision of Professor Aileen Stockdale.  Some general information about the larger STAYin(g)Rural project is useful background.

To date population geography research has focused on migration.  Especially in rural areas, those who do not move are seen as a residual category and their motivations for staying receive limited academic or policy attention.  STAYin(g)Rural involves three case studies, east Groningen (Netherlands), south Tyrone (Northern Ireland) and south Lower Saxony (Germany), and focuses on three life course stages which are known triggers for re-negotiating residential choices: young adulthood, family formation and post-retirement.  It acknowledges that people elect to belong to and participate in rural areas and that different types of mobilities influence their staying processes.  STAYin(g)Rural includes three PhD studentships (one at each of the partner institutions) and a post-doctoral researcher (also based at QUB).  The PhD students will participate in one-month exchange visits to each of the other partner institutions.

There are numerous ways the QUB-based PhD student might wish to develop their research project. Some initial (but by no means exhaustive) suggestions are reported in the publications below and might include a focus on: the role of housing and services provision; the role of employment opportunities; gendered aspects to staying; and intergenerational relationships among stayers.  The student may also wish to focus on the same or different study areas to Stayin(g)Rural.   

Stockdale, A and Haartsen, T (2018) Editorial:  Putting rural stayers in the spotlight.  Population, Space & Place.

Haartsen, T and Stockdale, A (2018) S/elective belonging: how rural newcomer families with children become stayers.  Population, Space & Place.

Stockdale, A; Theunissen, N and Haartsen, T (2018) Staying in a state of flux:   A life course perspective on the diverse staying processes of rural young adults. Population, Space and Place.

Strong applications would explore their chosen topic, ground it in relevant literature and set out an intended  methodology and methods.  Ideally, it would also address policy questions.

The application process

Applicants are invited to write a short A4 four-page (maximum) research outline (font size no smaller than 11) which gives details of:

  • The project title
  • The context for the research question(s) in terms of relevant literature and policy
  • Methodological approach and methods
  • Data analyses.

This should be accompanied by a CV showing academic qualifications and experience.  Candidates may be called to an interview based on a short PowerPoint presentation and questions and answers.  Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) at least a first degree at 2.1 or higher in a subject such as (Human) Geography, Sociology, Planning or other related discipline.  A postgraduate qualification such as a master's degree is desirable especially if it involved independent research. The closing date for applications is Monday 29 April 2019 at 4pm by email to Prof Aileen Stockdale. The studentship will start in Autumn 2019

The successful candidate will be funded through a DfE studentship (including (2018-19 rate) a stipend of £14,777 and Home/EU fees), the candidate must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years (with no restrictions).  EU residents may be eligible for studentship covering fees-only.

Aileen Stockdale is happy to answer any queries and informally discuss your ideas for the project  as they are developed.  Email:

Further details regarding eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) are available at the following link:


AHRC Northern Bridge studentships:

Suitably qualified applicants interested in applying with a project proposal orientated towards the humanities will be eligible for a Northern Bridge (AHRC) studentship. For further details of this competition, please visit the Northern Bridge website: Note that the deadline for applications is 5pm Wednesday 9 January 2019.


ESRC NINE DTP studentships:

Suitably qualified applicants interested in applying with a project proposal orientated towards the social sciences will be eligible for a NINE (ESRC DTP) studentship. Note that the deadline for applications is 4pm Friday 18 January 2019. Further inquiries about NINE studentships should be directed to Prof. Geraint Ellis.


How to apply?

To apply for any of the opportunities outlined above, please complete an application form on the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal.

The School warmly welcomes all enquiries regarding PhD research in Planning. PhD proposals can be developed in consultation with a potential supervisor based in the School; potential supervisors are listed below.

Further inquiries about funding opportunities should be directed to theSchool Postgraduate Admissions Officer.

Potential Supervisors in Planning

Dr Deepti Adlakha

Dr Philip Boland

Dr Jenny Crawford

Prof. Geraint Ellis

Dr Wesley Flannery

Dr Linda Fox-Rogers

Dr Neil Galway

Prof. Malachy McEldowney

Dr Stephen McKay

Dr Brendan Murtagh

Dr Linda Price

Dr Urmi Sengupta

Prof. Aileen Stockdale

Dr Richard Waldron