Making your application to DREAM

Fully-funded NERC research PhD studentships available in DREAM

We are pleased to announce below a fully funded PhD studentship in the NERC DREAM CDT – the details are below! If you are interested in joining us in DREAM to study for a PhD in Big Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical methods, we look forward to hearing from you. Please take note of the University proposing each of the projects and be sure to contact the respective team regarding any further details you need.

We have a fully funded position open for the right applicant, to commence in late Spring/early Summer 2018. Any questions? See our FAQ, or do get in touch. See also the timeline of the application process.

MS Word document
DREAM CDT Student Application Form »

Note, when completed, please email the form (plus additional documents as directed) to the respective university contact shown in the listings below.

Cranfield University-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Stephen Hallett
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at Cranfield University

University of Birmingham-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Emmanouil Tranos
Building resilient cities in the shrinking paradigm: A UK and China comparison using new sources of big data
Resilient Cities project

Resilient Cities project

A three year fully-funded PhD studentship at the University of Birmingham, part of the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training.

Urban shrinkage is a common phenomenon throughout the world despite urbanisation being a well-established trend. With increasing globalisation, cities in both developed and developing counties experience economic downturn, population decline, de-urbanisation. Reasons and solutions of urban shrinkage have been discussed and documented extensively for developed countries (e.g. UK, US, Germany, and Japan). However, deeper understanding of urban shrinkage issues and how to resolve them in the developing world, especially in China with a large number of fast growing cities, is still lacking. Insights from developed countries could be learned in order to better address the challenges for building resilience into shrinking cities of the developing world. Northeast China provinces, including Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, now known as the “rust belt” in China, have topped the chart in the number of shrinking cities due to resource depletion, deindustrialization, and demographic changes. Similarly, most of the top UK declining cities are in the north of England as a strong indication of the North-South divide. Core cities of North England, such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, share some common characteristics with their counterpart in Northeast China in terms of industrial legacy, aging population, and loss of growth power to support surrounding areas. Insights could be gained for those cities in both countries by a comparative study of their resilience to internal and external changes.

With a focus on Northeast China cities, this project seek to 1) identify and better understand the spatial, economic and social issues of shrinking cities and the underpinning mechanisms in relation to other Chinese cities, and 2) design adaptive strategies to build resilience into these cities through a comparative study of urban shrinkage in China and UK. This project will expand the existing research by combining the spatial, economic and social dimensions of human mobility and urban interactions and considering the interplay of all three dimensions in defining a multidimensional measurement and assessment of urban resilience. Furthermore, this project will promote the collaboration between the UoB research team and the Chinese stakeholders in order to incorporate local interests and benefit decision-makers with both general and place-based strategies in policy-making.

This project will facilitate the identification and acquisition of various traditional and novel sources of data, which can be leveraged them to gain better insights by leading-edge big data analytics and AI techniques. The substantive and methodological knowledge that this PhD project will generate will directly contribute to the UK Industrial Strategy Grant Challenge of Artificial Economy and the Data Economy as well as on the Key Policies on Infrastructure and Places. Moreover, this PhD project will contribute to the research objectives of the Alan Turing Institute, which the University of Birmingham recently joined. The latter signifies the broader recognition of AI and the Data Economy as a research priority for the University of Birmingham.

About you: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Geoinformatics, GIScience/Geocompuation, Transport Planning, Civil Engineering, Geography, Environmental Science, Computer/Data Science or Urban Planning.
Applicants with skills in quantitative modelling or Python/R programming are preferred.

The studentship will be part of the NERC ‘DREAM’ Centre for Doctoral Training, offering an attractive stipend, a strong professional development ethos and fantastic training provision. Its research experience combines academic rigour with real-world problem solving, ensuring opportunities to progress your career in the global energy informatics sector. Researchers will study for a PhD, benefiting from expertise, events and courses run at all four of the DREAM partner universities.

For further details: Please contact Dr Zhaoya Gong (Birmingham), Lecturer in Human Geography (Big Data)
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5536
The second supervisor will be Dr Emmanouil Tranos

Newcastle University-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Stuart Barr
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at Newcastle University

University of Cambridge-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Mike Bithell
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at the University of Cambridge

Timeline and what happens next

  1. Studentship advertisements are announced – October, 2017
  2. Studentship applications closing date – Applications must be received by late Spring/early Summer, 2018
  3. Notification of applicants selected for interview –
  4. Interviews held – tbc.
  5. Notification of successful applicants –
  6. DREAM commencement and induction – Summer, 2018

Background: Overall, the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training supports three cohorts of 10 students, who join our programme in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, plus a further cohort of seven ‘NPIF’ doctoral places. Further to this, there are a number of other PhD students whose studies are affiliated to DREAM – extending out our vibrant community of research practice.

Our Dream students in post are now underway with their research projects, which are described here. All our positions are competitive and the student applications and interview stage allow us to identify and select the top applicants.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in the area of Big Data and environmental science and risk mitigation – we’d like to hear from you. Please contact the persons noted above to discuss – and send us your CV! We look forward to hearing from you.
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I am interested – what do I need to do?

The current selection of proposed doctoral projects is listed above, and is also available in other appropriate online channels, as well as on respective university noticeboards. You can make your application for up to two specific projects – in fact doing so may aid your chances. The DREAM student application form is also provided above for this purpose.

What are the benefits accruing from DREAM?

Over the course of their three year study with us (full time), DREAM students all receive the following annual bursary from NERC, made as a tax free payment:
Year 1: £17.5k
Year2: £18k
Year 3: £18.5k
Sum: £54k
In addition Dream students will have their university fees automatically paid, and their studentship is also allocated a ‘Research Training Support Grant’ (RTSG), managed through the centre that provides students access to a wide spectrum of training and development activities, and to inter-institute events such as our annual DREAM Challenge Week and the DREAM Symposium. Further to this, and the full range of advanced technical and scientific training of offer, our current DREAM students have also received a range of expert instruction and training, supported by NERC. In the past this has included week-long sessions at the renowned Hartree Centre for Big Data, an ‘Ideas to Impact’ course in the Cranfield School of Management, and a science communication course with professional graphic designers. Full details of these events are elsewhere on this site. More exciting training and development activities are planned!

I need more information

Please identify and contact one of the DREAM Management Board representatives who will be pleased to advise further.

Residence requirements and Eligibility

The ‘Research Councils UK’ (which incorporates NERC) have rules on Funding for Research Training. This webpage links to the Terms and Conditions of Research Council Training Grants which, in Clause 43 onwards, notes that to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. To be eligible for a ‘fees only’ award, note that students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible where they have been ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU; in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK. If you seek clarification on your situation, please contact us.

Note that for purposes of residence requirements, the UK includes the United Kingdom and Islands (i.e. the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

I have a disability, what should I do?

Described at Funding for Research Training, the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) are intended to help with additional expenditure for the costs of study-related requirements that may be incurred as a result of disability, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty that means additional support is needed to undertake a Research Council funded studentship. The allowances can cover the cost of non-medical personal assistance, items of specialist equipment, extra travel costs and general expenses. Please contact us for further information.

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