Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


PhD Studentship in Social Sciences/Sociology: Creating Active Places (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R1137
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years
Funding Amount: full UK/EU fees (see eligibility criteria below), plus stipend of £13,590 p.a. (updated each year), plus £750 p.a. research and training support
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

 In partnership with the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre and DECIPHer

Applications are being sought for a prestigious full time PhD Studentship, to be based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2014

About the Project

Project Title: Creating Active Places: a mixed-methods study of young people’s physical activity and placemaking

Due to public health concerns about inactivity and obesity, policy-makers are now investing in approaches that aim to promote children and young people’s involvement in community-based play and sports in parks and other public spaces. Various environmental approaches are used, including redesigning such spaces, and new services have been deployed to encourage young people to participate in activities, including an increasing array of public and third sector staff (e.g. play rangers, sports leaders, detached youth workers, etc.). However, current investment in this area is very inconsistent, and rarely recognises the complexity of youth cultures or research advanced by critical weight studies scholars (e.g. Rich et al, 2012).

This doctoral studentship will help understand placemaking and physical activity from young people’s perspectives. Surveys of young people in two (urban/rural) localities using digital mapping software (e.g. will be employed to: identify clusters of high/low levels of physical activity, including unplanned/unofficial ‘active places’; and purposively recruit diverse groups of young people into in-depth, participatory qualitative research (e.g. community walking tours, and other innovative methods).

Informed by the cultural sociology of place, space and youth, and new feminist materialist theories of the body, movement and affect, this study will address research questions such as: How do young people create and negotiate active places, and how does this relate to the embodiment of their class and gendered identities in urban/rural locales?; What are the strengths and limitations of using new digital mapping methods to measure youth activity levels and identify the socio-geographic patterning of ‘active places’?; What are the implications of young people’s own understandings and experiences of space and in/activity for public health policy?

The studentship will fund a 3-year PhD. Applicants will have completed, or be currently enrolled on, an MSc in Social Science Research Methods, MSc in Childhood and Youth Studies or MSc in Public Health (or equivalent) and have experience of social research methods. The student will benefit from support from DECIPHer, a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence, and its partnerships with Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and third sector organisations to support the development of new approaches for improving young people’s health.


About the Studentship

The award will be made on +3 basis. A +3 studentship provides funding for the three years only, and assumes that the applicant will already have had research training from an appropriate master’s degree.

Number of Awards: 1

Supervisors: Dr. Adam Fletcher and Prof. Emma Renold


Residency Criteria: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education. EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement are eligible for a fees only award, provided that they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of their proposed programme of study.

Academic Criteria: Candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class undergraduate degree and also a Masters degree (preferably an ESRC recognised Masters or an equivalent background in research training – please see above).


This studentship is very generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It covers full UK/EU tuition fees and includes a Doctoral Stipend matching the UK Researh Council National Minimum (£13,950 p.a. for 2012/13, updated each year). It also includes £750 p.a for Research and Training support.

How to Apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the deadline of 12.00pm, 6th December 2013. Note that the deadline is absolute and applications received after this specified time and date will not be accepted.

- Covering letter and CV: Please send in a covering letter outlining what makes you a suitable candidate (this should cover what skills/knowledge you bring to the project, what aspects you find particularly interesting and any ideas you may they have on how it could be developed). This should be no more than 2 pages. Please also specify whether you wish to apply on a +3 or 1+3 basis. You will also need to submit a CV with this.

- A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in the School of Social Sciences: submitted to the Academic Registry via the Online Admissions Service (Please specify the School of Social Sciences – Research Degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Social Sciences) with a start date of October 2014 whether you are applying for a +3 or 1+3 award).

Applicants should complete the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application form (approx 500 words) to summarise how they would approach the given specified research project.

They should use the ‘Personal Statement’ section (approx 500 words) of the application form to compliment the information given in the covering letter and talk more about their background and interest in postgraduate study.

- Academic References: all applications require two references to be submitted in support. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as we will be using these to help us evaluate your ESRC studentship application.

- Academic Transcripts: where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application by the funding deadline.

If you have any queries about the application process, these should be directed to Vicky Parkin via the contact details below.

Information about the School

Cardiff School of Social Sciences is a large School with over 160 staff and a thousand undergraduate and postgraduate students. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise rated almost all of its research to be of an international standard, with 55% of it either “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. This rating, together with the size of the School, places it amongst the top five centres in the UK. Since its creation in 2000, the School has attracted over £18 million of research funds.

Cardiff University is the home of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Centre, part of a national network of 21 accredited Doctoral Training Centres across the UK judged by the ESRC to deliver truly excellent postgraduate training provision.

The successful applicant will become a member of the childhood and youth research group, and the sexualities and gender research group than run within the School.


Name: Vicky Parkin  

Telephone: +44 (0) 2920 870 855 



Linked Courses