Planning Research Degrees - PhD - 2018/19 Entry

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
Course Code:
PR0112 (Full Time) PR0155 (Part Time) PR0171 (Distance Learning)
  • Full Time (3-4 years)
  • Part Time (4-7 years)
School of Engineering and the Built Environment
City Centre

The School welcomes enquiries relating to the built and natural environment, including planning, development, surveying, facilities management, conservation, expertise development, and history. Areas of research in which staff are currently active include rural-urban fringe economy and management; post-catastrophe urban reconstruction; urban conservation; stakeholders and community engagement; local sustainability; and controlling infection in health facilities. In line with the faculty’s research strategy, and our success in the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, research students interested in the following areas are particularly welcome: environmental management, sustainability, stakeholder perspectives, spatial planning, and property development.

Research in the School is focused principally in the University’s Centre for Environment and Society Research, and further details of its research, staff, projects, publications and current research students can be found on its web pages.

Key Facts

A PhD, “Doctor of Philosophy”, is the highest-level qualification, based on individual and detailed research, resulting in a thesis of about 80,000 words.

The School offers specialist supervision if you wish to pursue research programmes for the award of PhD. You may undertake your research either full-time or part-time. If you are accepted for PhD research you will be assigned to a Director of Studies (your main supervisor) and at least one second supervisor. There will be a programme of training workshops and seminars to support you.

As a research student in The Birmingham School of the Built Environment you will join a thriving research community and be part of one of the University’s research centres of excellence, the Centre for Environment and Society Research. You will be encouraged to take part in the Centre’s research seminars, to publish in collaboration with your supervisors and to take part in research conferences nationally and (where possible) internationally. The Faculty as a whole also has a growing population of research students who organise social and academic events.

For further information, please consult ourResearch Degrees Handbook


We currently have scholarship opportunities* available for the following topics:

West Midlands landscape and infrastructure

We have lost an important connection with the landscape - a way of seeing and understanding its profound significance in our everyday life and culture. This gap in our knowledge is a conceptual void that threatens the landscape in the face of 21st-century challenges. Given increasing recognition of the value of the metropolitan landscape in the global battle for talent, this apparent disconnect also undermines crucial regional aspirations. We are looking at three themes:

  1. Regional materiality:How can we make visible the region’s complex materiality in ways which strengthen its identity and add to its economic, cultural and environmental prowess on the national and international stage? What ways might we employ to embed a region’s physicality and identity within a) the planning and development process and b) regional governance? How can we embed all of the above within community perceptions, lives and histories?
  2. Rivers, Floods and Identity in the West Midlands: Water is the commodity that will be under more pressure than any other in the future. Climate change and an ever-growing population mean that we need to plan now to protect its future. How can we work across professional, administrative and disciplinary boundaries to make visible through mapping, topographical and digital studies the massive, powerful and hidden hydrological regional landscape and its rich history and culture? How can we appraise the suitability of various ecosystem services to operate at a regional scale from a natural, cultural and economic perspective? What mechanisms might be proposed to ensure the river valley systems, tributaries, floods and tides are recognized throughout the conurbation as the ecological muscle of the region.
  3. Regional Institutional Frameworks and Policy: Weseek to set out a new idea of landscape as the mechanism through which a diverse and complex region can be brought together. You will explore 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. 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? 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? 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 harnessed in the fourth industrial revolution? 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 might be needed to ensure that decision-making bodies consider the landscape as the primary marker for future investment and development proposals?

Before applying, we suggest that you read Kathryn Moore’s 2015 paper on the idea of landscape. Candidates with a background in the following subjects are particularly encouraged to apply: Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Planning, Urban Design, Economics, Sociology, Geography, Urban Metabolism and Urban Health. We also welcome applications from candidates with considerable professional experience; please contact us to discuss entrance requirements.

For further details or an informal discussion please contact Professor Kathryn Moore (

To apply please follow the steps under the “how to apply” link and clearly mark your proposal with the project title you wish to apply to. Please select a September 2018 intake.

Applications must be received no later than Friday 6 July 2018

*We are offering PhD bursaries funded at UK Research Council rates plus fee waivers; the 2017-8 bursary is likely to be £14,777


Entry Requirements

PhD applicants will normally be expected to hold a Master's degree in a relevant area.

You will need to complete the research degree application form and provide a statement of your initial research ideas (we advise between 1,000 and 2,000 words, with full referencing to relevant literature).

How to Apply

To apply, please complete the most appropriate online application form from the list below.

You can also download a copy of theCEBE PhD proposal form.

Application deadlines

For a September start, applications must be in by the end of May.

For a February start, applications must be in by the end of October.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,195
Sep 2018 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,098
Feb 2019 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,195
Feb 2019 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,098
May 2019 FT 3-4 years PhD £4,195
May 2019 PT 4-7 years PhD £2,098
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2018 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000
Feb 2019 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000
May 2019 FT 3-4 years PhD £12,000

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Please contact the faculty office for information on fees.

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Postgraduate Open Event

Our postgraduate open event offers you the chance to:

  • Meet with lecturers and other prospective students to discuss study options
  • Meet and chat with our current students
  • Obtain advice on fees and funding opportunities.

97% of our graduates find work or further study within six months (DLHE). Explore your potential at our open evening.

Who is it for?

Whether you are coming to the end of your undergraduate studies, or have been in your job for a while and want to progress in your career or change direction, a postgraduate qualification gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.

Our graduates are already shaping the world in a variety of high-profile roles – and you could be next. Read some of our inspiring case studies.

For more information, visit our Open Days page or call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Book now
Book now
Saturday 30 June 2018

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

The PhD is a well-established and valued academic qualification within the sector and is highly likely to enhance career prospects. For those wanting to follow a career in teaching and researching in Higher Education, a PhD is highly desirable.

Course Structure

A research degree is not a taught ‘course’ but is an individual programme of research developed by the student and supported by at least two expert supervisors. A full-time PhD will normally take about 3.5 years, and can also be studied part time.

All students are required to undertake an initial training programme leading to a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) in Research Practice during their first year of study, and other appropriate training in later years.

A day in the life of a PhD student

If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies. Read more in Karen's blog.

Assessment Methods

Written thesis (normally about 80,000 words). An oral examination with at least two specialist examiners is also required. All assessments are in English.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).

Further Information

Prospective students may make enquiries about research degree study by emailing