PhD and Masters Studentship in Urban Analytics / Geographic Data Science. Liverpool, UK


*****Closing Date 31st July 2015 17:00:00 BST.*****

The Consumer Data Research Centre has an ESRC funded PhD award available to begin September 2015 based at the University of Liverpool. Additionally, and if necessary, the successful candidate may also be required to complete the MSc in Geographic Data Science, which is also fully funded.

Project description

This project takes a data-intensive approach to expand knowledge about urban areas and their building blocks: neighbourhoods. Cities are probably the single most powerful human invention, yet, we have only limited understanding of how they work and evolve at both micro and macro time scales.

Although very broad and sometimes abstract, the concept of neighbourhood has been instrumental in Social Science to assist our understanding of urban structures and processes. In recent years,
however, the explosion of datasets relating to consumption in cities presents urban researchers with an unprecedented opportunity to define, identify and study neighbourhoods and their evolution in new quantitative ways.

This project is based within the ESRC-funded Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) at the University of Liverpool, providing both an opportunity to engage with industry on real-world projects, and collaborate with a large group of researchers at UCL, University of Oxford and the University of Leeds.

Complementing the use of unique data sources provided by the CDRC, will be a methodological emphasis on geocomputation approaches. In particular, techniques from the fields of spatial analysis, spatial econometrics and machine learning may be combined. It is envisioned that the project will produce advances in some of these areas to customize methodologies to the particular domain question and to the unique nature of the data used.

The project is divided in the following main work packages:

  • Bias: get a clear sense of the nature and extent of consumer data, in comparison to official sources such as the Census.
  • Neighbourhood identification: methodological exploration of how to delineate spatial partitions using multiple sources of data, with potentially different characteristics (points, polygons, etc.).
  • Comparison of multiple delineations of neighbourhood boundaries: methodologies to explore differences between partitions, both statistically and visually.
  • Methods to track neighbourhood changes over time: techniques to quantify and assess changes and differences between multiple partitions.
  • Large-scale application at the national level: what is the geography of consumer neighbourhoods in the UK? What does it tell us about cities and their differences?
  • Policy recommendations: how can these insights be operationalised by the public and private sector?



A successful candidate will have a 1st class / high upper 2nd class undergraduate degree or an MSc with Merit or Distinction in a quantitative social science discipline.


3 year (or 3+1) ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) Research Studentships; Studentships include an annual tax-free maintenance stipend at the standard ESRC rate* (for 2015/16, this is £14,057 for full-time students - tax free). In addition, the studentship will pay for all tuition fees. Research Students will have access to central funds to cover research related expenses, fieldwork, collaborations and overseas institutional visits. Funding is open to UK / EU students only.

How to Apply

To apply, please submit a CV and supporting letter of application to Professor Alex Singleton, demonstrating how you feel your skills and experience are relevant to the CDRC.

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