Future Cities

We are seeking outstanding PhD candidates for University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow Joint PhD Studentships for the research projects listed below.

Cities are home to more than half the world’s population and the challenges facing cities of the future are complex and significant. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, a cohort of PhD students will collaborate across the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh to stimulate positive debate, inform policy and propose technological solutions for Future Cities. The projects will examine, evaluate and explore the complex and dynamic behaviour of the urban system using innovative and diverse methodological approaches.

Synergies and Added Value

Academics at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have a broad portfolio of shared research interests and many complementary strengths which provides a wide range of research opportunities in Future Cities.  This theme builds on substantial activities and initiatives in both Glasgow and Edinburgh and joint activities that offer multiple synergies and added value.

  • The Urban Big Data Centre, led by University of Glasgow and funded by ESRC, promotes the use of big data and innovative methods to improve social, economic and environmental well-being in cities. It provides an established framework for capturing, storing, analysing, and sharing urban big data.
  • The Centre for Future Infrastructure within the Edinburgh Futures Institute is an emerging multi-disciplinary research hub supported by the Edinburgh City Region Deal.
  • University of Edinburgh is a founder member of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.
  • University of Glasgow is a member of the Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities Committee SDS/2 of the British Standards Institution (BSI), which therefore creates additional dissemination and impact opportunities.
  • The School of Mathematics at University of Edinburgh can provide strong methodology support and has strong collaborative links through the Maxwell Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the interdisciplinary Centre for Statistics, and co-hosting the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences.
  • The aspirations of the Glasgow and Edinburgh City Region City Deals and Scottish Cities Alliance to accelerate the development of future city initiatives.
  • Scotland is developing Innovation Districts in partnership between Universities, city councils and Scottish Enterprise, for which Future Cities initiatives are vital
  • Scotland’s innovation centres, particularly CENSIS and Data Lab, will provide a valuable, immediate, and proven strategic interface to industry.
  • The Future Cities Catapult and Transport Systems Catapult are uniting to create a new organisation that will bring together their skills and expertise to tackle the problems of modern city living and address the future of mobility. A new dedicated Scottish base has recently been announced.
  • Both universities have major campus developments underway (and upcoming) that provide a unique opportunity for incorporating and designing smart infrastructure into living laboratories within substantial urban districts.
  • Both universities have built a strong joint legacy by co-leading What Works Scotland (2014-2018), a £4 million research programme funded by the ESRC and the Scottish Government, focused on public service reform, local governance and democratic, social and methodological innovation.

Existing Collaborations

The Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow have longstanding working relationships within the field of Future Cities that will be enhanced by this programme of studentships.  The University of Edinburgh is a partner in the Glasgow-based Urban Big Data Centre; the two universities are working together within the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering (SRPE) on Smart Infrastructure.; and both are also partners in the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA).

Value-added from the Collaboration

Future City initiatives are high on the agenda for the partners’ host cities, particularly given their respective City Deals (over £2 billion to support improved transport networks and regeneration). These studentships will add depth and breadth to these major activities and the existing research portfolio. It will enable us to widen the interdisciplinary focus of our existing collaborations, drive innovation, engage with industry, innovation centres and government, and ultimately support economic growth and social benefit across Scotland.

Potential for future joint funding

EPSRC, ESRC and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund are all sources of future funding to capitalise on this investment in studentships. The Urban Big Data Centre and the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme within the Edinburgh City Deal are just two examples that demonstrate the ability to attract funding in this area. The strong interdisciplinary focus, covering technical, social and policy, represents a distinguishing feature that will attract funding.

University of Glasgow projects - available from week beginning Monday 18 November 2019

University of Edinburgh projects - available from week beginning Monday 18 November 2019