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Fully funded ESRC CASE PhD available in Social and Cultural Geography, with Ordnance Survey

Posted on 08/01/2014

ESRC CASE PhD studentship with Royal Holloway University of London and Ordnance Survey

The Department of Geography at Royal Holloway University of London and Ordnance Survey have been awarded a three-year ESRC CASE PhD studentship by the ESRC South East Doctoral Training Centre, to commence in September 2014.

The studentship is entitled: ‘Mapping Vernacular Geographies in Places of Super-Diversity’.

We are now seeking appropriately qualified applicants for this studentship.


The Studentship

The studentship is for ‘+3’ funding (i.e. the student will need to have completed an appropriate Masters degree by the PhD start date of September 2014). The studentship will be fully funded, significantly in excess of standard ESRC levels for stipend and research expenses. Based on 2013-14 ESRC figures, the three-year award will comprise:

  • Tax free stipend of £19,726 pa (£13,726 pa basic ESRC stipend + £2,000 pa London Weighting + £4,000 pa addition from Ordnance Survey).
  • Payment of fees of £3,900 pa.
  • Research Training Support Grant from ESRC of £750 pa.
  • Additional Research and Public Engagement funding from Ordnance Survey of £10,000 over the three-year award.

The Research

The research collaboration is designed to engage Royal Holloway University of London’s (RHUL) research excellence in social and cultural geography with Ordnance Survey (OS) expertise in mapping geographic information. A strategic research priority of OS has been to develop their understanding and mapping of ‘vernacular geographies’. In tune with wider understandings of mapping as inevitably partial, and hence a social / political as well as scientific practice, OS has sought better to understand how people think about and relate to the places they map. Existing foci include, for example, the production of an ‘alternative gazetteer’ of vernacular / unofficial place and landmark names; the iSurveyor app concept to enable ‘volunteered geographic information’ (VGI) on landscape change by registered members of the public (or ‘citizen cartographers’); and a general concern to understand better the diversity of potential public users of OS products, in the context of wider social, cultural and technological changes in the UK. Traditionally, OS has been limited as to what it can represent by the medium of paper mapping. In an era where information can be held digitally this restriction disappears and is enabling them to investigate multiple and often overlapping geographies. Provisionally focused on the vernacular geographies of Tower Hamlets in London, this project pursues that possibility in relation to issues of cultural and social diversity. It brings together three main issues in Human Geography – place, culture and identity; social diversity and cohesion; maps and mapping – to pursue three aims: 1) in the context of social ‘super-diversity’ (Vertovec 2007), to understand how the ‘vernacular geographies’ of different people represent both cultural complexity and shared spaces of encounter and civic culture; 2) in the context of wider arguments for the ‘thrown-togetherness’ of place (Massey 2005), to evaluate how contemporary cartographic and geographic information practice can map places as constellations of trajectories; and 3) in the context of understanding the power of mapping and geographic information (Wood et al 2010), to analyse how Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s National Mapping Authority, can engage with a ‘super-diverse’ populace and meet the needs of diverse users. The research will be disseminated through both academic genres (thesis, conference presentations, journal articles) and public engagement activities.

Further Information

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the main supervisor, Philip Crang at RHUL, for a copy of the CASE studentship application form. This has more information on the proposed research and the nature of the collaboration between OS and RHUL. Contact: p.crang@rhul.ac.uk

The student will be based in the Department of Geography at RHUL, and more particularly within its Social and Cultural Geography (SCG) Research Group. Geography at RHUL has a large, vibrant and collegiate postgraduate research culture. The Department currently has c. 100 PhD students, with c. 50 of those in the SCG. SCG holds fortnightly ‘surgeries’ where staff and PhD students gather at RHUL’s central London base to share research news, ideas and materials. The Department has a strong record of RCUK funded collaborative doctoral studentships, with 26 held to date. These form part of a wider emphasis on knowledge exchange with non-academic organisations as a means both to enrich our research environment and to develop the societal impacts of our work. The Departmental website can be accessed at: http://www.rhul.ac.uk/geography/home.aspx.

Ordnance Survey is Great Britain’s National Mapping Authority. It is a Non-Ministerial Government Department and Executive Agency that operates as a self-financing trading fund. Supervision at OS will be provided by Dr Jenny Harding, Principal Research Scientist. OS has extensive experience of collaborative doctoral research. Its Research Department has helped to supervise 33 PhD projects since 2002, with 12 currently in process. The doctoral student will be supported to spend placement periods at OS and to disseminate research ideas and findings within the organisation. This studentship is part of an emergent strategic collaboration between RHUL and OS focused on the social and cultural geographies of mapping. Further information on OS research can be found at: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/education-research/research/

The studentship is provided by the ESRC’s South East Doctoral Training Centre (SEDTC). The SEDTC offers further support and advanced training provision for its PhD students. Information on the South East Doctoral Training Centre can be found at: http://southeastdtc.surrey.ac.uk/. Details of this CASE award funding and its processes are posted at: http://southeastdtc.surrey.ac.uk/case/ . General information on ESRC postgraduate funding is posted at: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/postgraduates/prospective-students/index.aspx.


Application procedure

Candidates must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • Only UK Home and EU students are eligible to apply (due to ESRC stipulations).
  • EU students must have been resident in the UK for more than 3 years on 30th September 2014.
  • Have a first-class or 2:1 undergraduate degree.
  • Have undertaken, or be undertaking, a relevant Masters degree in Geography or a cognate field.
  • Have prior academic knowledge of social and cultural geography and / or issues of socio-cultural diversity and / or the politics and practices of mapping.
  • Have prior training in and experience of qualitative research methods.
  • Be available for interview at the OS head office in Southampton on Thursday January 30th.
  • If successful, be able to complete personal application forms by February 14th 2014.
  • If successful, be able to take up the funding in September 2014.
Applicants should provide all of the following to p.crang@rhul.ac.uk by 12 noon Friday 24th January 2014:
  • Covering letter (max. 2 sides A4) setting out: a) the reasons for your interest in the project; b)your relevant past experience; and c) what you would bring to the project.
  • CV
  • Scan of Degree Transcripts (including individual course marks) for completed degree(s).
  • The names of 2 referees.
  • Those 2 references also need to be supplied direct by referees to p.crang@rhul.ac.uk by 12 noon Friday January 24th 2014.

It is planned that shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview at Ordnance Survey head office in Southampton on Thursday 30th January 2014.

Any general questions can be directed to Philip Crang; p.crang@rhul.ac.uk. I am very happy to chat.


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