Posted on: 18 January, 2019
Application deadline: March 31, 2019

PhD scholarship – Urban Wellbeing, University of Birmingham, UK

Title: Co-creating age- and activity-friendly urban environments with older citizens and community stakeholders

Supervisor: Dr Afroditi Stathi –

Co-supervisor: Dr Jessica Pykett, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences –


We welcome applications for an exciting PhD studentship adopting an innovative participatory research approach involving older people, community leaders and other stakeholders working closely with the supervisory team to co-create age- and activity-friendly urban environments.

The successful applicant will work with Dr Afroditi Stathi, Dr Jessica Pykett and colleagues at Oxford University, and will conduct a series of studies targeting the promotion of healthy ageing in urban environments. The exact nature of the research will emerge over the course of the PhD, with input from the student, the supervisory team and with strong focus on grassroots community engagement, co-development and ownership. The successful candidate will become member of the Global Citizen Science Network1 and benefit from its global reach and supportive resources (

The overall aim of this thesis will be to assess diverse geographical and socio-economic urban environments that people live in and identify barriers to and facilitators of healthy ageing – for example personal, social and environmental barriers to engaging in walking in the local area, or to joining social groups. In particular,  this thesis will provide information for a) the impact of natural and built environment on lifestyle choices and the experience of ageing in urban environments, b) planning good-quality public recreational spaces including green and blue open spaces, and strengthening access to them by older people of diverse functional abilities, and c) ensuring design is consistent with the principles of safe, universal, age-friendly and equitable access with a priority being to reduce inequalities.

Methods will include:

  1. A case-study approach targeting diverse urban environments
  2. A Citizen Science approach1 based on Our Voice ( from the Global Citizen Science Network
  3. Participatory approach for full engagement and ownership by all stakeholders to ensure solutions that are tailored, valued, sustainable and effective

The successful applicant will need:


  1. A good first degree (2.1 or above) in exercise sciences, behavioural science, psychology or a health-related subject.
  2. A strong interest in active and healthy ageing.
  3. Experience of quantitative and qualitative methods.
  4. Excellent communication and relationship-building skills.
  5. English language certificate (English at GCSE or equivalent)



  1. Experience working with older adults.
  2. An MSc or MRes in exercise sciences or psychology or a health-related subject.
  3. Experience with case study research designs.
  4. Experience of conducting interviews/focus groups


The School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences is one of the longest established in Europe for scientific research into sport, exercise, health and rehabilitation. Thanks to a £16.4 million investment, the School is one of the largest custom built Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences facility in the UK. Research conducted in the school relates to sport, physical activity, health and rehabilitation from a range of perspectives within three research themes: 1) Sport Performance, Policy, and Education 2) Exercise, Medicine and Health, 3) Human Movement and Rehabilitation. This research was highly acclaimed in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF; 2014), with 90 per cent of the School’s research classified as world leading or internationally excellent.


Entry requirements


Information on Entry Requirements can be found at:


How to Apply

  1. Please apply using this website:
  2. Select: PhD in School of Sport and Exercise Sciences Full-time Research 2018/19. This is towards the bottom of the page.

To discuss the project further, please contact Dr Afroditi Stathi ( or @afroditistathi).


Funding Notes

This PhD is funded by the University of Birmingham, as part of Dr Stathi’s Research portfolio. Applicants need to qualify for UK studentship fees (e.g. by being UK or EU citizens), as the higher level of funding needed for international student fees is not available in this instance. However, self-funding students are also welcome to apply.



1Hinckson, E., Schneider, M., Winter, S. J., Stone, E., Puhan, M., Stathi, A., Porter, M. M. , Gardiner, P. A., Lopes dos Santos, D., Wolff, A. & King, A. C. (2017). Citizen Science applied to building healthier community environments: advancing the field through shared construct and measurement development. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 14, 133.