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School of Geography

ESRC White Rose DTP Network Studentship

Brexit’s Aftermaths:  Contesting insecurities

Supervisors: Dr Deirdre Conlon (University of Leeds) and Professor Maggie O'Neill (University of York)

The School of Geography, University of Leeds is delighted to offer one PhD scholarship (UK / EU tuition fees + stipend at UK research council rates), funded by the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Network Awards. The successful candidate will join a network of two other PhD students, academic supervisors across the White Rose Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, and public and voluntary sector partners. The network, entitled Brexit’s Aftermaths: Contesting Insecurities, will focus on the way in which individuals, communities and civil society groups are negating Brexit’s multiple after-effects in everyday life. The studentship is available to outstanding students interested in using innovative methods to conduct research on urban public space(s), counter mapping and contestation post-Brexit. Information about the research network can be found here:

In the aftermath of the Brexit leave, anxiety about the future of UK society is high, with a majority of people (68%) recently agreeing with the statement, 'There is increasing tension between different groups living in Britain’ (Hope Not Hate, 2017: 14). This anxiety is doubtless related to the reported 29% increase in national hate crime between March 2016 and March 2017. Against this backdrop, this studentship addresses a timely need for systematic research to investigate the socio-spatial dynamics of urban public space that contribute to, and counter, tension and hostility. Significantly, it focuses on a core problem faced by cities: how public spaces can contribute to and foster alternatives to intensified discord among individuals and communities.

This studentship will employ a mixed-methods participatory approach to investigate insecurities and counter-responses in urban public spaces in post-Brexit England. Specifically, it will use innovative mapping technologies to develop a topography and countertopography of the socio-spatial dynamics and correlates of xeno-racism in contemporary public spaces. Topography is a technology used in planning and military strategy, and as research methodology (predominantly in geography) that develops a detailed account of a place. Feminist scholar, Cindi Katz (2001) describes countertopography as a critical response to some of the problematic ways topography has been deployed. Countertopography redeploys topography’s tools to re-envision space and foster responses to disharmony and inhospitality. How can (re)mapping space contribute to (re)forming positive social relations that acknowledge, but do not reject, ‘difference’?

• To map (via a topography) the socio-spatial dynamics linked to post-Brexit xeno-racism in urban public space(s). How does space feature in everyday experiences of incivility, aggression and hostility?
• To identify and produce a counter-topography of socio-spatial features that contest xeno-racism in urban public spaces. How can a counter-topography encourage alternative forms of encounter with (and within) shared public space?
• To critically develop and extend the interdisciplinary conceptualisation of the relationship between space and (in)security. How is space entangled with Brexit’s immediate and emerging aftermaths? And how might space and its (re)mapping be part of a response to the anxiety and discord that has been a prominent part of these after-effects?

Application requirements

These studentships are available on a 1+3 or +3 basis. Please click here for more information

Minimum Upper Second Class honours degree or equivalent in Human Geography, Sociology, or cognate social science discipline.  Any of the following are also desirable: 

*A Masters degree in a relevant discipline
*Prior training and experience using participatory research methods.
*Prior experience working with non-academic government and/or civil society groups.
*Advanced training in Social Science Research Methods .
*A background and/or engagement in critical scholarship on urban public space and society-space relations .
*An interest/experience in innovative social science research and methods.

How to Apply

1. Applicants applying on both a +3 and 1+3 basis should first of all apply for the relevant research postgraduate programme to obtain their Student ID Number;
2. Applicants should complete the research on-line scholarship application form available at: by 9th March 2018 (17:00)

An Information Sheet with regulations, guidance notes and a link to the application form is available at

It is important that you select the correct studentship type for which you wish to apply (Network studentship), as this will determine the sections you will be asked to complete.

After receipt of your studentship application, the relevant School will provide further advice on your suitability for either a 1+3 or +3 studentship and advise whether you are required to undertake the MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary) programme.

Full awards will cover UK/EU academic fees and a tax-free maintenance grant paid at standard Research Council rates (£14,777 in Session 2018/19) for full-time study, together with other allowances if appropriate.  EU applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course.  Please see the RCUK Training Grant Guide (annex 1) for full details