Collaborative Doctoral Award between the School of Geography at the University of Leeds and Beam

‘Public Arts for Inclusive Placemaking’

Funded by the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH)

  • Are you a talented researcher with a Master’s degree, or similar postgraduate qualification, and looking for your next challenge?
  • Do you have a background in qualitative research and a good first degree in the arts and/or geohumanities including the broad fields of human geography, anthropology, media, art or heritage studies or cognate fields?
  • Do you also have professional experience relevant to the scope of the project (or experience of belonging to a collaborative team)?
  • Do you want to pursue your career in one of the UK’s leading research-intensive Russell Group universities and a world-class Geography department?

The successful candidate will be based in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds and supervised by Dr Martin Zebracki, Principal Investigator and Lead Academic Supervisor; Prof Robert Vanderbeck, Academic Co-Supervisor; and the Partner Organisation Supervisor, Frances Smith, who is Principal Consultant at Beam.

WRoCAH is a Doctoral Training Partnership of the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. It is responsible for the distribution of doctoral studentships, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), provided for these universities and for the coordination of a doctoral training programme. The research area of the studentship in hand falls in the remit of the WRoCAH Academic Subject Cluster of Creative Arts and Media:

* Important note: If you are selected by the CDA project team to be put forward to WRoCAH, your application will be considered competitively within the main WRoCAH competition. Being put forward for consideration is not a guarantee of funding.

This 3-year studentship will make a significant contribution to understanding the role of artists and participatory arts in placemaking practices to promote social inclusivity. Three research questions underpin this project:

  1. Perceptions: What impact do the arts in placemaking have on individuals and communities?
  2. Evaluations: What are the limitations and potentials of extant models for assessing social impacts of arts-led placemaking practices on diverse communities?
  3. Actions: How can artists and the arts potentially inform planning/policies/public-private developments to promote inclusionary practices?

This studentship addresses a significant gap by the rigorous study of related perceptions, evaluations and actions, drawing from archival material, observational fieldwork, interviews and focus groups in carefully selected case studies in the Yorkshire region where artists have worked closely with planners and local and marginalised communities.
The successful candidate will benefit from the supervisors’ expertise, training in cutting-edge research methods and the project partner’s rare access to resources and links with beneficiaries to maximise impact. You will be actively involved in decision-making about the research design and execution.


This studentship provides a unique working relationship with Beam, the trading name of leading UK arts organisation Public Arts based in Wakefield, in support of its mission to advocate, commission and deliver transformative arts programmes to inspire communities, animate places and underpin the development of lively and inclusive places.
Through the unique access to its 30-year archive, live projects and professional network, you will advance the critical objective of Beam by interrogating how artists and participatory arts in placemaking practices may have engendered greater participation by particular members of the community – while such practices may have been profoundly exclusionary for other community members.
You will support Beam in catalysing collaborative action research with artists and its partners in national and international networks of consultants and trustees, which are key to the public art sector, to explore and demonstrate the benefits of arts in place(making).

This project will extend, advance and disseminate a unique body of public knowledge and awareness of the role of artists and participatory arts in placemaking practices to enhance social inclusivity. This will involve both conventional academic outputs (i.e. peer reviewed articles) but also a programme of public outreach.
This studentship will involve 4 months of concrete engagement activities, which will support Beam’s general work and capacity to disseminate research across social and cultural policy sectors and the creative industries and to play to different agendas of key players in the field and government-funded bodies including the Arts Council England.

Full-time AHRC Competition Studentships for doctoral research are 3 years in duration (or 5 years part time). Awards are subject to satisfactory academic progress. Awards must be taken up in October 2019. No deferrals are possible. Awards will comprise UK/EU fees at Research Council rates and, for eligible students, a maintenance grant (£14,777 in 2017/8).

Strong applicants will have, as per the above, a good first degree in an appropriate subject, as well as a Master’s degree and professional experience relevant to the scope of the project (or experience of belonging to a collaborative team).
Please note that all applicants should meet the AHRC’s academic criteria and residency requirements.

Before applying for any WRoCAH Studentship, please first ensure that you have read the WRoCAH webpages about Collaborative Doctoral Awards, the WRoCAH training programme and requirements.

Please note that the selection of Collaborative Doctoral Award applicants is a two-stage process:

Stage 1:
Applicants must apply for a place of study HERE clearly stating to which project you wish to apply, by the deadline given below.

To assess your academic ability to undertake three years of independent research you are required to provide the following evidence:

  • Project Statement (a two-page statement that conveys your motivation and enthusiasm for the project and demonstrate your suitability for the intended study);
  • Curriculum Vitae;
  • Transcripts of marks for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees plus certificates where available;
  • Two academic references from referees who will be able to provide their references by the deadline for Stage 1;
  • IELTS Certificate (if applicable).

Interviews will then take place to select a suitable candidate.

Deadline for Stage 1 applications: 10 December 2018

Date of interviews: By Skype, date to be confirmed

Stage 2:
Candidates selected after Stage 1 then liaise with the project supervisory team to submit a WRoCAH studentship application via the WRoCAH online application form by the Wednesday 23 January 2019 5pm deadline.
NB: candidates who have been unsuccessful at Stage 1 can submit a separate WRoCAH application as a non-CDA applicant.

To explore this studentship further and for any queries you may have, please contact the Lead Academic Supervisor, Dr Martin Zebracki

*Image credit: Wakefield precinct sketch by Tess Jaray

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