Leverhulme Trust Fully Funded PhD Scholarships in Design of Cities of the Future, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Manchester Metropolitan University has been awarded a £1.35m Doctoral Scholarships award from the Leverhulme Trust to support doctoral research into cities of the future. The Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future (LUDeC) provides funded studentships for 15 students over the course of the award. Based within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, LUDeC focuses on how research might begin to bring together academics, students, local communities and urban designers (in the broadest sense) to transform the way we think about cities and to envisage new ways of living and working.

LUDeC takes its inspiration from William Hesketh Lever, who was committed to a holistic vision of urban planning that emphasised the vital importance of social justice. In this spirit, LUDeC seeks to redress the limitations of scholarship that conceives of the city as a site of competition, by expediting a humanistic design philosophy that envisages the city as a site of collaboration, equity and social justice.

Under conditions where the divisive nature of the city has become so concentrated, not least in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the future of urban design is, we argue, thwarted by the limitations of disciplinary boundaries and by an inability to conceive of the city beyond immediate economic, social and environmental measures. LUDeC instead focuses on integrating and galvanising the diverse assets of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in order to enable research dedicated to producing a more humanistic and just urbanism that can generate glimpses of an alternative future.

LUDeC is motivated by the proposition that what constitutes a liveable city can only properly be explored outside disciplinary constraints. Our commitment, then, is to research that does not simply reassert the city and its communities but that self-consciously seeks out the unforeseen. LUDeC will elicit what might be surprising or unprecedented about the cities of the future, and how we might envisage, harness and utilise this uncertain potential in the interests of long-term sustainability. LUDeC is committed to using the diversity of city life as a driver for positive social and cultural change.

To this end, we seek proposals from across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences that challenge conventional notions of the city and of city communities.

Please note that we encourage proposals that seek to traverse disciplinary boundaries in creative ways and that challenge disciplinary norms. Candidates can apply to be registered in any of the faculties within Manchester Met providing that the research does not fall within areas that are not supported by Leverhulme.


There are a total of five opportunities available for 2023/24. We are holding an open call for project proposals, and two specific projects, details are below. The closing date for all applications is 5pm GMT 29 May 2023. Please ensure you read all the guidance notes before applying as there is a multi-step process to apply.

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