New PhD: Locating disability within processes of urban greening and green gentrification in the UK

There is now a relatively well-established evidence base suggesting that time spent in so-called ‘green’ space environments (for example, parks, gardens, woodlands and countryside areas) can be beneficial for human health and wellbeing. However, a growing body of critical research examining the social impacts of urban greening has also identified detrimental processes of ‘green gentrification’, with minority and low-income residents witnessing the greening, rebranding and subsequent exclusion from their communities.

Although rarely acknowledged within the existing green gentrification scholarship, disabled people are at particular risk of such displacement due to high levels of poverty through entrenched disabling barriers to employment. Disabled people are also more likely to face additional (often invisible) labour costs in trying to re-build social networks following displacement and navigate unfamiliar physical, health and social care environments in new communities.

This PhD project aims to improve understanding of the implications of urban greening for disabled residents, and identify opportunities to embed disability knowledges and priorities within current efforts to create more socially inclusive urban green space access for health and wellbeing. It will focus on two urban case study areas in the UK, examining how the different national policy landscapes in these two regions intersect with local disability and planning politics to shape experiences of and responses to urban greening and green gentrification amongst residents with varied experiences and histories of disability.

A pluralistic qualitative interpretive approach is proposed for this PhD, combining qualitative evidence synthesis with documentary analysis and exploratory, person-centred qualitative fieldwork that will enable people to describe their experiences of disability, urban greening and green gentrification in their own terms at their own pace.

Academic Supervisors:

The studentship will be affiliated with the ‘GroundsWell’ project funded by Prevention Research Partnership/Medical Research Council (project ref 118009). ‘GroundsWell: Community-engaged and Data-informed Systems Transformation of Urban Green and Blue Space for Population Health’, is exploring how transforming cities with nature can best reduce – rather than inadvertently act to widen – social health inequalities. More information is available about GroundsWell online:


European Centre for Environment and Human Health, Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, Cornwall.

The University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 for 3 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. 

Entry requirements:

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate discipline. 

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level (Profile C) as per our guidance at

How to apply:

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

  • Your CV
  • Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 25th April 2022. Interviews will be held virtually in the week commencing the 16th of May 2022.  

Follow this link to apply

Any questions?

If you have any general enquiries about the application process, including any requests for reasonable adjustments to support the upload of application documents, please email or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers)  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor, Dr Sarah Bell (

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