BRE CASE Studentship in Urban Design and Value, starting 1st October 2014

Project title: Urban Design and Value: Developing Improved Assessment Frameworks for Communities

School: School of Construction Management and Engineering.

The School of Construction Management and Engineering has established a global reputation for the quality and breadth of its academic and commercial research. We are one of the world's leading research-intensive university schools developing the policy, theory and practice of the organisation and management of the built environment. The research activity is grounded in an interdisciplinary socio-technical systems philosophy that stresses the reciprocal relationship between people and the built environment. The School has five research groups: Business Innovation in Construction, Digital Practices, Healthcare Infrastructure, Innovative and Sustainable Technologies, and Transition Management to a Low-carbon Economy. Further information on the breadth of our research can be found at

The School continues to intensify its research in urban design and sustainable communities by advertising a new BRE Case studentship. The University also has ambitious plans for the built environment and will launch of a new School of Architecture in 2016.

Supervisors: Professor Tim Dixon and Dr Dragana Nikolic

Project Overview: Urban design (or the design of the buildings, places, spaces and networks that make up our towns and cities, and the ways that people use them) operates at a number of scales from individual site and street level through to community/neighbourhoods and city scale. Previous research has shown that good urban design can create added value from an economic perspective, an environmental perspective and a social perspective. However, it is difficult to measure many of the intangible benefits of urban design and this makes it difficult for those procuring and constructing buildings to assess how much should be invested in 'good' design and construction. There is therefore a need for further research which examines the link between urban design and value and develops better ways of analysing the potential relationship.

This studentship provides opportunities for research which will:

  • Examine the role of urban design in community/neighbourhood developments.
  • Investigate the different types of 'value' that exist in the built environment and how they may be measured.
  • Examine existing techniques for assessing value
  • Analyse how value and design link with existing rating tools (for example, BREEAM Communities).
  • Develop and test improved assessment frameworks for analysing the relationship between urban design and value.
  • Examine the potential relationship between the social outcomes of good urban design and their possible economic value.
  • Improve the outcomes of procurement and construction by improving the ways in which urban design can be valued.

The studentship will also inform emerging BRE practice in China and Brazil, and will also link with emerging best practice internationally, including Scandinavia.

The aim of this award is to provide PhD students with a first-rate, challenging research training experience, within the context of a mutually beneficial research collaboration between the University of Reading and BRE.

Industrial CASE provides outstanding students access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone. Students benefit from a diversity of experimental approaches with an applied/translational dimension. Students have an opportunity to develop a range of valuable skills and significantly enhance their future employability; many will become research leaders of the future.

Eligibility: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in construction studies, economics, urban design, engineering, architecture, planning (or similar disciplines) or in a suitable management or built environment field, with ideally a relevant MSc qualification. Experience of quantitative techniques and social science research methods and familiarity with the literature on urban development and planning processes is desirable. Knowledge and/or experience of urban design processes and economic and spatial measures of urban design (e.g. spatial syntax, Social Rate of Investment) are also desirable. Excellent organisational and communication skills are required. A keen interest to engage in interdisciplinary research is essential.

Please note that due to restrictions on the funding, this studentship is for UK/EU applicants only.

Funding Details: An Industrial CASE studentship will cover tuition fees and stipend for UK applicants (tuition fees for EU applicants and partial tuition fees for non-EU applicants) and will be topped up by BRE. This stipend and top up are intended to cover living costs and travel costs arising from the placement.

How to apply: Further details about this studentship can be obtained from Professor Tim Dixon - email:

To apply, please submit an application form including a 300 word proposal demonstrating how you would take forward this research.

When completing the application form, please write 'SCME CASE Studentship - Dixon' in the text box in 'Section 10 - Funding'.

To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Construction Management and Engineering here:

Application Deadline: 23 June 2014

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