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Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future

Full-time (3.5 years) funded PhDs available from October 2023 under the leadership of Professor Steven Miles and funded by the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships award

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. Based within the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future (LUDeC) will focus on how research can bring together academics, students, local communities and urban designers 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.


LUDeC seeks to redress the limitations of scholarship that conceives of the city as a site of competition, by expediting a humanistic design philosophy envisaging the city as a site of collaboration, equity and social justice.

Under conditions where the divisive nature of the city has become so concentrated, particularly in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, we argue that the future of urban design is restricted by disciplinary boundaries and an inability to conceive of the city beyond immediate economic, social and environmental measures. LUDeC will focus on enabling research dedicated to producing a more just and humanistic urbanism that can generate glimpses of an alternative future.

LUDeC is motivated by the proposition that what constitutes the livable city can only properly be explored outside disciplinary constraints. Our commitment is to research  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 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.

We seek proposals from across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences that challenge conventional notions of the city and of city communities and traverse disciplinary boundaries.

Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Centre (PAHC)

The successful Leverhulme scholars will be based in PAHC, with access to both a trans-disciplinary programme of research training and a community of practice that seeks to challenge traditional notions of what a PhD might be.


Applicants should have an honours degree (2:1 or above) and a relevant Master’s degree, or equivalent qualifications or experience.

Applications are welcome from all disciplines contributing to the above research agenda. Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors to discuss their potential project informally.


The studentship includes fees at the Home rate (£4,596 for 2022/23) and an annual stipend for 3.5 years at the UKRI rate, currently £17,668 for 2022/23. In exceptional circumstances, fees at the Overseas rate may be available.

How to apply

Further details on the LUDeC programme.

The closing date for applications is 5pm GMT, Monday 29 May 2023.

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