PhD Built Environment, Inclusive Mobility and Accessibility, and Healthy Cities

Updated: 25 days ago
Deadline: 02 Jun 2022

Scholarship opportunities

Call for applications: Full time Double Degree PhD position (2022- 2026)
Research Theme: Built Environment, Inclusive Mobility and Accessibility, and Healthy Cities

We are seeking to recruit a candidate wishing to obtain a double doctoral degree involving collaboration between the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) and Tampere University (Finland). The selected candidate will have to start at the latest on 1st of November, 2022. The candidate will stay and work at both Universities (the first two years in the Netherlands and the last two years in Finland). Upon successful completion of the programme, the candidate will receive a double degree from the University of Groningen and the Tampere University.

Theme description
The appointed PhD student will work on a doctoral research project proposed by themself on a topic related to the links between built environment, inclusive mobility and accessibility, and healthy cities as described below:

Urban areas around the world are growing rapidly. Strategic transport and spatial planning of cities is required worldwide to keep up with this growth if these urban regions are to maintain productivity and quality of life (QoL). As discussed by the American Planning Association, the ultimate goal of planning is ‘‘to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations”. Specifically, planning influences the development of cities and neighborhoods, and services and amenities, which determine where and how people work, travel, shop, interact, and in other ways live their lives. Therefore, planners need to understand environment, mobility, and accessibility correlates of health and QoL to enable planning for more healthy cities.

Recently, a growing number of studies have focused on the role of the built environment, mobility, and accessibility, which jointly affect people’s activity space, their health and QoL. However, to come up with evidence-based inclusive land use and transport policies, innovations, and interventions that could improve health and QoL in cities further empirical evidence is required.

A PhD project within this research theme might explore topics such as:

  • the influence of objective and/or perceived characteristics of the built environment on actual/perceived mobility/accessibility and their ultimate effect on actual/perceived health and wellbeing
  • accessibility and adaptation to innovative mobility services, interventions, technologies, and transport infrastructure and their influence on actual/perceived health and wellbeing
  • innovative accessibility indicators and measures for inclusive Planning and/or for times of (climate) crisis.

The prospective PhD-student could focus on a specific age group (e.g. children, adults, older adults), gender, and/or geographical context or take a comparative approach (comparison between age groups, genders, or geographical contexts). The method could be an empirical quantitative, or a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach based on primary and secondary data collection and analysis. Longitudinal or semi longitudinal research design and the use of innovative research methods (e.g. virtual reality, the use of wearable sensors, big data analytics, etc.) for exploration of behavior, adaptation to innovations, and perceptions is encouraged.

  • a Masters degree in a discipline such as (economic) geography, urban (and regional) planning, spatial planning, transportation planning and other related disciplines
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English proven by a minimum score of 92 in TOEFL (92 overall, with no section below 20) or IELTS of 6.5 (6.5 overall, with no section below 5.5) per sub-skill (writing, reading, listening, speaking)
  • knowledge of statistical analysis methods (using tools such as SPSS, AMOS, R), and spatial analysis (e.g. GIS applications and techniques) is an asset
  • familiarity with accessibility studies and travel behaviour literature is an asset
  • you enjoy performing research. You are independent, self-motivated and eager to learn
  • you are keen to study and work in both partner universities.


The PhD candidate will be jointly supervised by Prof. Taede Tillema and Assistant professor Samira Ramezani from the University of Groningen and Prof. Heikki Liimatainen and Assistant Professor Steve O’Hern from Tampere University.

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen provides education and research within Geography, Demography, and Planning. The research theme is Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation. With two bachelor and seven master programmes, the faculty offers a wide range of courses to 1000 students. We are making places better together! For further information visit the webpage of the faculty at Faculty of Spatial Sciences,

The Faculty of Built Environment at Tampere University conducts high-quality scientific and applied research in the fields of architecture and civil engineering and provides higher education based on this research. Our unique environment promotes collaboration and innovations and offers opportunities to pursue new avenues of multidisciplinary research and education. For further information visit the webpage of the faculty at


University of Groningen offers the PhD-candidates a 2-year PhD scholarship (for the first two years), with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. The scholarship amount is approximately € 2,249 (gross) per month. In addition you will have a maximum of € 4,000 to spend on data collection, printing final thesis, attending conferences, etc. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the UG Graduate School. The UG Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors and academic staff. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related research skills.

Tampere University offers the PhD-candidate 2-years employment (for the last two years). Salaries are based on the job demands and employees’ personal performance in accordance with the Finnish University Salary System. The starting salary range will be from € 2,500 to € 3,000 (gross) per month. A higher salary may be agreed upon based on the candidate’s performance. You will have to apply to be enrolled in the Doctoral Programme in Built Environment at Tampere University as well.

The double doctoral degree is granted after successfully completing a set of advanced taught courses (40 ECTS), writing a doctoral thesis (usually based on publications) and defending the thesis in a public examination in the Netherlands and Finland. During the PhD, the doctoral candidate will be expected to present at high-level scientific conferences, publish in leading academic journals, and actively participate in the research groups in the University of Groningen and Tampere University. The PhD candidate can choose to follow advanced taught courses in the University of Groningen or Tampere University, or a combination of both.


To Apply please upload the following mandatory documents at the latest by June 1st 2022 (23:59, CET):

1. Motivation letter that addresses your interests and describes how you fit in the advertised position with the applicant’s contact information and an indication of the preferred starting date (max 1 page).
2. Outline of the applicant’s proposed PhD research project and plan, including an overview of related research in the field, important academic theories/debates, research gap, research hypotheses/questions, research methods, data sources, analytical approaches, and research schedule (max 5 pages). A template can be found via this link,
3. CV including details of all academic outputs and contact information for 2 persons who may be contacted to provide a character reference (max 3 pages)
4. Sample of work (e.g. an abstract of your MSc thesis, research article, research project experience relevant to the PhD position, max 1 page).
5. Copy of the applicant’s master’s degree certificate and a transcript of studies (with a clear explanation of the grading scale)
6. Proof of English proficiency (reason for being exempt, or TOEFL/IELTS/other language certificates).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:
Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Samira Ramezani,
  • Heikki Liimatainen,

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

Additional information
  • The general language requirements for doctoral programmes


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