PhD studentship: Using web-based technologies to better understand and present temporal variations in access to public services

Public Transport GIS Research GettyImages-1190134465.jpg


This PhD studentship, offered full time over three years, is part of the University’s contribution to the ESRC funded 'Civil Society – Civic Stratification and Civil Repair', awarded to the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods Research Centre, and is tied in with the work package that looks at inequalities, civic loss and well-being.


It will develop innovative approaches based around the implementation of network-based web-modelling tools that draw on open data sources to examine spatial and temporal trends in spatial accessibility. There are well-recognised limitations in using so-called ‘static’ approaches to examine patterns of accessibility for more detailed geographies. 


One key issue relates to the need to factor in temporal changes in the demand for services, in changing network flow capacities (due to traffic patterns and public transport timetables), and in the opening times and temporal capacities of the services themselves. 


As new data sources such as social media activity and on-line bus/train timetables become available through web server interoperability tools, the opportunity arises to refine existing approaches to incorporate this information to provide more accurate representations of spatial service availability.


Building upon research already conducted at the GIS Research Centre, this project will review approaches to understanding temporal variations in supply-demand relationships, and will develop methodologies to allow their incorporation into so-called ‘floating catchment area’ (FCA) accessibility metrics. It will also engage with the latest web-mapping APIs and geospatial web server technologies to develop browser-based tools for computing and visualising temporal FCA scores.


Skills and entry requirements


Candidates should have an interest in, and aptitude for, coding and scripting, and possess a high degree of computer literacy. Whilst a formal qualification in programming is welcomed, this is not an essential requirement providing there is demonstrable evidence of prior engagement with software development. Familiarity with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript would be advantageous, as would exposure to PHP, SQL and Relational Database Management Systems. Similarly, any prior experience of working with geospatial data, geographical information systems, web mapping APIs and GeoServer, are advantageous. 


An upper second-class degree, a Master’s degree, or relevant equivalent industrial experience, is required. We particularly encourage applications from candidates that hold a degree at Graduate or Masters level in Computer Science, Geographical Information Science, Data Science, Informatics, or Geography with significant quantitative elements.


How to apply

  • Read the information for applicants.

  • Please register with MyUSW and create an online account.

  • Please select MPhil/PhD (Informatics) when applying. 

  • Applicants are not expected to submit a research proposal for this studentship.

  • Informal enquiries about the project can be made to Professor Gary Higgs gary.higgs@southwales.ac.uk or Dr Mitch Langford mitchel.langford@southwales.ac.uk.

  • Enquiries about the application procedure can be directed to Llinos Spargo in the Graduate School llinos.spargo@southwales.ac.uk.

  • The closing date for applications is Friday 30th October 2020.

Interviews are expected to be held in the w/c Monday 9th November 2020. The studentship will commence in January 2021.

Funding notes


The Studentship is to support full-time study for three years. The successful applicant will receive an annual tax-free bursary of £15,285 and tuition fees (at the Home / EU rate) will be waived.