Maximising the potential benefits of UWE Bristol’s green infrastructure to improve student mental health


An opportunity to apply for a full-time PhD in the Faculty of the Environment and Technology. The studentship will be funded/part-funded by the Faculty of Environment and Technology: Ref 2022-JAN-FET07.

The expected start date of this studentship is January 2022.

The closing date for applications is 14 October 2021.

About the studentship

Globally, one in five young people are diagnosed with a mental health condition and suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 15 to 29-year-olds (WHO, 2020). There is good evidence base that access to greenspace can benefit young people with anxiety and depression. However, there are very few studies from the UK or that measure outcomes over the longer term.

UWE Bristol are in the process of improving the green spaces on campus, in line with the requirements of Building with Nature, a benchmark for green infrastructure. This PhD will research students’ preferences for the design of these spaces and the activities that take place in them, and the impact they have on student mental health. This will inform green space provision for young people and contribute to the evidence for their role in improving mental health of this population.

The PhD will be supported by Estates and Facilities and two centres of excellence in greenspaces and health: Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments and the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing.

The indicative research questions are:

  • What are the barriers and enablers to increasing student use of campus green spaces?
  • How can campus green spaces be designed to ensure they are inclusive and facilitate use by the student population?
  • How can campus activities be designed to maximise the direct or indirect use of green spaces by students?
  • What is the impact of changes to campus green spaces on preventing anxiety and depression in students?
  • What is the impact of changes to campus green space on treating anxiety and depression in students?

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email the Director of Studies, Dr Dannielle Sinnett ( or Professor Catherine Hobbs ( or Professor Richard McClatchey (


The studentship is available from January 2022 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


Applicants must have a good first degree and ideally will have Masters in planning, geography, psychology, public health or a related discipline.  The studentship is available both for UK and overseas applicants.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-JAN-FET07.

Applicants have the opportunity to discuss their studentship with Directors of Studies via a webinar to take place on Wednesday 8 September 2021 from 10:00 to 12:00 BST.  Please contact Karen Duka ( to reserve your place at this webinar. 

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. 

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 14 October 2021.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place on the weeks commencing 1 and 8 November 2021. If you have not heard from us by 28 October 2021, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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