Making urban public places more accessible through design: video ethnographic research

Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at Open University, in partnership with Transport for All.

This fully-funded studentship is available from October 2024. Further details about the value of an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP award are available on the DTP’s studentships page.

Closing date: 9th January 2024, midday, UK time 

Project overview

The focus of this project is to make urban public places more accessible through design. The research will study the life of urban public spaces, examining how disabled people move and navigate their interactions with other people and designed things in different types of urban settings (low traffic neighbourhoods, streetscapes, shared public space etc.).

The project will adopt an ethnographic approach to study and video record the movement of people in their interactions in the public realm. The candidate will work closely with Transport for All to develop a programme of observational studies that explore place-based design practices and how disabled people with a range of impairments and access requirements experience streetscapes. Working with people in public places the research will foster debate on mobility and accessibility that will inform Transport for All’s casework, advocacy and policy guidance.

The research will build on insights from Transport for All’s study ‘Pave the Way’ research working with video data to review everyday social interaction in public places in detail, as well as the supervisor’s academic research on the accessibility of public places.



The student will be co-supervised by Dr Rachael Luck and Dr Miquel Valdez, from the Open University and Caroline Stickland from Transport for All. Luck and Valdez have experience in research and public engagement on the accessibility of the built environment, participation in design and ethnographic research methods. Caroline Stickland is CEO at Transport for All and has been involved in pan-disability consultancy, casework, advocacy and managing engagement in research programmes.

The candidate will study as part of Transport for All’s team. They will be able to build on connections with Transport for All’s membership, which is distributed across the UK in urban and rural communities. The candidate will also have access to and opportunities to learn from the charity’s lived experience, research function and access consultancy expertise.

The student will benefit from Transport for All’s back catalogue of research and publications to inform their project. Transport for All will also offer opportunities for knowledge exchange and peer learning with colleagues working on consultancy, advocacy and Disability Equality Training.


How to apply

We invite applications from candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities. We particularly welcome applicants with lived experience of disability or chronic illness. Applicants will ideally have a First Class undergraduate degree and a Masters degree (or equivalent) in an area related to the project (e.g. design, architecture, geography, anthropology, disabilities studies). Practical experience of the design of the built environment and the collection of video data would be desirable. Applicants should meet the eligibility criteria for Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentships.

If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) in addition to your AHRC studentship funding. DSA helps to cover the cost of any additional support that someone studying for a doctorate might need as a result of a disability, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty. The allowance can cover: non-medical personal assistance, specialist equipment, extra travel costs and general expenses.

For an informal discussion about the opportunity and how you might frame your approach to the CDA project, please contact Rachael Luck (on in the first instance.

To apply for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship, please complete OOC DTP Application Form, OU application form and supporting documents listed on the application from, Research proposal and a covering letter indicating your suitability to the project  and  send to by 9th January 2024 (midday, UK time)