Potential PhD Students

I’m always interested in hearing from potential PhD students. My broad research areas are in urban geography, social geography and cultural geography. Anyone interested should contact me on robert.shaw2@ncl.ac.uk.

Of particular interest would be projects which diversify the geographical focus of current research into the urban night, either by looking at cities in regions which have had less focus, or by finding urban spaces which have not been explored at night. I am also interested in broader urban or social geography topics which might link to regeneration, production of subjectivity, practice theories or concepts of temporality, and could certainly form part of a supervisory team on a range of topics in these areas.

Some potential topic areas on which I might lead in particular include:

Alcohol and Urban Life

  • The role of alcohol and leisure (the ‘night-time economy’) in cities
  • The governance and planning around alcohol in public places
  • The diverse social roles of alcohol
  • The relationship of different social groups to alcohol
  • The stag and hen party industry

Artificial Lighting and Darkness

  • The emergence of Dark Skies places and other forms of night-time protection
  • The practices, phenomenology or experiences of living in dark places
  • Changing lighting technologies and their implementation in cities
  • The relationship between artistic or festival lighting and everyday lighting
  • People’s everyday engagement with artificial lighting

The Domestic Night

  • Nocturnal domestic practices (family relations, home-making)
  • Homelessness and night
  • Suburban or rural homes or neighbourhoods at night


  • Ethnographic work exploring different industries at night
  • Cleaning, maintenance and infrastructure at night


Newcastle University participates in the ESRC Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership (“NINE DTP”). This rather complicatedly named institution is the mechanism for distributing government funding for social science PhDs in the North East of England and Northern Ireland.  They fund around 50 places across the two regions, and the deadline this year for applying to them is the 18th January 2019. There will be EARLIER internal deadlines at Newcastle University that come sooner, so if you’re interested then act now!

Some projects may also be fundable via the AHRC ‘Northern Bridge’ scheme, which is the equivalent funding in arts and humanities. That scheme has not yet released its 2019 dates, but last year also had an application deadline in early January.