ESRC Grant - Linked studentships in Consumer Data Analytics [2047]

Download an application form - Application Extended deadline 30th April 2014

Project B: Ethical Consumption.  Leeds University Business School

Number of awards: x4 Full Time Studentships available (4 projects)

Value of award: tuition fees at the relevant Full time UK / EU rate, and a standard RCUK maintenance grant  per annum for 2014/15 session £13,863. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Applicants MUST first submit an application for the research degree programme and be in receipt of a University BANNER ID Number (Student ID Number). ESRC applications without a valid University ID Number will be rejected.
  • These awards are only available to nationals from the UK and EU and are not open to applicants who are liable to pay academic fees at the international fee rate. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award (paying fees and maintenance). EU applicants are normally eligible for a fees only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award;
  • Applicants must hold a least a First Degree at undergraduate level equivalent to at least a UK Upper Second Class Honors Degree or equivalent and for +3 applicants a UK Masters degree with an overall average of 60% or higher is also required for the Business School;
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the Business School’s minimum English Language requirements;
  • Applicants applying for a +3 award must demonstrate that they have already completed the full research training requirements.

Further Information:

The University of Leeds is seeking talented and highly motivated doctoral researchers to join the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) which is being established with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Big Data Network. 

New data relating to both the social and physical world are being created at an increasing rate, and with great variety.  These sources, often characterised as “Big Data”, have been identified by the UK Government and Research Councils as one of eight great technologies that will power scientific developments and economic growth over the next decade.  This commitment has been matched by more than £360 million of government funds for big data research and infrastructure at UK universities.  Independent reports suggest that big data analytics could add £216 billion and 58,000 new jobs to the UK economy over the next three years. 

The CDRC will be part of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), which is now being established with more than £20 million of funding from the University and four major research councils (including the ESRC).  The city of Leeds is already recognised as a hub for big data in business, health care and academic research.  LIDA will move the University even further to the forefront by combining projects in consumer data research, medical bioinformatics, digital humanities and monitoring environmental change to provide a truly multi-disciplinary approach to this exciting and challenging field.

As part of this initiative we are offering four ESRC funded studentships to work on consumer data, which are generated by retailers, utilities and various service organisations in both the commercial and non-commercial sectors.  Studentships will be available for both three years and four years depending on prior experience and training, and will focus on the following topics:

Project A: Urban Mobility and Movement Patterns. Supervised by Professor Mark Birkin and Dr Nick Malleson in the School of Geography this project will use consumer data sources to focus on the critical interrelationships between time and space, and how this impacts on the local movements of people. Through a combination of big data analysis and advanced geographical modelling it will, for the first time, create a highly detailed picture of patterns of consumer behaviour that will be extremely relevant for businesses, academia and wider society.  This award will be held in the School of Geography.

Project B: Ethical Consumption. Supervised by Professors Matthew Robson and Wandi Bruin de Bruine in Leeds University Business School this project will develop and test a model of consumer purchasing motivations and behaviour that suggests ethical sensitivity is subject to a complex set of drivers. The backbone of the project will address Ethical shopping behaviour by combining data with financial data, weather data, and mobile phone data to explain variations in consumption motivations reflected in their ethical shopping behaviours. This award will be held in the Leeds University Business School.

Project C: Big data and the development of omni-channel business geography. Supervised by a team comprising Professors Susan Grant Muller, Graham Clarke and Martin Clarke from the Faculty of Environment this project will explore the usefulness of different kinds of consumer data for retailers and local authorities in the planning and delivery of local services (in particular transport and land use planning).  This award will be held in the School of Geography.

Project D: Changing the behaviours, habits and practice around the use of household surface cleaning products.Supervised by Professors William Young (Sustainability Research Institute) and Wandi Bruin de Bruine (Business School) this project will work in collaboration with ASDA (a major UK supermarket chain) to understand and influence patterns of use of household surface cleaning products to reduce associated environmental and health problems. 

Applications are welcomed from any social science (or related) discipline, although candidates for three year studentships (+3) must have already achieved the required level of research training (usually by the attainment of a Masters) and should have strong analytic skills from a numerate background. Examples include (but are not restricted to) economics, informatics/analytics, modelling, business, transport studies and geography.

Candidates for four year studentships (1+3) are also invited from social science disciplines and will be required to complete a one year (funded) masters’ programme (preferably in either Business Analytics or Geographical Information Systems) in advance of their PhD study.  Although supervised by academics from different faculties all students will be based in our dedicated data analytics ‘collaboratory’ at the University of Leeds working under the direction of the lead investigator Professor Mark Birkin (School of Geography). All studentships must commence on 1 October 2014.

How to Apply for an ESRC Grant-Linked Studentship at Leeds

Applicants must complete the University’s ESRC WR DTC Studentship Application Form (click here for application form).  The completed form (must be typed) should be returned in either Word or pdf format to the Postgraduate Scholarships Office, Marjorie & Arnold Ziff Building, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 or by email the relevant deadline - Extended Deadline 30th April 2014.

Applications are logged by the Postgraduate Scholarships Office and passed on to the relevant Schools for initial consideration.  Each School will nominate applicants for consideration by an Academic Quality Committee, which will make decisions on the final awards.

Please note that applicants MUST apply for a study place at Leeds as soon as possible – if applying on a +3 basis, applicants should apply for a place on a research degree programme commencing 1 October 2014.  If applying on a 1+3 basis, applicants should apply for a place on a taught postgraduate degree programme commencing September 2014 AND a place on a research degree programme commencing 1 October 2015.

How to Apply for a Place of Study at Leeds

You may apply online for research degree study at: or a Word version may be downloaded from this page.

You may apply online for taught postgraduate degree study at: or a PDF version may be downloaded from this page.

School Web Address:




Any Additional Requirements:

UK applicants will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance. European Union applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course

Contact Details: Professor Mark Birkin

Room G06, School of Geography, East Building, University of Leeds

+44 (0) 113 34 36838

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