PhD Scholarship Opportunity – Smart City Living Labs

AUSCCER and the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities have an exciting PhD Scholarship opportunity for someone interested in research on urban experimentation and the Smart City, supervised by Professor Pauline McGuirk.

Urban Experimentation and the Smart City

In the urban age, cities are increasingly positioned as key sites through which to address grand global challenges, from inequality to economic reinvention to sustainability. Urban experimentation has become a central means of exploring alternative ways of living in and managing cities to address these challenges, such that we now can speak of ‘the experimental city’ (Evans et al 2016). While experimentation has been most strongly associated with delivering urban sustainability goals (Bulkeley et al 2016), experiments come in many forms and with diverse scope and ambition—from maker spaces and hackathons, to innovation hubs, test beds and urban living labs. Experimentation facilitates the creation of new knowledge, the assemblage of new relationships and socio-materialities, and the shaping of new narrative frames and practices to advance, demonstrate and embed urban change. As a key conduit for stimulating and steering change, experimentation can be considered a central mode of contemporary urban governance (Bulkeley and Castán Broto 2013).

Urban experiments, in their various forms, are fast becoming a central part of the rollout of ‘smart cities’: cities with embedded networks of sensors, mobile ICTs and computational capacity interwoven with the city’s governance, infrastructure, services and experience (Luque et al 2014). Smart City innovation hubs, experimental precincts, and digital living labs (alongside other forms of experimentation) are emerging as sites with the potential not only for technological testing and learning but also for assembling the expertise, capital and inclination to make cities smart. As such, they will be central to the politics of smart cities.

This PhD project will explore key questions around the purpose and implications of smart city experimentation and how it is contributing to the governance of the smart city in the Australian context.

This scholarship will be associated with Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP170103384) Making Cities Smart: Emergent Geographies of Smart Urbanism (CIs Robyn Dowling and Pauline McGuirk).

Applicants are required to write a short proposal outlining a research project on the broad topic of Smart City Living Labs, summarizing the project’s aims, methods and potential contribution to academic literature/policy debates. A variety of projects will be considered.


Both domestic and international students are eligible and encouraged to apply.

The scholarship covers a stipend only. International students would need to apply for an International Postgraduate Tuition Award (IPTA) to cover tuition fees (more info).


The successful candidate will receive a stipend of $26,682 (non-taxable) (2017 rate) per year which will be indexed annually for the duration of the award. The duration of the award shall be for 3.5 years.


To be eligible, a student must have completed a Bachelor Degree in human geography or a related discipline with First Class Honours, or be regarded by UOW as having an equivalent level of attainment; and intend on undertaking a full time higher degree by research by March 2018.

How to apply

Applicants should submit:

  1. A cover letter; a short proposal outlining the research project, a CV and relevant academic transcripts to Professor Pauline McGuirk, email
  2. A full Higher Degree Research (HDR) admission application, available here.

Deadline for applications: Sept 29th 2017

For inquiries in the first instance, please contact Prof Pauline McGuirk. Email:  Phone: +61 2 4221 3124.

More information

Domestic applicants

International applicants



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