Built Environment

MPhil or PhD or PhD by Published Work

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Key facts

Start dates

January 2024 / June 2024 / September 2024

Application deadline

It is recommended that you apply at least 6 months in advance to allow adequate time for your application to be processed (in the case of UK/EU applicants no less than 4-6 weeks).



Course length

Full time: 1 - 3 years

Part time: 2 - 6 years

Funding status



The School of the Built Environment has a dynamic and thriving research programme within a research environment that is internationally recognised for its quality and impact.

Research students play a vital role in the school and are integrated into all aspects of academic life, through:

  • Research groups
  • Involvement in research projects
  • Seminar series
  • Teaching.

Applications are welcomed from students whose research interests complement those of the research groups. We are particularly interested in applications for:

  • Planning
  • Real Estate
  • Construction.
Students looking at an iPad

Research expertise

Staff in the School engage in a continuous stream of interdisciplinary cutting-edge research and scholarly activities designed to meet the current needs and anticipate future requirements of the built environment. The School has an impressive list of funders and clients covering UK and EU government, research funding councils and industry. Links with universities worldwide provide exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and overseas study.

Key areas of expertise and scholarship in the school are centred around the following research groups. Applications are welcomed from students whose research interests complement those of our research groups.

Degree routes

All students enrol as probationer research students. During the first year you will formally register your research proposal for one of the below routes. 

The degree for which you register will depend on your academic qualifications and research experience. 

Additional details

Recent and ongoing research projects

Co-Creation: a 4-year EU-funded project that aims to bring together different actors, such as researchers, policymakers, residents and artists, to ‘co-create’ understanding about different urban neighbourhoods and to address disadvantage.

Healthy Urban Mobility: a study to understand the impact of everyday (im)mobility on health and wellbeing with a variety of social groups living in different neighbourhoods in Brazil and the UK.

Socio-economic impact of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre: aims to explore methods used to predict the socio-economic impacts of Offshore Wind Farms and to compare predicted impacts with actual impacts.

Contribution of Compact Neighbourhoods to Social Sustainability: this EU funded research investigated how compact urban form can promote the social sustainability of intermediate neighbourhood areas in two major European cities, London and Berlin.

Spaces of Hope: exploring the often-overlooked ways in which local people and organisations have come together to improve their physical and social environments.

Researcher looking at a computer

Why Oxford Brookes University?

The School of the Built Environment is dedicated to offering an outstanding experience for research students. As a research student you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • become a member of one of the School’s high quality, ambitious research groups
  • study alongside talented academics working in similar fields
  • have opportunities to interact with a dynamic research environment that is actively engaged in consultancy projects, teaching and writing funding proposals
  • automatic membership of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) which brings together staff and students from the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Computing & Mathematics and Art.
  • a wide variety of optional training courses, student events, lectures and other opportunities delivered through the DTP, the Graduate College and wider University
  • 24-hour access to digital suites with specialist programmes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), ArchiCAD, Revit, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modelling, 3D Studio Max and, Rhino 3D, NVivo and SPSS
  • close links that exist with the UK and international practice, industry and government
  • all students are allocated a Director of Studies and at least one other supervisor who they meet with regularly
  • students have the opportunity to be involved in teaching as part of career development
  • a range of personal support that includes access to a wide range of staff who are available for consultation. The University operates a Research Student Entitlement which ensures students receive appropriate and generous support and opportunities to present their work at conferences.

Learning and assessment

As signatories to Vitae Oxford Brookes fully supports the rounded development of research students. Your research will be supported by your supervisory team who are all experts in their fields and have experience of working closely with postgraduate students.

The School’s Postgraduate Research Tutor (PGRT) also ensures that you receive a stimulating and appropriate programme of wider support. Our Graduate College organise and support a variety of events for research students; training and networking sessions to bolster skills, develop concepts and share ideas.

The Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) brings together staff and students from the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, and Art for bespoke training sessions contributing to your development as a researcher. Students are also encouraged to join at least one of the University’s seven research networks. These provide opportunities to develop collaboration that strengthens multi-disciplinary research undertaken by Brookes academic staff and research students.

researcher looking at a computer


Assessment methods used on this course

Assessment and monitoring of progress takes place through a number of key stages from the formal registration of your proposal, gaining of ethics approval if required for fieldwork, transfer from MPhil to PhD and the final examination by viva. These are all supported by your supervisory team and the PGRT.


We have a highly experienced team of research degree supervisors in the school with more staff keen to take on new research students.

Dr Alan Reeve

Reader in Planning and Urban Design

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Dr Beacon Mbiba

Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning and International Development

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Dr Bridget Durning

Reader in Environmental Assessment & Management

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Professor Dave Valler

Professor of Spatial Planning

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Dr Emma Skippings

Senior Lecturer in Planning

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Dr Esra Kurul

Reader in Organisational Studies in the Built Environment

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Professor Georgia Butina Watson

Professor in Urban Design

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Dr Graham Wood

Reader in Environmental Assessment and Management

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Dr Henry Abanda

Reader in Construction Informatics

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Professor Joe Tah

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

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Mr Karl Kropf

Senior Lecturer

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Dr Laura Novo De Azevedo

Principal Lecturer Student Experience, Senior Lecturer in Planning and Urban Design, Subject Coordinator BA in Urban Design, Planning and Development, BA in City and Regional Planning and MPlan

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Dr M. Reza Shirazi

Reader in Sustainable Urban Development

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Professor Ramin Keivani

Head of School of the Built Environment

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Dr Regina Mapua Lim

Subject Coordinator for Urban Design / Senior Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning

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Professor Sue Brownill

Professor of Urban Policy and Governance

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Professor Tim Jones

Professor of Sustainable Urban Mobility

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Dr Youngha Cho


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After you graduate

Career prospects

Career development is a key part of the research student journey at Brookes. The University provides an excellent programme of career and professional development training which can be found on the Programme for Researchers page.

How to apply

Entry requirements

Please see the specific entry requirement details in the degree route section above.

Applicants should normally hold a 1st or Upper Second Class Degree (or recognised equivalent qualification).

Appropriate applications will be considered from outstanding candidates with substantial prior experience at an appropriate level.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you will need to provide a certificate of IELTS at least 6.5 overall (with no less than 6.0 in any element).

As a result of very recent changes made by UK Visas & Immigration, please note we no longer regard TOEFL as an acceptable language test for entry to Oxford Brookes. This applies whether you require a Student visa or not. You can find more details on our English language requirements pages.

If you do not meet these requirements you may be able to take our University English as a pre-sessional course.

Application process

  1. Please check that you meet the entry requirements, financial requirements and English language requirements of the programme.
  2. Explore our research groups and supervisory staff pages to see how your chosen field of study aligns with the research portfolio within the school.
  3. Agree your research
    1. At this stage if you are interested in Planning and Urban Design research, you should contact Dr Ben Spencer at bspencer@brookes.ac.uk or +44(0)1865484061.
    2. If you are interested in Real Estate and Construction Research, you should contact Prof. Ramin Keivani at rkeivani@brookes.ac.uk or +44(0)1865 483409. Advise either Dr Spencer or Prof Keivani that you are considering making an application.
    3. You are also welcome to contact particular academics to help you develop your ideas.
  4. Formulate your proposal. You can indicate any staff members whom you would like to work with, or the Tutors will circulate your proposal to the most appropriate staff to get their comments.
  5. If the proposal is accepted the Tutors will ask you to make a formal application, or give you advice on how the proposal may be improved. For guidance on writing a PhD research proposal see our Guide to writing PhD Research Proposals.

Supporting documents

Our MPhil/PhD programme requires additional supporting documentation to be submitted as part of the application process.

  • research proposal
  • scan of your passport - to confirm your name and date of birth. We will then ensure that any offer letters issued to you correspond with your passport name, this will help when applying for a Student visa.
  • IELTS Certificate or equivalent (if required) – no older than two years from the proposed start date of your programme.
  • scan of your final degree certificates already awarded
  • scan of transcripts
  • two references (at least one academic). Your references must be on institutional headed paper and be dated and signed by referee(s).
  • evidence of funding – (if sponsored by an employer or government, you must provide evidence in the form of a recently dated sponsorship letter on official headed paper. If supporting your studies from private funds, you must provide a recently dated bank statement).

After your Oxford Brookes online application has been submitted, these documents can be e-mailed directly to the Research Administrator in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment at tde-researchpgr@brookes.ac.uk.

Tuition fees

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

International part time

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

For International fees the following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

Home fees are set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and are released approximately five months before the start of each academic year.

If you have any questions about fees, get in touch with the Research Degrees Team at rdt-researchdegrees@brookes.ac.uk.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page


Some current students have awards from a wide range of external bodies including industry, government bodies and charities, and others are self-funded. Occasionally, the university has a few faculty specific and competitively allocated scholarships which, when available, are advertised on our Research Funding Opportunities page and on jobs.ac.uk.

In addition, details of available funding are available on the funding page for UK and international students.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course