EngD – Coping with crisis: disabled people in emergencies in urban environments


Duration – 4 years

Funding Body: EPSRC

Funding – The studentship covers UCL tuition fees and provides a stipend of £15,726 pa (tax-free).

In partnership with the Greater London Authority, the UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, the UCL Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience invite applications for a four year (one year MRes and three year EngD) studentship to work on an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK funded project.

Studentship Description

The neglect of disabled people’s needs in emergencies is well documented but relatively little is known about how mobility-impaired people negotiate emergencies in urban spaces and how this could be improved. Designing evacuation plans around the needs of disabled people will not only aid those who are ordinarily disabled but also those who have been made disabled by a disaster.

The project will gather and analyse data from laboratory tests and simulation exercises carried out by emergency response agencies in the greater London area. It will use a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The research is likely to include the following activities:

1. Specific physical barriers to mobility and access in emergencies will be identified by analysing the literature from disaster management, accessibility and disability studies and holding focus groups with a range of disabled people.

2. Disaster simulations and training exercises will be examined using video and sensor data to track the position and speed of disabled individuals, and assess the impact of the various physical barriers.

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3. Barriers will be tested at the Pedestrian Accessibility movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA) with a small number of disabled people to better understand exactly what affect the barrier has, at what point the physical barrier becomes impassable, and what modifications are needed to resolve the problem.

Recommendations and design guidelines from the work will inform emergency planning and procedures as well as urban planning.

Person Specification

Suitable candidates could have a background in planning, urban design, engineering, transport or related discipline. They will possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum). They will need to have experience of research using GPS/GIS systems and also have an understanding of social science research methods. It would also be advantageous if they had basic programming ability and/or experience of working in disaster situations. Excellent organisational and communication skills are required. An open attitude to interdisciplinary research is essential.


Applications are invited from UK and EU members, residing in the UK. Applicants must meet the EPSRC eligibility requirements which can be found here http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/Pages/default.aspx

Start Date: 23rd September 2013

Application Procedure

For more information about the project vacancy and how to apply, please visit the apply button below and upload a covering letter and CV indicating how you meet the criteria and demonstrating your passion for the research.

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr John Twigg (j.twigg@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Catherine Holloway (c.holloway@ucl.ac.uk)

Closing Date: Friday 19th July 2013
Interview date: 30th/31st July 2013

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