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Postgraduate research project

Creative clusters in rural, coastal and post-industrial towns

Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The project aims to explore the development of creative and cultural clusters in locations beyond large urban centres including rural, coastal and post-industrial towns. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the project will examine the reasons behind such cluster development and the implications for local economies and policy initiatives.

Despite the strong tendency for creative and cultural industries to concentrate in the largest metropolitan areas, a growing number of studies in many different countries have reported that some of these industries are growing rapidly in small towns and in post-industrial regions.

This expansion has been partly attributed to technological change and digitisation, partly to:

  • lifestyle choices
  • the re-use and reinvention of older industry and craft traditions
  • local policy support.

Not surprisingly, policy-makers have seized on these findings to argue that creative clusters can act as a tool for regeneration and inclusive growth in struggling towns.

This project would develop a critical examination of these trends and arguments. These debates are beset by many unanswered questions and uncertainties. How do creative clusters vary between different categories of small, peripheral and left-behind towns and do they share common constraints? How strong are growth dynamics in different industries and what is the balance between growth and decline in different sectors and places?

In recent years in the UK, levelling up funds have been spent on revising ‘place imaginaries’, increasing place attachment and stimulating cultural activities. However, there has been little evaluation of whether these activities are both meeting industry needs and boosting inclusive employment.

We are looking for PhD students to co-design a project around this broad topic. Both quantitative and qualitative methods may be used and students are encouraged to develop an approach which reflects their own interests and connections.

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