A lady waiting for a bus

Designing and Testing Safer Public Transport for Women

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – up to four years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2024

Interview dates: Details will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2024 

For queries please contact Dr Arun Ulahannan 

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The Trailblazer PhD studentships have been devised and developed by leading early-career researchers at Coventry University.


"UK public transport is failing women." 55% of women report feeling unsafe on public transport, and cases of Violence Against Women and Girls have risen. This PhD aims to take the first key step to change this and we are looking for a motivated, passionate individual with a keen interest in practical, impactful research to join us for this PhD studentship.

Project details

This 3.5-year doctorate, supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, will aim to design safer and more inclusive public transport for women. You will have access to the cutting-edge facilities at the National Transport Design Centre and the Centre for Healthcare and Communities. You will also work with leading researchers and industrial designers to research, design and test your work in the real world. What's more, you will collaborate with both UK and European gender-design experts through the supervisory teams’ extensive network.

Your supervisory team will consist of Dr Arun Ulahannan, Assistant Professor in User Research and Human Factors design with expertise in transport design across a range of international projects and host of the chart-topping How to PhD podcast; Chartered Psychologist and Research Fellow, Dr Grace Carter, an internationally recognised expert in trauma, violence, and abuse; and Professor Stewart Birrell, one of the leading human factors experts.

This is a unique opportunity to contribute to a hugely important field and make an influence on society, whilst being supported by the local transport authority and world-leading multi-disciplinary researchers.

This is a user research project which can involve a wide-range of qualitative or quantitative methods, depending on your experience. Therefore, we welcome applications from all research backgrounds


This is a fully-funded studentship, including tuition fees and stipend/bursary.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.


  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years.
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS academic overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Arun Ulahannan 

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

This project welcomes all research backgrounds and combines design/user research/engineering.

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