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Virtual Reality in Cycling Safety: Examining cyclists’ safety perception in Australia and the UK

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

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

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 31 August 2022

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2023

For further details contact: Dr. William Payre 


Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship. This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. This is a fully funded doctorate for 3.5 years in duration, with tuition fees covered and bursary / stipend paid. The successful applicant will spend 2 years at Deakin and 1 year at Coventry, with a supervision team drawn from the two Universities. This is a unique opportunity to conduct doctorate level research at two leading international Universities. Costs associated with travel between the UK and Australia are covered by the programme.

Project Details

This project and scholarship are offered as part of a collaborative doctoral cotutelle program between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK). The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by a team of leading researchers from Deakin University and Coventry University and will graduate with a jointly supervised doctoral degree from each institution. The program is for a duration of 3.5 years. It is anticipated that the PhD candidate will spend at least 1 year during the program at Coventry University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

The PhD scholar will have access to the world class research facilities of both universities and work under joint supervision of an expert supervisory team (A/Prof Ashim Debnath and Prof Ben Horan from Deakin University; Dr William Payre and Prof Stewart Birrell from Coventry University). This collaborative arrangement offers a unique research strength that data and resources from two different institutes and study contexts could be accessed for comparative analysis in this PhD research project.

Innovations in cycling infrastructure design and planning are being made across the world, including adoption of the innovative designs for encouraging greater cycling participation and improving the safety of cyclists. Previous research indicated that cyclists’ perception of safety at different types of infrastructure and their innovative designs influence cycling behaviour and how these infrastructures are utilised. With the recent changes in cycling behaviour and influx of various new cycling infrastructure in Australia and the UK, inspired by the changes in travel needs in the COVID environment, it is of vital importance that cyclists’ safety perception at these new infrastructure types are well understood. Such an understanding will provide the valuable information for improving the utilisation rates of these infrastructures as well as to better inform the planning of such infrastructure in the future, with the integration of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) and micro-mobility users to existing motorised traffic scenarios.

Different traffic scenarios will be simulated using the state-of-the-art Virtual Reality (VR) facilities of Deakin University and Coventry University. Using data and case studies from the UK and Australia, a range of experimental studies will be developed in this research to derive understanding on cyclists’ safety perception. The experimental data will be analysed using advanced statistical and econometric methods. This project will provide the PhD scholar to develop expert skills in several areas, including VR, experimental design, advanced data analytics, and design and planning of cycling infrastructures.


This scholarship is supported by Deakin University, is available over 3 years and includes:

  • Stipend of $28,900 per annum tax exempt (2022 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
  • Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years.
  • Funding to support travel of PhD Student between Deakin University and Coventry University.


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 (second class honours upper division) in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average, or
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 70%.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).
  • be either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Coventry university, including English language proficiency requirements
  • be able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)
Additional requirements

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (England) and Deakin University (Australia) and will spend:

  • The 1st Year at Deakin  University;
  • The 2nd Year at Coventry University;
  • The final 3rd ½ Year at Deakin University.

What is the application process?

Applications are submitted to both institutions. Applicants must ensure they meet eligibility requirements. Selection involves academic staff from both institutions. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel including academic staff from each institution. Applicants will need to submit copies of certificates to both institutions in line with their respective requirements.

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