Fire Safety in Practice: Making Residents Safe in Camden Council

Working in close cooperation with Camden Council, this studentship will investigate how to address concerns about fire safety in social housing following the Grenfell Tower fire. How can the promise of Camden Council leader Georgia Gould for ‘a more thorough and transparent approach to fire safety that fully involves our residents’ be fulfilled? And what approaches can be used to implement the commitment made by Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd, following the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, ‘to ensure that people in similar buildings are safe and, feel safe, in their homes’? The research will thus need to investigate what ‘safety’ means with regard to fire risks in social housing, and look at ways in which safety can be measured, monitored, and improved.


The research is expected to draw on theoretical perspectives from Science and Technology Studies that can offer insights into the role of expertise in regulation, the challenges of defining and following rules, risk perception and analysis, and the extent to which lay knowledge and expert knowledge can be integrated. The student will work with the Council’s Director of Resident Safety with three three-month periods in residence at Camden Council. This time will be devoted to specific tasks that will form key elements of the PhD thesis whilst also comprising immediately relevant deliverables for the Council’s day-to-day activities. Six-monthly progress meetings will be held that will involve the student, supervisors, and Camden Council, with the aim ensuring the generation and dissemination of interdisciplinary approaches to improving fire safety in social housing.


Main supervisors: Professor Robin Williams, Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh; Dr Graham Spinardi, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Co-supervisors: Professor Luke Bisby and Dr Angus Law, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh.

Host institution: University of Edinburgh. Although working closely with the fire safety group in the School of Engineering, this studentship will be based in the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject area of the School of Social and Political Science where you will be part of a community of researchers and students studying an eclectic range of science and technology issues. The studentship will also involve three three-monthly periods in residence at Camden Council.

Further Information: 

There are two application processes that you must complete at the same time to be considered for this studentship. These are the ‘studentship application’, which is specific to this project, and the ‘PhD application’, which must be completed by anyone wanting to pursue a PhD at the University of Edinburgh.

  1. PhD applications follow the procedures described on the following web pages, and will require two academic references, and a PhD proposal. For the PhD proposal please explain how you would go about developing the project described above in 1,000-1,500 words. The deadline for completion is 25 May 2018. Please visit the School of Political Science website for further information on our application requirements, and the School's PhD Programme page for further information about our PhD programme. For further guidance on the PhD application process please write to the STIS Postgraduate Admissions Advisor
  2. Studentship applications are to be sent to Graham Spinardi ( They should include the PhD proposal and a CV. Please ensure you send your application to Dr Spinardi by 25 May 2018. If you have any questions on the studentship please contact Dr Spinardi directly.

Closing Date: 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

We are particularly keen to receive applications from candidates with a strong background in Science and Technology Studies (or a related social science discipline), Fire Safety Engineering, or other safety related disciplines. As the majority of the planned research is qualitative, an interest in learning and using these methods is essential. It is also important to have an interest in producing impact beyond academia through the engagement with stakeholders and other research users in governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Please check to see if you are eligible to receive this award (


Fully funded ESRC collaborative studentship.  An applicant must be a United Kingdom citizen or be a resident of another European Union country in all subject areas. European Union applicants who have not been resident in the UK for the last three (3) years before the start of their studentship are only eligible for a fees-only award.  

Please see for more eligibility details -

Further information and other funding options.