PhD studentship: Agent-Based Model approach to understanding changes in ethnic relations

An Agent-Based Model approach to understanding changes in ethnic relations: applications to neighbourhood ethnic composition and health.

Applications are invited for a 3-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD Studentship based at CoDE under the supervision of Professor James NazrooDr Laia Bécares, and Dr Nick ShryaneThe project provides a studentship covering UK/EU tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend at Research Council rates (£13,590 in 2012/13), plus the Advanced Quantitative Methods supplement (£3,000 per year) for a total of £16,590Funding will be for three years of full-time study (+3 Scheme), starting in October 2013 with an expected submission date of September 2016.  

Ethnic minority people living in areas with higher concentrations of other ethnic minority residents tend to be healthier, to report higher social cohesion and decreased experiences of racism. Neighbourhood effects on health consist of complex mutually dependent processes in which individuals interact with each other and with their neighbourhoods, and where both individuals and areas adapt and change over time. Incorporating the exploration of the role of ethnicity in the association between place and health adds an extra layer of complexity, involving the interaction between place and ethnicity in the racialisation of both areas and individuals. Recent years have seen a surge of national and international studies examining the association between neighbourhood ethnic composition and health, with a view of understanding the mechanisms by which residential composition impacts on health; however, work to date has been limited to statistical analyses of cross-sectional datasets which aim to isolate area-level from individual-level effects on health, failing to model the dynamic mechanisms by which individuals and areas interact with each other and change over time. Agent-based models provide an innovative way of understanding neighbourhood effects, as they can be used to model the dynamic process related to place and health by examining mechanisms that involve interactions between diverse individuals, and interactions between individuals and environments. Agent-based models also allow for the specification of agents at several levels (individuals, neighbourhoods, and higher-level organisms), providing additional information on how macro-level characteristics influence interactions occurring at the micro-level, and vice versa.

Research Objectives
This PhD project aims to model the dynamic processes related to changes in ethnic relations, and how these play out in terms of area effects on health.
The work is an independent course of enquiry that will add great value to the main aim of the project of understanding of the contemporary patterning of ethnic inequalities and how this relates to the ways in which ethnic identities are perceived, acted upon and experienced. 

Location and Supervision
The PhD will be hosted at the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR), University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is part of the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC), and the student will be based in the Social Statistics accredited pathway. The student will be embedded within the research team at the University of Manchester, and will be supervised by Professor James Nazroo, Dr Laia Bécares and Dr Nick Shryane.

Admissions Criteria
Applicants should hold a minimum upper-second honours degree (or equivalent) in sociology, geography, epidemiology, computational social science, or related area and a Masters-level degree in a relevant discipline. Experience of programming and/or simulation is a plus.

How to apply
Applicants are required to provide: (i) an academic CV; (ii) official academic transcripts; (iii) contact details of two suitable referees; and (iv) a cover letteroutlining your suitability for the study and your research experience to date.
Applications should be emailed to: laia.becares@manchester.ac.uk. The successful candidate will be required to submit a full University of Manchester on-line application, plus supporting documents (two academic references and degree transcripts) to fulfil the normal admissions process.
Any enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Dr Bécares at the address above.

The deadline for applications is April 30th 2013. Candidates may be called for interview in early May 2013.