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PhD studentship on Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)

Analysing activity-travel behaviour and its application to on-demand multi-modal mobility solutions in cities


Monday, 19 August 2019 at 5pm BST.


Interviews will take place on Thursday, 29 August 2019 in Manchester or via Skype. 

Studentship funding

This full-time three year PhD studentship, starting in September 2019, is fully funded by the NWSSDTP at The University of Manchester. The studentship covers academic fees, provides an annual Maintenance Stipend (£15,009) and access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) for reimbursement of research related expenses including, but not limited to: conference attendance, training courses and UK fieldwork.

As a doctoral candidate, you will be part of the Manchester Urban Institute’s Spatial Policy and Analysis Lab in the Department of Planning and Environmental Management. There will also be opportunities to contribute to current teaching programmes by working as a Teaching Assistant on urban planning related modules. 


Prof Richard Kingston and Dr Ransford Acheampong 

Project description

New mobility systems are emerging to offer commuters tailored solutions based on their travel needs, while mitigating the negative societal impacts of transportation such as congestion and C02 emissions. Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas) seeks to provide integrated mobility solutions, which combine transportation services across different modes. Under a MaaS system, people can travel by combining available transport options in the city. For example, from a unified service booking and payment platform, an individual, based on their travel needs, would be able to seamlessly choose a combination of bicycling, car-sharing and public transport to complete a single trip.

The aforementioned characteristics of MaaS present a number of challenges for its implementation and operation in cities. Paramount among these challenges is how to create realistic MaaS plans to cater for the heterogeneous mobility needs of diverse groups of would-be users.

A firm understanding of the activity-travel behaviour of individuals is, therefore, critical to the successful implementation of MaaS. Yet, to-date, the handful of empirical research on MaaS systems design, user acceptance and business models do not fully capture the complex decision-making processes underlying peoples’ mobility patterns and choices. Doing so, however, is crucial because successful MaaS business models will depend primarily on the extent to which the new on-demand mobility services are responsive to the daily travel needs of different groups of people, which, in turn, will determine whether or not they accept to use the services. 

This research project will fill these gaps in the literature by integrating activity-travel behaviour analysis with MaaS design and implementation strategies. 

Under this project, the PhD candidate will:

  1. Analyse and visualise activity-travel behaviours, using an existing large dataset on multi-day travel-diary entries and GPS records of travel;
  2. Construct profiles of heterogeneous travel needs and plans, based on the activity-trip chaining behaviour and the socio-demographic characteristics of the travellers;
  3. Explore preferences for MaaS bundles among the population through a stated choice experiment; and
  4. Develop a typology of MaaS design and implementation strategies based on individuals’ activity-travel needs and stated preferences for MaaS bundles. 

Person specification

We are looking for an outstanding PhD candidate for this research who must have strong analytical skills and knowledge and experience in quantitative data and geospatial data analysis, acquired through relevant postgraduate training.

With this foundational knowledge, additional research training will be available to support: advanced quantitative research methods and geospatial ‘big-data’ analysis and visualisation techniques.

We would welcome previous experience of working in a quantitative research context and any relevant GIS and spatial analysis skills. Previous experience in survey design and data collection is also desirable, as the project will involve a stated preference survey. 

Eligibility criteria


In the majority of cases, candidates will have undertaken an undergraduate course and/or Master’s course at a recognised UK higher education institution. However, some may have qualifications from outside the UK, or be able to offer a combination of qualifications and/or experience. In both cases, it will be necessary to ascertain whether these qualifications can be equated to an honours degree, and at what level. The ESRC bases its assessments of qualifications attained outside the UK on the British Council’s NARIC guide. For non-UK qualifications transcripts in English as well as details in the original language must be provided with the application form.

A Master degree at Merit minimum with a minimum grade of 65% in the dissertation and a minimum taught average grade of 65% (or international equivalent). 


Candidates must satisfy residential eligibility requirements (see below) and be eligible for Home-fee status.

English language

Candidates whose first language is not English require one of the following certificates:

  • IELTS test minimum scores - 7 overall, 7 writing, 6 other sections
  • TOEFL (internet based) test minimum scores - 100 overall, 25 writing, 22 other sections
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) minimum scores - 66 overall, 66 writing, 59 other sections 


The application deadline for this studentship will be Monday 19August 2019 at 5pm BST.  All supporting documents must be received by the deadline and sent as a zip file to , using ‘Mobility-as-a-Service’ as the email subject.

The application must include:

  • Full CV
  • Personal statement of no more than 700 words indicating why you would like to undertake this studentship award and explaining how your focus links to the research outlined above. Please include information of your relevant work or research experience and any technical/quantitative skills.
  • Example of a piece of academic writing produced by the applicant of up to 5,000 words. (Applicants may consider submitting two shorter pieces if these deal separately with conceptual and empirical analyses). This may be an academic essay or a chapter(s) from a master's dissertation or, in which case, an abstract or introduction outlining the context/aims/research questions of the study must also be included.
  • Names and contact details of two academic referees who can comment on the applicant’s suitability for PhD study and to undertake the advertised project. 

Further information

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact Prof Richard Kingston ( or Dr Ransford Acheampong ( 

Residential eligibility

The legal basis for defining residence eligibility for postgraduate training awards is set down in the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 1991. The guidance below is based on the Regulations and on guidance produced by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES):

Candidates for awards must have a relevant connection with the United Kingdom. A relevant connection may be established if, at the start of the course:

  • The student has been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three-year period preceding the date of application for an award, and
  • Has not been resident in the UK, during any part of that three-year period wholly or mainly for the purposes of full-time education (EU students – see below) and
  • Has settled status in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (i.e. is not subject to any restriction on the period for which he/she may stay).

Candidates who meet all three of the above criteria may apply for a full award.

A relevant connection may be established for an EU student if the student has been resident in the UK throughout the 3-year period preceding the start of the course, even if for purposes of full-time education. EU students in this situation may apply for a full award. EU Students who have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years may apply for a fees only award.

Non-EU students who have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years are not eligible to apply.

For more information on residential eligibility please see the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide