Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Rongrong Yu

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
05 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
No project stipend available

About this project

Harness virtual technology to address sustainable urban planning

If you are seeking to advance your career in urban planning and keen to harness innovative technologies to tackle urban development challenges, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD with community impact within the UniSA Creative Unit.

This project aims to develop a method that uses immersive virtual reality environments (ImVE), to allow the public to engage in decision­making processes for sustainable urban planning/development, based on space syntax analysis. Space syntax analysis reveals spatial characteristics based on the mathematical analysis of urban forms, facilitating data-driven and evidence­based urban planning decision­making.

In recent years, ImVE have been increasingly applied in design and planning, enabling planners to immerse themselves into built environments via data visualisation, allowing participants to experience higher levels of engagement, make abstract policies more concrete and understandable, and increase the satisfaction associated with the decision-making process with reduced stress. 

Currently, we don’t have an efficient method to enable public engagement in the decision­making processes for urban development in ImVE based on spatial analysis of urban forms. We aim to develop a method that will be validated via a participatory planning experiment that addresses selected planning/development issues of a case study. 

This project will contribute new knowledge to the areas of urban planning, space syntax, and design cognition and the method developed from this study could be generalised and further applied to a range of urban development issues related to urban forms. Our project findings will benefit policymakers, government sectors, and developers/planners alike.

You will be jointly based at the UniSA Creative Unit and the Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments (IVE). IVE has over 100 members across computer science, engineering, design, architecture, and art, providing you with a stimulating and intellectual learning environment. You will gain exclusive access to IVE’s world-class facilities, including a physiological sensing laboratory, computer labs, a vast selection of advanced Human Computer Interaction (HCI) devices, and an immersive CAVE system.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will independently conduct the research project, including develop a literature review and research design, develop the ImVE environment, set up and conduct the participatory planning experiments, collect and analyse data, interpret research results and develop academic publications. You will conduct field work for the selected case study areas, to collect necessary data. 

Upon completion of the research project, you will be capable of conducting independent research in the related fields, including urban planning and computational design. You will also have strong skills in and knowledge of various research methods, spatial syntax analysis, VR techniques, and statistical analysis methods.

There are opportunities for you to attend relevant international conferences, to build your research network and promote your research.

Engagement with government sectors will also provide you with extended connections. Your skills and expertise will position you well for a successful academic career internationally, a research position at research institutes, an industry career path in architectural and planning sectors, or relevant government positions (e.g., at a city council).

Where you’ll be based

You will be based within the UniSA Creative Unit, incorporating the South Australian School of Art, which brings together the disciplines of architecture, planning, art and design, journalism, communication and media, film and television and the creative industries to produce flexible graduates with multidisciplinary capabilities.

Creativity is at our core. Students learn by doing, crafting in specialist studios, constructing in purpose-built production facilities, always working with the latest technology. Our research explores the complexities of the world around us. We engage in future-focused, cross-disciplinary research and consultancy to produce inspired solutions that are human-centred and sustainable.  

UniSA provides a platform for emerging and established creatives in its three major galleries. Visit the Samstag Museum, SASA Gallery or MOD. to see interactive exhibitions and contemporary works by artists, researchers, storytellers and designers, both local and international. We’re a catalyst for brilliance. A place where you can think critically and creatively, glimpse the future and engage with true originals. The creative economy isn’t slowing down, and neither should you.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses but there is no stipend available. A tuition fee waiver for the standard term of the program is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Additionally, any Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicant who holds an offer of admission without a living allowance will be eligible for the Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship. This scholarship is to the value of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). Any Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship recipient will also receive a fee waiver. Where an international applicant holds an external scholarship or sponsorship a full or partial fee waiver may apply in some circumstances for exceptional applicants. Other international applicants will be required to pay full tuition fees of approximately AUD$34,300 per annum (2023 rates).  

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from both domestic and international applicants. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. 

Applicants should also submit a full research proposal (approximately 2500 words) that has been developed in consultation with the proposed principal supervisor. A template to help guide this application is available here.

Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria: 
  • Hold a Master of Architecture, Master of Urban Planning or an equivalent degree from a related design discipline
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City West campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Sunday 5 February 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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