Urban Planning and Design


The PhD in Urban Planning and Design is managed through collaboration between Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and the University of Liverpool. Students in this programme are formally registered with the University of Liverpool as off-site postgraduate research students. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will receive a University of Liverpool-issued degree, which is recognised by China’s Ministry of Education.

The programme uses the theme of “sustainable revitalisation” to demonstrate its research value and impact. Our academic staff have a broad range of research interests and are happy to discuss possible research ideas. PhD students will undertake original research, advance scholarship, and generate new knowledge in the field.

The Design School aims to undertake research at the forefront of the discipline, and prepare graduates for future careers in academia and beyond. Graduates are expected to surpass known knowledge and become leaders in their research areas.

As a PhD student, you will carry out research at XJTLU under supervision. You will have a designated principal supervisor at XJTLU who is a full-time academic staff member. In addition, you will have a designated co-supervisor based at the University of Liverpool.

Pursuing a full-time PhD typically involves three years of conducting research and one year of writing a thesis, supported by subject-specific and general skills training and development. A full-time PhD student must submit their thesis within four years (or six years for part-time PhD students).

Why should I do my PhD in Urban Planning and Design at XJTLU?

Key benefits of This PhD programme:

  • The PhD degree is awarded by the University of Liverpool in the UK. The degree is recognised by the UK Department of Education as well as China’s Ministry of Education;
  • Our PhD programme equips you with a range of general skills to maximise future employability;
  • You will be supervised by respected academics at both XJTLU and the University of Liverpool;
  • As a registered full-time PhD student, you will have the opportunity to apply for a research visit to the University of Liverpool. You will also have travel budgets for participating in international conferences;
  • You will be able to transfer knowledge to others, develop effective lectures, design course materials, and learn how to apply for research funding and work in research teams.

Upon successful completion of the programme, you should be able to:

  • work as an independent researcher;
  • undertake research at an advanced level;
  • understand research integrity and ethics;
  • develop new ideas, techniques or approaches;
  • conceptualise, design and implement a research project;
  • evaluate the existing literature relevant to your thesis topic;
  • understand PhD research in the context of urban planning and design and beyond;
  • relate theory and concepts to evidence in a systematic way, and draw conclusions based on evidence;
  • recognise your research impact and help more people understand an issue better than they had before; and
  • manage a research project effectively, from identifying research questions, planning interim milestones and timescale, to prioritising activities, managing research resources and timely completion.

Research areas

  • infrastructure
  • rural revitalisation
  • urban regeneration
  • transport and city planning
  • smart cities and technology
  • landscape and urban design
  • environment and public health
  • planning, governance and politics
  • territorial development and restricting
  • real estate, economic development and regeneration

Research environment and facilities

The Department of Urban Planning and Design encourages multi-disciplinary approaches. We encourage students to explore academic enquiries and applicable research methods including quantitative, qualitative, and research-by-design. We also organise PhD seminars regularly to create an active research environment.

We work closely with the University Research Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, and our PhD students will be involved in real-world studies in sustainable urban and environmental development.

There are two workshops in the department, offering technical support on large-scale plotters and scanners, laser cutters, paper trimmers, hot wire foam cutters, DJI drones, multiple tools that go with workbenches and so on. PhD students will also have their own offices in the department.

The ongoing PhD projects can be found here.

Potential supervisors

Find out potential supervisors from

Design School – Department of Urban Planning and Design.


The scholarship application is only open to those applying for a full-time doctoral programme.

Apply for a scholarship for a Funded PhD project:

You can apply for a predefined PhD project which has received funds from the University or external funding bodies. The research topic and supervisory team for these projects have already been established.

There is no specific application deadline for each project as they will remain open for applications until the position is filled. The start date of a PhD programme is usually the first day of March, June, September, or December. You can visit the Postgraduate Research Scholarships Page for information about the specific PhD projects available or contact potential supervisors to discuss funding opportunities.

Apply for a scholarship with your own project:

Each academic year includes two application rounds for PhD candidates’ proposed projects.

Application Rounds Application deadline Release of results
First Round 17:00 CST(UTC+8), 15 October End of December
Second Round 17:00 CST(UTC+8), 15 April Early July
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