Project code



School of Architecture

Start dates

October, February and April

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Architecture and will be supervised by Dr Rokhshid Ghaziani.

The work on this project will:

  • Investigate the importance of various biophilic design patterns in schools based on young people’s views using qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Evaluate the relationship between patterns of biophilia, the pathways to nature connectedness and the ‘teenage dip’.
  • Compare different age cohorts as they progress from primary to secondary education and the potential ‘teenage dip’.
  • Work directly with internationally regarded experts and scholars in Architecture, and Health & Wellbeing.

Nature connectedness, the sensation of belonging to a wider natural community (Mayer et al., 2009) has been related to both improved hedonic and eudemonic wellbeing (Pritchard et al., 2019) across the lifespan and increased pro-nature behaviour (Mackay & Schmitt, 2019). However, while nature connectedness increases during childhood, research has shown a dramatic decline (around 30%) during adolescence. This is known as the teenage dip, with such connectedness only recovering in mid-adulthood (Hughes et al., 2019). 

The ‘dip’ is particularly concerning given the proven links between nature connectedness, lifelong wellbeing, the likelihood of pro-nature behaviour (Richardson et al., 2019) and mental health in adolescence (Piccininni et al., 2018). Addressing the teenage dip through an evidenced-based approach with activities structured around the senses, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty (known as the Pathways Framework, Lumber et al., 2017) has been demonstrated to improve wellbeing (Richardson et al., 2021) and pro-nature behaviours (Richardson et al., 2020) across the lifespan. 

Access to biophilic designed learning spaces in support these activities may be one way to help foster a reconnection with nature e.g. through Forest Schools (Cudworth & Lumber, 2021).  The application of biophilia in school design and its impact on young people’s well-being remains unexplored. Biophilic design patterns (Ryan et al, 2012; Browning et al, 2014) can be used in schools for greater connectivity between indoor spaces and nature (direct and indirect interaction) and for outdoor spaces to enhance young people’s well-being.

This project will explore how biophilia (affinity with nature) can be realised through school design and pedagogic activity.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK students only).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in and art or design subject or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.



How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Rokhshid Ghaziani ( o discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Architecture, Interiors and Urbanism PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code ARCH4580424.