Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies

Anja McCarthy

Anja McCarthy

Your postgraduate research

I’m doing a PhD in Human Geography. I'm looking at the changing shape of the local state and its institutional arrangements. 

This is in relation to the broadening field of economic development and regeneration. 

I gained an ESRC Collaborative Studentship and my partner is Newcastle City Council.

For my project I will be:

  • reviewing new theories on local state in context of new approaches to economic development and policy
  • identifying new forms of institution, governance arrangements and policy in an international context
  • mapping actors and explaining 
    • structures
    • roles
    • strategies
    • relationships
    • processes

involved in economic development for the case area and comparative international case studies

  • developing analytical frameworks able to assess the effectiveness of the new approaches

This is timely research given the changing context and new challenges for local authorities and cities.

Choosing CURDS

CURDS are renowned for their research expertise and policy relevance worldwide. They have a strong track record in the area I am researching.

I was already familiar with CURDS, having studied the MA in Local and Regional Development here. I've also worked with them through my previous roles in regional development. I knew that it would be a rewarding experience to be part of the CURDS team.

The support and guidance I received from my supervisors has been invaluable. They've also helped me in thinking about how I could utilise my skills through my project. 

The strong links CURDS have within the region paved the way for my collaborative studentship with Newcastle City Council.

Academic and career history

Before enrolling on the PhD, I spent eight years working in research and strategy roles. I worked for the Regional Development Agency for North East England. 

During this time, I completed a MA in Local and Regional Development (taught programme) at CURDS, part-time over two years. My undergraduate degree was in International Business Administration at Northumbria University.

Studying with CURDS

CURDS offers a friendly and supportive environment. Peer support comes through postgraduate presentations and reading groups.

I like the opportunities to get involved in taking work-related projects forward. CURDS work on a wide range of projects with partners at the local, regional, national and international level. 

Academics are proactive in involving you, either in the research or through discussion sessions. 

This helps me to ground my research in the policy context. It also provides me with experience of working with different partners on research.

There are seminars from visiting scholars, which are useful in broadening your research interests.

Student life at Newcastle University

As a PhD student, you get a new laptop, a desk and lockable storage facilities in the post graduate office. 

The office is a good working environment. it’s helpful to be with students at different stages of their projects. 

There is always someone to ask about things you are unsure of and also to help settle you in.

The library is good. I’ve found the Liaison Assistant for Geography helpful in assisting me to track down sources and references.

Living in Newcastle

I particularly enjoy the compactness of the city; it’s easy to walk everywhere. Also, the green spaces and parks and the ease of getting out of the city to the coast and countryside are really appealing.