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The ACC invites applications for a postdoctoral fellowship to support research associated with the PEAK Urban project. The successful candidate will become part of a new global cohort of urban researchers as part of the PEAK Urban project. The ideal candidate will have expertise in urban studies debates, a firm grounding in social science methods, a keen interest in conceptualising and understanding urbanism from a Southern perspective, and a demonstrated ability to engage with comparative and multi-scalar research.

The theme of this post-doctoral fellowship is human settlements and urban morphology in Cape Town South Africa. We use the term ‘urban human settlements’ to refer to the way in which people settle and live in cities. We use the term ‘urban morphology’ in relation to the spatial form and structure of the city. The researcher will be expected to undertake original research which relates to these issues in the context of Cape Town. Identification of the exact research projects and scope of work will be undertaken by the researcher, in collaboration with support and guidance from supervisors at the African Centre for Cities.

The researcher will be expected to:

  • Engage in, document, and analyze key issues in the human settlements sector in Cape Town. This will include attending workshops, tracking trends in housing and infrastructure delivery, tracking budgets and spending on various components of human settlements, conducting interviews, following policy debates and other activities. It is expected that the researcher will actively pursue a well-rounded and multifaceted understanding of the issues surrounding human settlements in the city of Cape Town.
  • Pursue interdisciplinary urban research. The PEAK Urban project is explicitly focused on interdisciplinary research on cities. It is necessary that the applicant demonstrate how their work contributes this agenda. It is expected that the researcher will have some exposure to the current urban debates.

It is not imperative that applicants have previous experience working on Cape Town or on human settlements; however, they will be expected to focus on Cape Town’s human settlements over the duration of the fellowship. We welcome applicants with experience from cities in the Global South.
To further their professional development, successful candidates will be required to participate in, and support the implementation of, international annual summer schools as part of the PEAK Urban project to occur at one of the PEAK Urban partner sites (China, the UK, Colombia or India). The successful candidate will also participate in various other departmental activities.

An opportunity to take part in a three-month internship at another PEAK Urban site at some point during the length of the fellowship is also a possibility, dependent on agreement with other PEAK Urban partners and approval by ACC.

Applicants are expected to have completed a doctoral degree in an area of study relevant to the post (e.g. Geography, Sociology, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Development Studies) within the last five years and have an academic publication and presentation record commensurate with their stage in academic career.

The value of the Fellowship is R300,000 per year, and is renewable for a total of up to three years, depending on satisfactory progress. The fellowship does not include relocation costs or fringe benefits. The incumbent will be provided with a desk and appropriate access rights to use the research facilities of the University of Cape Town.

Applications must be submitted by midday on 25 May 2018 and consist of:
• A letter of application stating areas of expertise, research interests and experience. Please include here information on why you are qualified for this position.
• A short (one page) response to the following prompts:
– How would you describe your approach to urban research?
– What do you find most interesting about the issue of human settlements in Cape Town?
– What are your main academic goals for the next three to five years?
• A CV including a list of publications
• The names and contact details of at least two academics who have taught, supervised or worked alongside the applicant as referees

Eligible and complete applications will be considered by the Director of the African Centre for Cities and a sub-committee.

Closing date for applications: Midday, 25 May 2018.

Please submit your application in one PDF file to Liza Cirolia, African Centre for Cities via email to The subject line of the e-mail should be “PEAK Postdoc” and the name of the PDF file should include your last name.

For enquiries regarding the position please contact Liza Cirolia at:

The African Centre for Cities (ACC) was established in 2007 at the University of Cape Town as an urban research institute. The ACC is based in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, but is interdisciplinary in its scope, drawing expertise on urban issues from across the university. The mission of the ACC is to “facilitate critical urban research and policy discourse for the promotion of vibrant, democratic and sustainable urban development across the global South”.