Developments in experimental design for stated choice surveys and alternative preference elicitation procedures


Contact Professor Stephane Hess to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

The analysis of travel behaviour requires as its main input data on travel decisions (choices) made by individual respondents. However, in many situations, data on real world choices is either not available or is not suitable for the purposes of the proposed analysis. As a result, an increasing number of studies rely on data collected through surveys which present respondents with hypothetical choice scenarios. Data from such stated preference (SP) surveys are used not only in academic work but also form the backbone of many studies advising policy makers in scenarios as wide ranging as the building of new roads, the introduction of road pricing or the investment in new rolling stock.

The majority of work using SP methods now makes use of stated choice (SC) surveys, in which respondents are asked to choose their most preferred option amongst a set of mutually exclusive alternatives. Approaches such as ranking or rating exercises have been largely discredited in a transport context, as have transfer price methods, which aim to directly obtain the willingness by respondents to pay for developments or improvements. However, outside a transport environment, these methods are experiencing a renaissance, and new developments, such as best-worst, a halfway measure between choice and full ranking, are gaining in popularity. At the same time, in transport and elsewhere, researchers are constantly devising new methods to improve the efficiency of the various available survey techniques. The net outcome is that there is substantial confusion at the user end, with practitioners often unsure which approach would be most applicable in their given context.

The aim of this PhD project would be to conduct an in depth comparison of the different available methods, highlighting which approaches are most adequate in what context. Additionally, the work would look at the potential for combining various existing methods. Finally, where appropriate, further methodological developments would be made.

Recommended reading:

Louviere, J.J., Hensher, D.A. and Swait, J.D. (2000) Stated Choice Methods: Analysis and Application. Cambridge University Press.

PTRC (2000) Stated Preference Modelling Techniques. A compilation of major papers from PTRC’s meeting and conference material. Edited by J de D Ortuzar. PTRC, London.

Key benefits

This project is open to self-financing students and may be eligible for funding through University or external research bodies. Browse through our funding schemes listings to find a suitable scholarship for this project.

Entry requirements

Applicants are invited from candidates with or expecting a first or upper second class honours degree or equivalent, preferably in a quantitative discipline. A Master's degree (not necessarily in transport) may be advantageous but is not essential. 

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University's minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Developments in experimental design for stated choice surveys and alternative preference elicitation procedures' as well as Professor Stephane Hess as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office e:, t: +44 (0)113 34 35326.