PhD Studentship: Is there a Social Impact Resulting from Driven Game Shooting in the UK

University of Northampton

Pay and Expenses: £15,000 p.a. (including £1,000 research expenses) and tuition fees for 3 years. The award also covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate only; those not eligible to pay UK/EU tuition fees must demonstrate that they can fund the difference.

Overview: Field sports including the shooting of driven game are cumulatively estimated to be worth at least £2bn to the UK economy and £155m in Scotland alone. The embedded nature of such activities in the rural economy provides resilience for land managers in the face of dynamic times for farming in a post-BREXIT world. Despite polarising opinions, two-thirds of the British landscape is actively managed for country sports, with some 2 million hectares specifically for shooting. Access to the multi-functional fabric of the countryside delivers a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for rural communities. If access to quality green space potentially saves the NHS around £2.1 billion in health care costs (Natural England 2009), there is an exigent requirement to encourage people to better connect with their local environment.

Rural communities historically participate in driven game shoots in various ways including the ‘guns’, themselves, but also as beaters, game-keepers, volunteers and spectators. In these roles, they may derive facets of physical, social and mental well-being. The only national survey of its type PACEC (2014) found that virtually all respondents felt strongly that field sports shooting contributed positively to their health and wellbeing. The natural capital deployed in this domain suggests that field sports could act to deliver social impact to people and communities. Therefore, to provide a lens for scrutinising the wider social impact of driven game shooting, an inter-disciplinary study will be undertaken. This research will:

  • Evaluate the social impact of driven game shooting on people and local communities. Specifically, in relation to their:
    • health and well-being (including self-efficacy)
    • educational development
    • economic circumstances
    • social and community capital

Partners: The project team have consulted ‘The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’ who believe it will add a significant new dimension to our understanding of this area. The study also has preliminary support from the BASC, and over 40 owners of estates and shoots.

Applications: Applicants must have

  • a first degree (first, upper second or equivalent) or Master’s degree in a relevant subject;
  • excellent oral and written English skills;
  • experience in conducting research, including research methods training;
  • The ability to travel to rural outdoor sites;
  • knowledge of the field sports sector;
  • a good degree of physical fitness as the fieldwork will involve data gathering with people that are walking long distances over difficult terrain, and
  • the confidence, assertiveness and resilience to cope with the demands of a PhD project.

Interviews: 27 November 2017

Start date: TBC 2018

Informal enquiries: Email Professor Simon Denny or Professor Richard Hazenberg

Apply online using the keyword ‘UN17FIELD’

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England