PhD Studentship: Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership- Development Policy and Practice Pathway- Studentship with Christian Aid

Open University - Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS)

The Grand Union DTP and its pathways
The Grand Union DTP is an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership uniting The Open University, the University of Oxford and Brunel University London. The partnership builds on the recognised research and doctoral training strengths of all three institutions.  The DTP covers 24 subject areas (‘pathways’).

This studentship is offered as part of the Development Policy and Practice pathway at the Open University. The distinctiveness of this pathway is generated by the professional knowledge of its student cohort, together with its focus on innovation and policy- and practice-relevant research. Students benefit from a rich and diverse research environment encompassing the social, economic, political and technological aspects of international development and inclusive innovation. Students will have access to academics in the Development Policy and Practice Group, the inter-faculty Innovation, Knowledge and Development Centre as well as the priority research area in International Development and Inclusive Innovation, all with strong links to external networks.

Studentship in ‘Critical perspectives on building research capacity in the global south’

This PhD studentship has been co-created between Christian Aid (Centre for Excellence in Research, Evidence and Learning) and the Open University to help understand more deeply the question of research capacity. It will seek to explore what it means to strengthen research capacity in the global south and questions who could be involved in strengthening research capacity.  Questions include: is there an assumption about uni-directional capacity development from the global north to the global south? How can existing research capacity within a country be identified? What does research capacity mean in different contexts? Where does capacity reside and what does it look like? How do national knowledge eco-systems function and interact with global systems?  Would a deeper understanding of research capacity help reduce the inequalities that exist in how knowledge production is conceived globally?  What would a mutual or equitable approach to research capacity development look like, and what would need to change for this to be possible? How can research capacity be better understood and operationalised as a dynamic, sustainable concept and process?

The doctoral student will be based at The Open University in Milton Keynes. Christian Aid will facilitate office space as required and links to its offices in the global south, as well as the possibility of an internship.

Applying for the studentship
The studentship is for 3 years full-time (fully funded) or 6 years part-time (50% funded). If part-time, applicants need to be able to commit 50% of their time to the PhD. Please note that for this studentship, applicants need either to have gained an MRes or have equivalent research training and experience.

For pre-submission enquiries, prospective applicants may write to Professor Hazel Johnson, Professor of Development Policy & Practice, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at

Completed application forms, together with a Research Proposal and a covering letter indicating your suitability and reasons for applying must be sent to

Application forms are available from

Full information on the studentship, criteria for eligibility, funding support and how to apply can be found here:

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