PhD Studentship: Electoral Registration in Britain: Inequality, Reform and the Prospects for Automatic Registration

The University of Manchester - Politics

Participation in elections is a two stage process, requiring eligible individuals to register before they can exercise their most fundamental civic duty and right: vote. While overall trends for falling turnout are studied extensively, lower levels of registration among certain social groups remains under-studied. Since registration is a pre-requisite to voting, it is particularly alarming that patterns of under-registration concentrate among certain already disadvantaged and alienated groups.

The electoral registration rules have recently changed from household registration to the individual registration (IER) to improve the accuracy and completeness of the Electoral Registers, yet there are worries that some groups may have been impacted negatively by stricter registration rules as has been well documented in the USA (Hanmer 2007, Timpone 2002). How the current reform worked on a practical level for those currently marginalised in the British society will be at the heart of this project.

Equally, while political inequality and alienation is a major factor, so is the seemingly outdated format of voluntary registration that the UK employs. Most European countries employ automatic voter registration and some form of this has been recommended by the Electoral Commission. Placing UK’s electoral registration rules within a wider international context is a crucially important step to reforming the system, as other countries might offer lessons from their different procedures that shed light on the relationship with inequalities and attitudes of trust.


-              assess the impact of the new registration system on vulnerable social groups, using the Electoral Registers,

-              assess the relationship between registration rules and social inequalities and political trust and other relevant attitudes nationally in the UK,

-              extend this to an international comparison, drawing lessons for the recommended move to automatic voter registration.

Data and Methods

The student will use the Electoral Registers and large surveys such as the British Election Study, Understanding Society, European Social Survey to investigate these issues. The PhD therefore will be quantitative - relevant training will be provided, however some experience in quantitative research methods will be an advantage.

Studentship: Full tuition fees plus annual maintenance stipend (currently £14,553). The candidate will be supervised by Dr Maria Sobolewska (Politics department). The studentship will be for either 1+3 (Masters followed by PhD) or +3 (PhD), depending on academic background of the candidate. Continuation of the award is subject to satisfactory performance.

Entry requirements: Bachelors 1st Class or 2:1 Honours UK degree in a relevant social science discipline. For PhD entry applicants must also have/expected to gain a UK Master’s degree (or equivalent) at merit level, including 65% taught course average, 65% overall average, 65% in dissertation and no mark below 55%. 


Deadline: 26th January 2018

Interviews will be conducted in Manchester:  5th February 2018  

Applications should be sent to Dr Maria Sobolewska, and should include:

-              A complete CV, including details of module grades (undergraduate and postgraduate).

-              A letter of application setting out: why this project is a good match for you and why you are interested in pursuing a MA+PhD/PhD, and in particular why a CASE studentship is right for you.

-              Before applying, candidates MUST check that they satisfy the ESRC UK residential criteria to qualify for this studentship.  See;

The successful candidate will need to submit the normal University of Manchester application to fulfil admissions requirements.

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



Northern England