ESRC Co-funded/Collaborative Research Studentships: 2018 entry

University College London – UCL, Bloomsbury and East London Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

Eight Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 1+3/+3/+4 studentships are available at one of the largest DTPs in the UK for projects involving non-academic partners.

Interested candidates are asked to use the details provided under individual projects for information on how to apply. Deadlines for applications vary according to project from early February to early March 2018.

1. New forms of data for urban modelling (with Arup PLC)

There is now an abundance of data capturing human behaviour within cities. These data are drawn from a range of near real-time sources that include travel card usage, social media postings and traffic sensors. As data availability and the sophistication so called “smart city” technology continues to increase, the analytical approaches deployed for extracting information are lagging behind. This is due to both a skills shortage of appropriately trained researchers as well as the requirement for new computational techniques such as those from machine learning and artificial intelligence developed within statistics or computer science. It is these analytical advances that will benefit most from insights from the social sciences and, as such, form the focus of the proposed PhD project. The over-arching aim of the research, therefore, is to assess the utility of new forms of data for improved urban models. Specifically the focus of the research will be on the creation of robust heuristics for the cleaning and analysis of a range of real-time data feeds in order that the resulting data can be used to both improve and cross-validate widely adopted urban transportation models. It is anticipated that the project’s findings will enable more evidence-based decisions to be made on urban issues, particularly mobility, in order to enable more effective societal outcomes.

Consult for further details and direct enquiries to at the Consumer Data Research Centre. The intention is that the studentship will be allocated on a +3 full time basis, although applications for a full time 1+3 programme will also be considered, as will candidates seeking part time study or a full/part time secondment. Closing date: 4 February 2018.

2. Creating a synthetic panel to allocate the total grocery market volume to locations, occasions, and individuals (with Kantar Worldpanel)

A substantial - and increasing - range of human activity is now being captured and stored digitally. These data are obtained from sources that include government administrative records, commercial transactions, Internet usage and smartphones. All benefit from technological innovations that facilitate their collection,storage and analysis and they contribute to “Big Data” available for social science research but they are often unrepresentative – or their representativeness is hard to quantify. Traditional sources of data such as social surveys are less likely to suffer from these limitations but are increasingly costly to administer and suffer high non-response rates where there are little incentives to complete questionnaires. Kantar Worldpanel is one of the few commercial organisations that is successfully managing a range of continuous consumer panels in many countries. In the UK, the panels cover fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), personal care, telecoms, fashion, entertainment and petrol, among many others. Shoppers’ behaviour is recorded, and this can be supplemented with questionnaires to record attitudes or other variables not already captured. The PhD project will focus on the application and development of a range of data linkage methodologies alongside the creation of a series of heuristics to establish the representativeness of the data outputs to the broader population.

Consult for further details and direct enquiries to at the Consumer Data Research Centre. The intention is that the studentship will be allocated on a +3 full time basis, although applications for a full time 1+3 programme will also be considered, as will candidates seeking part time study or a full/part time secondment. Closing date: 4 February 2018

3. SPACE for Dementia and Long Term Conditions study: Social and Psychological factors Affecting primary Care planning Effectiveness for people with dementia and other long term conditions (with NIHR CLAHRC, North Thames)

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD in applied health and social science, in a project jointly funded by ESRC and NIHR. The PhD will explore how people living with dementia who also have long term physical conditions manage their physical health care; and the formal and informal social and caring support that can help them to do so. The student will, with training and supervision, carry out systematic reviews of the theoretical models and best current evidence about how frail populations can be supported to manage their physical health. They will then carry out qualitative interviews to explore in depth how people living with dementia and long term conditions manage their physical health. The student will arrange co-production workshops in which they will work with stakeholders to develop resources, to improve how primary care professionals approach planning care for this group. The student will design a randomised feasibility trial of the resource and undertake further qualitative work to gain an in-depth understanding of their impact. This project will include opportunities to engage with researchers across a broad range of health and social care disciplines. The student will be based mainly in UCL Division of Psychiatry, where academic supervision and broader skills training and career development support will be provided. For about 25% of the time, the student will be based in the NHS/NIHR. The NIHR will provide specialist support with public and patient involvement, and support with NHS recruitment.

For enquiries and further details, please see the advert (Ref.: 1710749) on UCL jobs website, or contact Dr Claudia Cooper, Clinical Reader in UCL Division of Psychiatry at date: 23 February 2018. Interviews will be held on morning of 7 March 2018.

4. Growing up Bilingual: Understanding Specific Benefits across the Mainstream and Complementary Education Sectors (with Newham Partnership for Complementary Education)

This ‘inter-path’ Psychology-Education project will be based in UEL Psychology and will start in October 2018. The PhD student will work on a multi-site collaborative longitudinal project across East London evaluating the specific benefits (cognitive, social and educational) of bilingual development and the possible contributions of ‘complementary’ language schooling among primary-school-age children. The research will compare bilingual children who attend these schools with those who do not and their monolingual counterparts, to be recruited through mainstream schools, on a range of psychological measures and outcomes, by testing them and taking data from schools, their staff and parents. During fieldwork periods, the student will need to collect data from complementary schools in the weekends over term time. Around halfway into the project, the student will be expected to begin developing a set of toolkits for user-groups (schools and families) on bilingual development and complementary education with guidance by the supervisory team, NPCE and its partners.

For further details please see Closing date: 18 February 2018

5. Social, emotional, and mental health profiles of children who stammer (with Action for Stammering Children)

Stammering is a common communication condition outwardly characterised by repetitions, prolongations and blocking of sounds. It may conceal intellectual ability, affects educational choices and achievement, and often results in impaired communication skills, and in some cases can become a focus for teasing and bullying. Like other communication disorders, children who stammer are at increased risk for poor social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) outcomes by adolescence. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue, with as many as four times as many individuals who stammer reporting clinically significant symptoms of anxiety relative to non-stammering peers. However, outcomes are variable and the relationships between stammering itself and SEMH are clearly complex; many individuals with severe stammers enjoy good mental health, while others with more minor symptoms present with more severe anxiety. This studentship project will address the following questions: What risk and protective factors (e.g. stammering severity, bullying, language skills, available therapy) are associated with SEMH outcomes in young people who stammer? What is the prevalence and developmental profile of SEMH in a large sample of young people aged 8-13 years of age who stammer? What is the specificity of these profiles in children who stammer relative to (a) children with other language and communication disorders and (b) typically developing peers? Can we use a “profile of risk” to enhance early identification of children who stammer? A range of methodologies and research techniques will be used to address these questions.

For enquiries and further details, please contact Professor Courtenay Norbury at Closing date: end of February.

6. Questioning BRTs: A win-win solution to public transport problems in the cities of developing countries? (with the International Transport Workers' Federation)

Bus Rapid Transit systems are being constructed at unprecedented rates in developing countries as the solution to the crisis of public transport faced by many of its rapidly growing cities. In 2007, forty cities across six continents had BRT systems. By January 2016, the figure had risen to 207. This increase mainly results from new BRTs in Latin America, Asia and Africa, where many more BRTs are currently being planned and negotiated. A consensus presents BRTs as a ‘win-win’ intervention that benefits the transport system, the economy, the environment and the poor. This project asks: for whom do BRT systems work and who stands to gain and lose from their adoption? In what ways, since when and why have they been promoted so aggressively? With what consequences for public transport and its workers? Drawing on extensive fieldwork, and under the supervision of Dr Matteo Rizzo at SOAS and Alana Dave at ITF, the doctoral research project entails an interdisciplinary and critical analysis of BRT in one city in a developing country. The city to be studied will be selected according to the interests of the strongest applicant for this studentship. The research will explore the tension between urban mass transport as a public entitlement and as a commodified service, and its impact on the evolution of BRTs. The politics of incorporation and resistance to BRTs by pre-existing transport operators (including bus owners and workers) will be scrutinised. Furthermore, the project will map the nexus between economic interests and ‘knowledge production’ which underpins much of the ‘consensus’ about BRT benefits. The doctoral student will disseminate its findings as part of the activities of ITF and its affiliates on BRT.

For further details please see Closing date: 4 March 2018

7. Emotional disclosure as a form of therapeutic intervention on health-related outcomes of people with progressive advanced chronic diseases and their family carers (with Marie Curie)

The successful candidate for this studentship will undertake a mixed methods PhD to; i) review the evidence on the acceptability and efficacy of expressive writing in people with progressive advanced chronic diseases and their family carers and conduct a review of the theoretical frameworks proposed to explain how expressive writing may produce health benefits; ii) use this understanding to develop with patients, family carers and health and social care professionals an expressive writing intervention tailored for people with progressive advanced chronic diseases to produce beneficial improvements in pain, sleep, depression, anxiety and stress, and cause no adverse effect; iii) conduct an exploratory study to test the feasibility and acceptability of expressive writing for people with progressive advanced chronic diseases and their family carers; and iv) to explore patients and family carers’ experiences of completing an expressive writing intervention. The student will be based mainly in the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at UCL, where academic supervision, postgraduate skills training and career development support will be provided. In addition, they will spend approximately 25% of their time at the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead, London.

For more details, please contact Professor Paddy Stone at Closing date: 15 February 2018

8. A political economy analysis of the origins and effects of the rise of private low fee schools in education in sub-Saharan Africa (with Action Aid)

A unique opportunity is available for a highly qualified, innovative and creative student to undertake research to critically assess current aid policies on girls’ education that promote and strengthen the role of the private sector in education in developing countries. The studentship will provide opportunities to work on interdisciplinary themes concerned with education policy, gender and development and development economics in partnership with the innovative policy team based at ActionAid. Candidates are encouraged to apply with a Masters degree in education and International development, Development Studies, Gender Studies, or cognate disciplines. Knowledge of aid policies around gender and education, global organisations, and some of the experiences with public and private education in countries in Africa is desirable.

For further details, please see

Closing date: Please see individual listings for closing dates as dates vary.