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PhD in Sociology - Responsible Innovation in Synthetic Biology: Concepts, Concerns and Commercialism

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th April 2019
Closes: 3rd June 2019

Value of award

100% tuition fees at UK/EU rate will be paid and an annual maintenance grant equivalent to the RCUK rate (£15,009 for 2019/20). Successful non-EU international students will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees. A research training support grant is available to support fieldwork and associated costs.

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration

October 2019 for 3 years full time.


This studentship, hosted by Policy Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, is open to candidates with backgrounds and interests in bioethics, the sociology of science and technology, or the governance or political economy of the sciences. The specific direction for the research will be determined by the interests of the successful candidate, but could include areas such as,

  • Bioethical exploration of the responsible development of synthetic biology and its application to higher organisms.
  • A socio-ethical exploration of the relationships between academic research and commercial application and how responsibility impacts on the shift from one to the other.
  • Government policy and governance of biotechnology, and the drive towards a knowledge economy.
  • Synthetic biology and the bioeconomy of sustainable growth, considering impacts on environmental aspects such as architecture, water, and the use of gene drives in disease mitigation.

The promises made for these technologies to contribute to the economy, address major societal concerns such as climate change and food security, and revolutionise healthcare are all areas that are open to critical examination and reflection.

The project will form a part of the programme of work, Synthetic Portabolomics: Leading the Way at the Crossroads of the Digital and Bio Economies. (Award EP/N031962/1).


Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr. Simon Woods

Eligibility Criteria

The successful applicant will have, or expect to have, a Master’s Degree in Social Science or cognate discipline). If your first language is not English you need an overall IELTS score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in all sub-skills).

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please select ‘How to Apply’ and choose the ‘Apply now’ button.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • Click on programme of study
  • Insert 8202F in the programme code section and click search
  • Select Programme name ‘PhD in Sociology (full time) – 8202F
  • Insert PEALS01 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code PEALS01 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts* and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification.

*You will not be able to submit your application until you have submitted your degree transcript/s.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to Dr. Simon Woods by email to


For further details, please contact:

Dr. Simon Woods


Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3254

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