Funded PhD Opportunity An investigation and comparison of age based discrimination in employment.

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Business and Management Studies


A large employment gap is arising in the UK from an ageing population, caused by longer life expectancy, lower birth rates and the decision of many to retire as early as possible; it is likely that a future reduction in European migrant labour due to the UK’s impending exit from the European Union will not being able to compensate for this. There is an organisational and national benefit to extending the working lives of employees, either by retaining/retraining them or recruiting those currently out of work. Age discrimination is both widespread and costly to organisations, and marketing & recruitment efforts could help reduce it, address the employment gap, extend working lives, increase the tax base and reduce the stress on pensions and health services. A study in 2017 indicated a possible low level of age diversity in the careers marketing of the UK Top 100 FTSE organisations’ web pages, possibly representing an indirect discriminatory barrier to older people in the recruitment process. The study also indicated that organisations were considering the gender and racial diversity of their staff when advertising more than age.

This project would consist of three stages. Firstly to replicate and bolster the 2017 study by using a larger sample with more criteria to match against such as:

*Are the adverts in print/physical media as well as online?

*The diversity employments stats of the companies themselves, for comparison.

*The role types that older staff are portrayed to be working (e.g. executive, secretarial, manual)

*Not just comparing the age, gender and racial diversity but also looking at the rate of intersectional diversity.

The second stage of the research would be an in-depth look into organisations with different approaches to age employment – both in terms of retention and recruitment. This would ideally be done whilst also considering the geographical differences in age employment between for example, NI and SE England (NI has the largest emerging age employment gap in the UK).

This study would investigate how organisations’ practices and policies impact age employment for example, reskilling, retaining, job design changes, working environment changes and working hour changes.Finally the study would conduct a holistic age employment comparison between the UK (NI in particular) with other countries with higher age participation i.e. Sweden and Iceland, comparing the impacts of factors on the age employment gap such as:Organisational Culture/Practices including marketing, recruitment, retraining etc.Government regulations/interventions includingIncentives for organisations to retain and retrainPension/ retirement standardsNational historical culture and societyOverall economic prosperity

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

Watch Video

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
12 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Martin McCracken

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #238401 when applying for this PhD opportunity