Funded PhD Opportunity Power, social rights and justice

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Social Work and Social Policy


The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies invites applications that drive forward research that is closely informed by how power is distributed, shared and managed, within institutions, between institutions and across societies. Inequity has the potential to generate a range of asymmetries, which are drivers of institutional breakdown, public waste, economic underperformance, corruption and human rights abuses.  The School invites proposals in critical research that employ novel tools to detect asymmetries of power and their concrete relationship with a range of social outcomes, in addition to innovations that help confront abuse and mismanagement in all sectors of society.

This year the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences invites PhD proposal across six thematic areas: Power, social rights and justice; Method, evidence and theory for practitioners; Community Transformation; Policy, practice and peacemaking in divided societies; Critical Epistemologies; and Devolution and Brexit. Whilst applications must be submitted to one of the six themes, proposals that bring together two or more of these themes are actively encouraged.

For projects in “Power, social rights and justice” applicants are asked to develop and submit a 2000 word proposal. Proposals aligned with one or more of the follow sub-themes are particularly welcome (but proposals may also come from outside these sub-themes, consistent with the overall theme):

*Social Work, including; older people, adult safeguarding resilience across life course; child protection; partner violence

*Social Policy, including poverty and disadvantage, mixed economy of welfare, welfare reform, race and ethnicity, reproductive rights, health and social care;

*Criminology and Justice, including prisons, intersectional rights in the criminal justice system, state crime, terrorism, cyber-crime, restorative justice and policing;

*Politics, including memory studies and national identity;

*Public Policy, including social justice and wellbeing;

*Youth and Community Studies, including identity, gender, grassroots post-conflict transition, community activism, inequality, empowerment, participation, community restorative justice;

*Sociology, including minority and migrant rights, child abuse, capabilities approach.

Proposals must be submitted as part of the online application and are expected to be approximately 2,000 words long, covering at a minimum the basic building blocks of: research question or outline of the main PhD focus; review of existing relevant scholarship (literature review); proposed methodology, and likely significance/ contribution to the field.

In the first instance, please contact the named supervisor for further information regarding the theme and the suitability of your research proposal. They will also be able to forward your query to relevant subject experts within the school for further advice. For general enquiries please contact the School Research Director Dr Markus Ketola ( or the Postgraduate Tutor Dr Shane MacGiollabhui (

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
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.


    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
21 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Professor Ann-Marie Gray

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #239080 when applying for this PhD opportunity