Funded PhD Opportunity Critical Epistemologies

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Social Work and Social Policy


The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies encourages applications that interrogate systems of knowing, including both methods of verification, and how the interpretations these methods produce are linked in complex ways to ideology, class, gender, and race. We also encourage proposals that experiment with alternative ways of knowing, that draw from the epistemologies developed by groups and areas that lie beyond the scientific orthodoxy, with a view to synthesising approaches so that social experience and social reality can be more richly captured from multiple vantage points, upon which critical social theory can be developed.

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 “Critical Epistemologies” 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 mental health and wellbeing, decision making, risk assessment and the use of evidence in practice and policy;

*Social Policy, including poverty and disadvantage, voluntary sector, adult social care, welfare pluralism, reproductive rights, migration, policy narratives;

*Criminology and Justice, including prisons, human rights and criminal justice, truth recovery, state crime, crime mapping, cybercrime and terrorism;

*Politics, including gender, memory studies, ethnonationalism;

*Public Policy, including social impact, attitudes, governance and performance in public services;

*Youth and Community Studies, including grassroots perspectives on post-conflict transition, critical pedagogy, reflective praxis, dialogical education, intersectionality, person-centred approaches;

*Sociology, including race/ethnicity, child abuse, capabilities, narratives

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

Dr Lucy Michael

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #239736 when applying for this PhD opportunity