Funded PhD Opportunity Education policy in active conflict

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Social Work and Social Policy


Creativity and Culture, Healthy Communities, Sustainability and Social Renewal

The studentship will contribute to UU’s 5&50 of encouraging social renewal through directly influencing peace and conflict in the most controversial ethno-political policy area of a conflict society: education. An understanding of teacher behaviour will lead to an increase in educational attainment, a more integrationist society and thereby developing scholarship in the areas of peace and conflict.

The structural character of education in most societies has significant impact on the socialization of citizenship. In this sense education policy offers an ideal means to fortify an ethnic group’s understanding of their place in a country. Assimilationist education policies provide the opportunity to reinforce governing language and culture by offering ‘single institutions operating according to the values of the dominate tradition, where minority needs and interests are often neglected’ . Alternatively, Separatist policies, which are characterised by the provision of ‘separate institutions each serving different constituencies with relatively homogeneous populations’  are able to transmit exclusive cultural practices, expressing a pride in a divergent identity, marking a group as different from those around them.

Education policy aimed at both content and structure, can serve to strengthen or weaken a group’s position within a society and affect inter-group relations.  In societies marked by ethno-politics, identity conflict and division, education therefore takes on a distinctly important role, strengthening and weakening government legitimacy. As such education policy is often the most divisive and contested policy within a society experiencing active conflict. The current academic analysis of education policy within contested societies highlights the mismatch between the desires of the people and their representative political and military elites.

This PhD research should seek to examine the role of teachers in delivering education programmes to young people within heavily contested, multi ethnic societies. We would therefore urge prospective candidates to place particular emphasis on the role of front line education staff (street level bureaucrats) in negotiating identity driven policies in schools.  In summary, the research should aim to capture an empirically up-to-date and analytically rigorous account of the experiences of schoolteachers in societies experiencing conflict or contestation.

The successful candidate would be expected to focus on one or two case studies of his or her choice, with priority given to proposals that focus on the Middle East.

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)
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

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.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    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.

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 18 February 2019
Interview Date
25 to 27 March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact Supervisor

Dr Karl O'Connor

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #344222 when applying for this PhD opportunity