Aim of Research

To explore how females can be empowered and emancipated through entrepreneurial education in order to improve social and economic opportunities within disadvantaged communities in a post conflict setting.

Research Background

Education is inextricably linked to ending extreme poverty, however, whilst education is considered a fundamental human right, in low income countries a loss of education results in reduced socio-economic opportunities and costs countries between $15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings (Wodon et al 2018). Prior research identifies how developing entrepreneurship skills can “improve the status of women, lead to enhanced family and community well-being and broader societal gains” (Haugh and Talwar, 2016, pp. 643). Indeed, research has found that marginalised individuals, such as females in particular contexts are empowered and emanticipated through entrepreneurship (Mongelli and Rullani, 2017; Alkhaled and Berglund, 2018). Jennings et al; (2014, pp. 91) identify that “the emancipation perspective views entrepreneurial endeavors as change-creating efforts through which individuals or groups seek to break free from (and potentially break up) existing constraints within their economic, social, technological, cultural, and/or institutional environments”. Walter and Block (2016) identify the strong relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial activity within entrepreneurship-hostile environments (characterised by low entrepreneur-friendly regulations, opportunities for finance, educational capital and control of corruption). Consequently it is suggested that entrepreneurship education has the power to aid social and economic opportunities of females in post conflict countries. However, there is a lack of research on the role of context within entrepreneurship (Venugopal and Viswanthan, 2019; Zahra and Wright, 2011; Welter and Smallbone, 2011). Furthermore, research is needed on how female entrepreneurship within a multi-ethnic country; where a ‘one-size-fits-all’ entrepreneurship education programme will not suffice, when faced with multiple layers of cultural and contextual influences.


This research will be conducted within the post-conflict and multi-ethnic country Myanmar where socio-cultural norms and political-institutional factors have influenced females social and economic opportunities (Davis and Joliffe, 2016; Kernohan et al. 2018). An exploratory approach will be adopted including surveys, focus groups and community consultations across four regions within Myanmar. This PhD is linked to a larger project where local data collection teams have already been identified within Myanmar and who will aid the local data collection process which will then be analysed by the PhD candidate.

Key Tasks

*Conduct a systematic review of female entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education within disadvantaged and post conflict regions

*Explore how socio-cultural and political-institutional contextual factors influence females attitudes, behaviours, skills and entrepreneurship resources

*Analyse the barriers and opportunities for female entrepreneurship within different regions in Myanmar

*Explore how entrepenurship education can empower and emancipate females to overcome social and economic deprivation in Myanmar

*Identify mechanisms for implementation to develop female entrepreneurship education within Myanmar

*Conduct an analysis of community economic activity and map existing and potential social entrepreneurship opportunities.

*Develop recommendations to inform a curriculum for a entrepreneurship educational programme designed for disadvantaged females

*Develop policy and practical recommendations on how to stimulate greater female entrepreneurship within Myanmar

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • 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.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster


    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to:

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University