The Northern Ireland and North-East Doctoral Training Partnership of the Economic and Social Research Council (NINE-ESRC)

The NINE-ESRC organizes an annual competition for both doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships.


Ulster University is one of seven universities that is a member of the ESRC’s Doctoral Training Partnership of Northern Ireland and the North-East of England. The NINE-ESRC organizes an annual competition for both doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships. For full information about the research ‘pathways’, types of scholarship, financial value of the award, and key deadlines for the competition, please visit the main webpage of the ESRC-NINE.

If you are interested in making an application, we encourage you to make early contact with Dr Shane Mac Giollabhuí, who is the University’s primary point of contact with ESRC-NINE. If the School decides to support your application, the early priority is to identify a team of supervisors who can help strengthen each aspect of your proposal in anticipation of the full application in January 2021.

We also encourage you to read carefully the policies and procedures of the annual competition for scholarships with the ESRC-NINE.

The competition for a scholarship with the ESRC-NINE is different to the School’s internal competition in a number of important ways:

Greater range of applicants

First, the ESRC-NINE scheme encourages a greater range of applicants, including applicants who wish to study for an MA/MSc and a PhD. The ESRC-NINE offers 1+3 funding, which means the scheme will fund a one-year MA/MSc and a three-year doctorate. If you have a strong undergraduate degree, especially a first-class undergraduate degree, we strongly encourage you to consider applying for a 1+3 award with the NINE-ESRC. There are a number of awards available, which we hope will suit your circumstances; please read the ESRC-NINE’s document on ‘polices and procedures’ for details.

Take advantage of the wide range of MA/MSc programme

Second, because the ESRC-NINE is a partnership, you can take advantage of the wide range of MA/MSc programme that are available at our partner universities in the ESRC-NINE. If there is a more appropriate postgraduate programme in one of the other partnership’s constituent university (including QUB, Durham and Newcastle) – perhaps an MA/MSc not currently offered at UU – the ESRC-NINE will fund your MA/MSc at the partner university, followed by your doctoral studies at Ulster University.

Encouraging ‘collaborative’ applications

Third, the ESRC-NINE actively encourages ‘collaborative’ applications that propose a strong link with a non-University partner. So, for instance, if you propose to conduct research in collaboration with a hospital or a police force – or, indeed, any agency in the public and private sector – the ESRC will underwrite this type of collaborate research. The ESRC-NINE has also made a commitment to award at least 30% of all its scholarships to these types of collaborative proposals.

Close fit between you and your project’s supervisor

Fourth, the ESRC-NINE expects to see a very close fit between you and your project’s supervisor (and supervisory team). The implication is that we will only support your proposal if we are able to ‘match’ your research interest with a member of our academic staff that shares your focus.

Apply for Mono-disciplinary and Cross-disciplinary ‘pathways’

Finally, the ESRC-NINE encourages applicants to consider applying to a wide range of both mono-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary ‘pathways’. As it stands, UU support applications along five of these pathways: Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work; Law and Society; Management, Business and Economics; Politics and International Studies; and Health and Well-Being. For further details, see the ESRC-NINE website.