PhD opportunities

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.

Applicants are asked to develop and submit a 2000-word proposal, which is the most important part of the assessment.

The proposals should be aligned with the particular themes of this year’s studentship competition.

In addition you will be asked to submit your CV and a personal personal statement. For more information on the online application visit the how to apply section on the Doctoral College.

Once you have identified a theme, You are strongly encouraged to contact the named named supervisor for further information regarding the theme and the suitability of your research proposal. You will find their contact details within each theme. They will also be able to forward your query to relevant subject experts within the school for further advice.


Power, social rights and justice

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies drives 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 promotes critical research that employs 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.

Method, evidence and theory for social practitioners

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies invites applications that demonstrate innovative data collection methods designed to create novel datasets, rigorous research methods and robust theoretical approaches that can be employed in addressing contemporary social and political challenges encountered by policy makers, public administrators and service providers.

Community transformation

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies pioneers research and promotes learning spaces that critically engages with the ways in which the transformation and emancipation of individuals, and communities, are intimately bonded to the transformation of the regional, national and international political economies in which the local and individual is integrated. We invite applications in particular that focus on those social groups facing exclusion or marginalisation, and how their inclusion and transformation is linked to wider social movements, structural reforms, and political forms of national and transnational mobilisation. Applications that contest frameworks which pathologise and reify social problems, that enables researches and practitioners to holistically and critically situate social and policy dilemmas are particularly encouraged.

Policy, practice and peacemaking in divided societies

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies invites applications that demonstrate novel approaches to dealing with the policy, professional and social dilemmas that emerge when social cleavages grounded in class, ethnicity, ideology, gender, race, religion, sexuality, or a combination thereof, assume aggravated forms, marked by instability, violence, armed conflict or extreme forms of persecution. This may also include research proposal that employ or aim to generate peacemaking technologies, with regional, national or international applications.

Critical epistemologies

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies encourage 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.

Devolution and Brexit

The School of Applied Social and Policy Studies invites applications that spearhead research into devolution with interdisciplinary and innovative projects that investigate the opportunities for broadening the democratic ecosystem and enriching the public sphere through new relationships between civil society, communities and local government. Applications are also invited around projects that examine stresses in the system of devolved government as it exists in the United Kingdom. Research might address examples of decision making which have impacted on inequality, exclusion and discrimination. Proposals that engage with the Brexit process, which is expected to produce a historically significant constitutional shock that impacts on devolution, are welcomed. Brexit is particularly significant for many aspects of politics and society in Northern Ireland. It has also brought in to question the basis of the United Kingdoms relationship with the Republic of Ireland.