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ESRC PhD Studentships at Middlesex University

Middlesex University is part of the South and East Network for Social Sciences (SENSS) Doctoral Training Partnership. This means you can apply for an ESRC studentship to support undertaking a PhD at Middlesex.

The South and East Network for Social Sciences (SENSS) is an ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) promoting inventive and inclusive social science research training and collaboration.

Middlesex is one of the 8 world-leading institutions that comprise the membership of the SENSS DTP:

  • City, University of London
  • Cranfield University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Essex (the co-ordinating institution)
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • University of Lincoln
  • Middlesex University
  • University of Roehampton

As an ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), SENSS provides:

  • Fully-funded doctoral studentships
  • Supervision from internationally leading experts in their field
  • Research methods training tailored to individuals' needs
  • A range of placements in which researchers can bring their social scientific skills and findings beyond academia

SENSS has three defining strands:

  1. A proven record in equality, diversity and inclusion along with a commitment – backed up with a detailed action plan – to achieve more.
  2. A strong civic character: SENSS partners are deeply embedded and highly active in their local communities as well as nationally and internationally, meaning that researchers contribute to solutions to the toughest social and policy problems.
  3. A commitment to interdisciplinary research which is built into our very structure: SENSS is organised not by academic subjects but by thematic priorities, so every funded researcher works in an area of national and international importance

SENSS Studentships support interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and training across themes. Middlesex is participating in five of these thematic areas:

  • Resolving uncertainty & addressing crises
  • Sustainability and climate emergency
  • Health, wellbeing & social care
  • Justice, institutions & social change
  • Advanced methods for social & economic research

Prospective students looking to undertake a SENSS-supported PhD at Middlesex addressing one of these themes may apply for supervision in the Faculty of Business and Law. The faculty consists of the following academic departments and units (that also house within them a range of research centres):

  • Department of Accounting and Finance
  • Department of Law and Social Sciences
  • Department of Management, Leadership and Organisations
  • Department of Marketing, Branding and Tourism
  • Flood Hazard Research Centre

What does the studentship provide?

A tax-free maintenance stipend of £18,622 per year (UKRI stipend rates as appropriate each year) to undertake your postgraduate studies, and your tuition fees (whether home or international fee status your SENSS studentship covers your tuition fees for the duration of the funding award).

The structure of the studentship offered will depend on your personal training needs. However, the minimum duration of a SENSS-funded studentship will be 3.5 years (this includes a mandatory placement of approximately 3 months). The maximum duration of a studentship will be 4.5 years and this will be available to students with extensive training requirements, such as those undertaking a masters course ahead of the PhD or an Integrated PhD course. These studentships are applicable to both full-time and part-time study.

In addition to the stipend and fees, the studentship also offers access to research training support funds, and other funds to support overseas fieldwork, overseas institutional visits, and difficult language training.

Are you eligible?

Residential criteria

Regardless of whether you are a "home" applicant or an "international" applicant, you can apply for a studentship. However, there is a cap on international student numbers, as only up to 30% of studentship awards can be made to international applicants.

To be classed as a home student, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter

Academic eligibility

To apply for a Masters plus PhD you will need qualifications or professional experience equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree (Honours). To apply for a PhD only you will need qualifications or professional experience equivalent to a Masters degree and which includes the required research methods training.

If you have already started your PhD, you are eligible to apply for SENSS funding, but only if you will not have already completed 50% or more of your studies when the funding commences in October 2024.

How to apply

The SENSS studentship competition is now open for application for an October 2024 start. Full details can be found on the SENSS DTP Funding Opportunities webpage.

SENSS has produced detailed guidance for applicants, which contains all of the important information you will need to support you with your SENSS studentship application.

There is also the student-led competition policy, which provides information about how the competition will be run, and how applications will be reviewed and awards made.

SENSS also provides guidance notes for supervisors who are supporting a SENSS studentship applicant.

A dual application process:

To apply for a SENSS studentship, you must apply both to SENSS for the studentship and to Middlesex to secure a place in the university’s doctoral programme.  The dates and details for these applications are as follows:

  • Applications for SENSS Studentships must be submitted using the SENSS Studentship application form on HEI Apply. The deadline is 12pm (GMT) (midday) on Friday 9 February 2024.
  • In addition to your SENSS Studentship application, you must also apply for your place at Middlesex. To be eligible for consideration for a SENSS studentship, your application for a place at Middlesex must be completed by 12pm (GMT) on Thursday 8 February 2024.

We strongly encourage you to contact the Department to which you wish to apply at the earliest opportunity, in order to discuss your application, as well as your research proposal and potential supervision arrangements. This is particularly important for signposting your course application and for identifying a supervisor. You must also give your supervisor sufficient time to assist in the development of your studentship application to ensure your best chance of success.

You can already start thinking about and drafting key aspects of your application: you can outline your research proposal, plans and timeline for completion. Your supervisor will be able to offer you advice about how best to do this.

You can also start drafting your personal statement, which should address the following key questions: why are you applying for this studentship; how are you and your proposed supervisors the best fit; how does your research fit with the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thematic group to which you are applying; why SENSS and how will the SENSS studentship enable you to achieve what you are proposing?

SENSS also encourages applications that are advanced quantitative methods (AQM) and big data-based (I.e., which use AQM, and/or large datasets, and/or big data methods and associated innovative analytical methods -more than one may apply), so you should refer to this in your application if applicable.

If you are applying for a Masters and PhD studentship, you will need to make an application for the Masters programme and add a note to your course application that you are applying for a SENSS 1+3.5 studentship and are seeking admission to both the Masters and PhD.

The Studentship Selection Process

All studentship applications submitted on HEIApply by the deadline are reviewed by the relevant departments and then assessed and scores against the SENSS assessment criteria by an institutional thematic panel, based on the thematic groups.

Up to two applications for each thematic area will be submitted to the SENSS DTP Thematic Groups, which assess the nominated applications from all 8 member-institutions and nominate the best applicants to the SENSS Management Board for consideration.

The SENSS Management Board makes the final award decisions, and applicants will be advised of the outcome of their applications in mid-April.

Get in touch

To seek assistance with submitting your application and securing a supervisor, please contact Professor Kevin McDonald at DTP-SENSS@mdx.ac.uk.

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