Business, Law and Social Sciences
The Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences offers an innovative learning environment, as well as outstanding facilities and resources. We specialise in the fields of business, law, criminology, sociology and psychology.
Funded PhD Opportunities
The School of Social Sciences, the School of Law and the Birmingham City Business School are seeking to recruit a new cohort to undertake research in a number of key areas.The funding consists of a tax-free stipend paid monthly and has a current value of £14,777 per annum. The bursary is renewable annually for up to 36 months in total, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD research.
Successful applicants for our funded PhD studentships will receive a tax-free research stipend that tracks UK Research Council rates (currently £14,777) and a fee waiver to the value of Home / EU student PhD fees (currently £4,260).
The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Thursday 31 May 2018.
To apply, please click on the ‘How to Apply’ tab and quote the Reference Number and Title on your Research Proposal.
Funded PhD Opportunities
Twitter and online extremism: A Corpus Linguistics based approach to identifying risk factors and toxic online communities
Reference Number: 18 Social Sciences
Centre for Applied Criminology / Centre for Applied Psychology
Supervisory Team: Dr Pelham Carter and Dr Imran Awan
Advisors: Dr Mark McGlashan, Mr Matt Gee and Dr Robert Lawson
With the increase in internet and social media usage there has been an associated rise in the proliferation of online extremism. Whilst there is experimental evidence of how anonymity and length of group membership can have on aggressive or dis-inhibited behaviour generally this is largely limited to small scale experiments or short observations, and is not within the context of social media or extremism.
The proposed PhD aims to investigate factors relating to online extremism and membership of extremist online communities, largely within social media platforms such as Twitter. The PhD will combine approaches and theory used in Psychology and Criminology around potential influencing factors with Corpus Linguistic based methods of online data collection and analysis.
Contact information: Dr Pelham Carter
Tel: 0121 300 4076
Cultural and contextual differences in picture perception: building an ecological model of human visual perception
Reference Number: 19 Social Sciences
Supervisory Team: Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas, Dr Eirini Mavritsaki and Prof Maxine Lintern.
The proposed postgraduate research project aims to investigate the cross-cultural differences on visual attention. This will be achieved by employing a ground breaking research methodology that will involve social and cognitive psychology research techniques and the use of psychophysiological equipment. This approach will enable the more detailed understanding of the underlying brain processes on human visual perception and its cross-cultural and ecological differences.
Applicant requirements: The ideal candidate should be a Psychology or Neuroscience graduate with a 2:1 or above BSc (Hons) with a strong interest and experience in behavioural and psychophysiological research. A postgraduate qualification in the area will be desirable.
Contact information: Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas and Dr Eirini Mavritsaki
Tel: 0121 202 8515
An investigation into psychosocial challenges and quality of life in a Cystic Fibrosis population: Developing effective interventions
Reference No: 30 Social Sciences
Centre for Applied Psychology
Supervisory Team: Dr Helen Egan, Dr Rebecca Keyte and Dr Michail Mantzios
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has an extensive impact on multiple aspects of a person’s life. The complexity and degree of symptoms present substantial challenges to people with CF and carers.
This research, in collaboration with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, will focus on mindfulness and positive psychology to investigate the psychosocial challenges of people with CF to inform the development of effective interventions. A psychology (or related degree) graduate (2:1 or above), and a good understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods is essential. A master’s degree, genuine interest in the field, and relevant voluntary or paid work experience is desirable.
Contact information: Dr Helen Egan
Tel: 0121 202 7794
Self-Funded PhD Opportunities
How do terrorist and extremists use social media networks to target individuals?
Supervisors: Dr Imran Awan, Dr Andrew Whiting
The aim of the proposed PhD is to generate insights into the role and significance of how social media networks are used for terrorist and far-right extremist groups to target vulnerable people who are deemed to be at ‘risk’. Communications via social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook can be a criminal offence if deemed to fall under the CPS threshold of being an offence that can be prosecuted. The CPS guidelines state that there must be either; a credible threat of violence, communications which specifically target an individual or group of people, communications which amount to a breach of a court order and communications which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false (CPS Guidelines, 2014).
The aim of this research project, is to therefore investigate and detect the rise in use of digital media and communication used by terrorist and far-right extremist groups to recruit would be sympathisers.
Another strand of this project will be to examine how policing and prosecutions of social media offences is conducted.
Dr Imran Awan, Associate Professor in Criminology
Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6548
Prevent within the public sector: Exploring public sector staff perceptions of Prevent and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
Supervisors: Dr Imran Awan, Dr Andrew Whiting, Dr Keith Spiller
The aim of the proposed PhD is to generate insights into the role and significance of the new Counter-Extremism Strategy (2015) with particular reference to the statutory Prevent duty on all public sector workers. Following the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester there is an urgent need to explore and examine the Prevent strategy which has been a source of contention between the government, ministers, the media, academia and the public.
On the one hand Prevent is viewed as a vital aspect of the broader CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy and something that is necessary to ensure national security. On the other hand critics argue it disproportionately impacts upon individual liberty and has a particularly stigmatising effect on Muslim communities.
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) outlines significant changes to the manner in which Prevent operates; notable among these changes is the formal extension of the duty to ‘prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ to “specified authorities” in England and Wales (Prevent Duty guidance, 2015, p. 3). One such authority specified in the CTSA is the higher education sector. This reform of Prevent places an expectation that staff and management within University will actively engage with institutions such as the police and BIS, that there will be consultation with students and that there will be information sharing within the University (p. 22).
Given the explicit desire to consult and form partnerships within the University between management, staff, students and external agencies this research looks to respond to this. The Prevent duty also places doctors, mental health practitioners, teachers and lecturers as key people who can assist in helping tackle violent extremism.
By consulting directly with mental health practitioners, doctors, teachers and academic teaching staff from different institutions the aim of this research is to promote greater awareness of this duty within the public sector and contribute to knowledge by conducting the first study of its kind that looks to gauge understandings, perceptions and experiences of this aspect of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act.
Dr Imran Awan, Associate Professor in Criminology
Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6548
Funded PhD Opportunities
State Legislatures, Gun Control and the NRA: How Does the NRA Mould State Legislative Programmes?
Reference Number: 7 Law
Centre for American Legal Studies
Supervisory Team: Dr Anne Richardson Oakes and Dr Ilaria Di Gioia
This research will consider how interest groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) attempt to influence state legislation regarding gun control and Stand Your Ground Initiatives. It will map the introduction and progress of relevant state bills and consider the background of their sponsors.
It will focus particularly on so-called pre-emption bills which attempt to impose state control over a field of regulation and thereby enable conservative states to prevent local attempts to impose tighter methods of gun control. It will identify and consider the strategies adopted by local jurisdictions to push back against these laws and thereby contribute to an emerging literature which extends studies of federalism beyond the federal government/states dynamic to explore the internal dynamics of within-state localism versus central control.
Contact information: Dr Anne Richardson Oakes
Tel: 0121 331 6262
The Right to Health in the Universal Periodic Review: An Exploration
Reference Number: 10 Law
Centre for Human Rights and Centre for Law, Science and Policy
Supervisory Team: Prof Jon Yorke, Dr Friso Jansen, and Dr Sarah Cooper
In 2006 the UN established the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR involves a periodic review of the human rights record of the UN member states. Art 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guarantees “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health".
Against a backdrop of both advances in safeguarding physical and mental health and new threats to health worldwide, this project aims to explore how the Right to Health has been interrogated in the two UPR cycles to date. This is with a view to considering how the UPR process could be strengthened to promote and protect the Right to Health among UN member states.
The successful candidate will be invited to develop an understanding of the Right to Health to facilitate a focus on a particular aspect of the Right to Health. This could be, for example, maternal health, reproductive health, LGBT+ health, and/or mental health.
The successful candidate will join a vibrant research community.
Contact information: Dr Friso Jansen / Dr Sarah Cooper
Tel: 0121 300 4171 / 0121 331 6248
The Effect of International Disputes on International Energy Contracts and Resources in Palestine
Reference Number: 14 Law
Supervisory Team: Dr Ozlem Ulgen (Principal Supervisor) and Dr Haydn Davies
As a result of international disputes, especially with neighbouring countries such as Israel, the Palestinian government is prevented from investing in Palestinian energy resources to supply electricity and exploit resources, and cannot establish ownership or control over energy resources.
Deficiencies in the existing legal framework relate to the lack of specific energy law and non-application of private international law in Palestine. The lack of state recognition of Palestine by the international community also means it is unable to enter into international treaties.
This research project explores how international disputes affect international energy contracts and provision of energy resources in Palestine. It maps out the energy resources in Palestine and considers whether these are sustainably exploited. It analyses the precariousness and unsustainability of the existing imports-model of energy provision from Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, despite energy resources existing in Palestine. The research aims at modelling a new law for the Palestinian energy sector.
Contact information: Dr Ozlem Ulgen
Tel: 0121 331 5547
Funded PhD Opportunities
Fact or fiction: An evaluation of the impact of entrepreneurial education on entrepreneurial effectiveness
Reference Number: 3 Business
Supervisory Team: Dr Susan Sisay and Dr Charlotte Carey
We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate to work with the supervisory team to evaluate the effectiveness of Entrepreneurial Education (EE) across the four faculties of Birmingham City University (BCU) in developing entrepreneurial behaviours, attitudes and competencies of students.
The project aims to critically examine the impact of the various EE initiatives across BCU in developing entrepreneurial effectiveness and enhancing the employability. Applicants should have a 2.1 or higher honours degree (ideally business) and ideally a Masters degree with substantial research element at a Merit or above.
Contact information: Dr Susan Sisay
Tel: 0121 300 4406
Regulatory network disruption and European production systems: exploring SME responses in the Brexit transition period
Reference Number: 5 Business
Supervisory Team: Dr Jacob Salder and Professor Mark Gilman
This research project looks at effects of and responses to the regulatory changes of Brexit in relation to SMEs. Its focus will be SME production networks within the UK and a second European country. The relationship between SME development and networks has seen notable recent attention.
Networks are important in addressing resource limitations faced by SMEs, building awareness of opportunity and practice for business development. This is particularly prominent for exporting SMEs and their practices linked to industrial regulation. With the expected disruption to such regulation as the UK leaves the EU, this project will explore responses within SMEs to the challenges of regulatory change and its effect on key relationships.
Contact information: Dr Jacob Salder
Tel: 0121 331 6432
Ethic enclave to Mainstream Entrepreneurship – the experiences of BME and Migrant entrepreneurs in Britain
Reference Number: 6 Business
Supervisory Team: Dr Tom Domboka and Dr Charlotte Carey
Applications are invited from ambitious and talented individuals to undertake a programme of PhD research on the transitioning of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and migrant entrepreneurship from traditional ethnic enclaves into mainstream entrepreneurship.
It is anticipated that the research will take the form of qualitative narrative life story study using semi-structured interviews with entrepreneurs of BME origin operating businesses in the mainstream sectors in order to identify the evolutional and/or revolutionary factors that influence their choices and decisions.
Specifically, you will explore: the factors, motivation, processes and challenges encountered by the different generation of migrants or entrepreneurs of ethnic minority origin and also between different ethnic groups and gender (how generation and ethnicity impact on the transition process)
The successful applicant should have a first degree in a Business or social sciences related subject (at least 2:1 honours attained). A Master’s degree in a related subject area will be an advantage and applicants are expected to have experience of qualitative research methods.
Contact information: Thomas Domboka / Charlotte Carey
Tel: 0121 331 7394 / 0121 331 7359