PhD Opportunities

PhD opportunities in the School of Social Sciences

There are currently self-funded PhD opportunities in the following areas. For further information, contact the named staff below.

You can find further details on studying for a PhD and details of how to apply by clicking here. 


Funded PhD Opportunities

The School of Social Sciences is seeking recruit a new cohort to undertake a research in a number of key areas. The funding consists of a tax-free stipend paid monthly and has a current value of £14,553 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 £14,553) and a fee waiver to the value of Home / EU student PhD fees (currently £4,120). The closing date for applications is 23:59 on Sunday 15 October 2017.

You can find further details on studying for a PhD and details of how to apply here. To apply, please click on the ‘How to Apply’ tab and quote the Reference Number and Title on your Research Proposal.


Understanding changing voter perceptions and attitudes towards Brexit: a longitudinal study

SupervisorsProfessor Alex de Ruyter, Dr Rebecca Semmens-Wheeler and Dr Arantza Gomez Arana

The Centre for Brexit Studies at BCU is seeking an ambitious talented individual to undertake a programme of PhD research on the cognitive attitudes and perceptions underpinning the resultant Brexit vote. This research will consist of a longitudinal survey, interviews and psychological tests such as simple implicit association tests to map bias and attitudinal changes before and after the expected date of exiting the EU on March 31st 2019.

Specifically, you will explore: the cognitive processes shaping peoples’ attitudes to Brexit, and how these could change over time; the impact of changing socio-economic circumstances towards these perceptions; and the impact on regional and national/international identities (race/migration factors etc.) arising out of the Brexit process.

The successful applicant should have a first degree in a social sciences subject (at least 2:1 honours attained), ideally with experience of both qualitative and quantitative psychological research methods.

Spec:  School of Social Sciences PhD - Understanding changing voter perceptions and attitudes towards Brexit: a longitudinal study.  

Contact information:

Professor Alex de Ruyter

Alex.deRuyter@bcu.ac.uk

07793 233 256 (Mobile)


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. 

Spec:  Social Sciences PhD - How do terrorist and extremists use social media networks to target individuals?  

Contact

Dr Imran Awan, Associate Professor in Criminology

Email: imran.awan@bcu.ac.uk

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. 

Spec:  Social Sciences PhD - Prevent within the public sector: Exploring public sector staff perceptions of Prevent and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015  

Contact

Dr Imran Awan, Associate Professor in Criminology

Email: imran.awan@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6548


Cultural and contextual differences in picture perception: building an ecological model of human visual perception 

Supervisors: Dr Eirini Mavritsaki, Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas and Professor. Maxine Lintern

The proposed research stems from work in the area that identifies cross-cultural differences in visual perceptions between collectivists and individualists. The proposed work aims to investigate the cross-cultural differences on visual attention. This will be achieved by employing a ground-breaking research methodology that uses the traditional visual search experiments utilizing eye-tracking and EEG equipment combining this with social psychology research techniques. This approach will enable the more detailed understanding of the underlying brain processes on human visual perception and its cross-cultural and ecological differences.

Spec:Social Sciences PhD - Cultural and contextual differences in picture perception: building an ecological model of human visual perception  

Contact

Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas, Lecturer in Social Psychology        

Email: Panagiotis.Rentzelas@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6361

Eirini Mavritsaki, Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology

Email: Eirini.Mavritsaki@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6361


Investigating Object Perception Using Virtual Reality

Supervisors: Dr Dean Petters, Dr Ian Williams and Dr Martin Juttner

This cross-disciplinary project involves using virtual reality and eye tracking tools to accomplish research in visual object perception.  A novel aspect of this project is participants will interact with objects in virtual reality in experiments investigating how they recognise and categorise objects. 

These experiments will provide novel results because using virtual reality will increase ecological validity.  Instead of participants seeing objects on a screen and pressing keyboard keys, the participants will be able to reach out manipulate the objects that are attempting to recognise or categorise.  Results are expected to have impact in machine vision and robotic manipulation applications.

Spec:Social Sciences PhD - Investigating Object Perception Using Virtual Reality  

Contact

Dr Dean Petters, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Email: Dean.Petters@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6993


Investigating the potential of rhythmic-based training in the early 

Supervisors: Dr Emily Harrison, Dr Katerina Kantartzis & Professor John Clibbens

This project will involve a detailed investigation into the potential of rhythmic-based training in the early years. Two studies will be conducted in which the student will design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a rhythmic-based training programme for preparing pre-school children for the onset of formal literacy tuition once they reach reception. Please refer to the project information sheet for further details.

Spec:  Social Sciences PhD - Investigating the potential of rhythmic-based training in the early  

Contact

Dr Emily Harrison, Lecturer in Applied Psychology

Email: emily.harrison@bcu.ac.uk 

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 6884