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PhD studentships

PhD studentships are a type of scholarship for your research. Generally, a PhD studentship will provide at least the full standard UK/EU fees, and will usually include a maintenance stipend as well. The studentship will normally focus on an area of research that is of interest to the sponsoring party. Stay tuned for more PhD studentships in the future.

Health, Education and Life Sciences PhD studentships

HELS is making major investments in growing the quality and volume of research across its three constituent Schools (The Schools of Education and Social Work, Health Sciences, and Nursing and Midwifery) through investments in academic staff and researchers, doctoral students and new labs and equipment.

This work is led by three centres of research excellence: the Centre for Studies in Practice and Culture in Education (CSPACE); the Centre for Social Care, Health and Related Research (CSCHaRR); and the Centre for Life and Sport Sciences (CLaSS).

We are pleased to invite applications for four new fully funded PhD opportunities to support this work. This includes three Graduate Research Teaching Assistant (GRTA) roles that will support the research priorities of our schools and a PhD ‘classic’ route funded by our partner The Heather Van Der Lely foundation.

To apply, please complete the project proposal form and then complete your online application (via the link attached to each individual project) where you will be required to upload your proposal in place of a personal statement. Please ensure you state the relevant project reference on your proposal form.

Further information can be found here.

The following PhD opportunities will begin on Monday 10 May 2021. The deadline for applications is Sunday 10 January at 11.59pm.

Teaching and Learning in Digital Spaces in Primary ITE 
Lead supervisor: Dr Louise Wheatcroft 
Apply now (you must also complete a project proposal form).

The Covid 19 crisis has represented significant challenges for the whole education sector, not least with regard to how to provide high quality education at a distance.

Teacher education departments have not been immune to this and have had to respond in imaginative and judicious ways. Coupled with this there is increasing recognition that traditional pedagogies, premised on modes of teaching that place the lecturer front and centre, fare poorly online and that a recalibration of lecturer and student engagement and relationships is urgently needed (Guardian, 2020). Consequently, with these challenges also come opportunities to reimagine students’ lived experience in Higher Education.

New ways of developing pedagogical and curricular approaches can now be examined that retain the best features of the pre-pandemic Higher Educational experience whilst exploring the potential of still emerging technologies and communication practices. This comes at a time when all ITE providers are considering their response to the new ITT Core Content Framework from September 2020 reflecting a strategic shift from trainee outcomes to a focus on trainee teachers’ education.    

This is therefore an exciting opportunity to conduct a full-time PhD study to explore what teaching and learning in digital spaces could look like in Primary initial teacher education. Furthermore, it will also feed into a Faculty wide commitment to developing leading edge pedagogies and our interest in building on the work undertaken in response to the Covid-19 issue.  

We welcome proposals that explore ways to grasp the current moment of potential and possibilities and imagine alternative futures; and/or focus on the value of emerging technologies, literacies and communication practices, and that seek to inform policy and practice in this area with a view to addressing issues of teacher recruitment and retention. It is anticipated that the focus will be on Primary Initial Teacher Education and the higher education space, and /or home/school literacies and engagement.  

The specific area to explore will depend upon the candidate and their field of expertise and interests.  

In addition to a background in primary education, a postgraduate qualification, or equivalent practice experience, the successful candidate will have an enthusiasm for teacher education and a commitment to contributing to high quality undergraduate teaching on programmes relevant to their specialism.

Teaching and Learning in Digital Spaces in Nursing and Midwifery Education
Lead supervisor: Dr Ben Appleby
Apply now (you must also complete a project proposal form)
Interviews will take place on Monday 25 January.

The project ‘Teaching and Learning in Digital Spaces in Nursing and Midwifery Education’ seeks to explore the experiences of staff and students on practice-based courses in the context of the changing educational landscape triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. It is anticipated that this project will feed into a faculty-wide commitment to developing leading edge pedagogies. The aim is to build on the work undertaken in the Covid-19 crisis, and particularly in relation to how staff and students on nursing and midwifery courses collaborate to co-construct knowledge and understanding to enhance teaching and learning in their respective fields. So this is an opportunity for a research-minded practitioner/lecturer to make a difference to nursing and midwifery education through fully supported full-time doctoral study.

In addition to a relevant first degree, a postgraduate qualification, or equivalent practice experience, the successful candidate will have an enthusiasm for nurse and midwifery education and a commitment to contributing to high quality undergraduate teaching on programmes relevant to their specialism.

How can knowledge mobilisation theory be used to improve radiography education?
Apply now (you must also complete a project proposal form).
Interviews will take place on Wednesday 27 January.

Effective education is essential to preparing the next generation of independent practitioners. Our radiography students spend approximately half their time in the university academic setting, and half in the practicum, working and learning alongside staff in clinical imaging departments. Therefore, clinical staff are key to educating students and importantly there needs to be shared knowledge and understanding across student-clinical staff- academic boundaries. Knowledge mobilisation, put simply ‘moving to where it is most useful’ is an emerging field of study in health care and education. 

The successful candidate will employ qualitative research methods to explore how knowledge is currently mobilised across student-clinical staff- academic boundaries to support best practice in student education. The study will be informed by the four pillars of advanced practice namely research, clinical skills, education and leadership, and the Society of Radiographers Practice Educator Accreditation Scheme (PEAS).

This GRTA post offers an HCPC registered Diagnostic Radiographer a unique opportunity to both teach students in the university setting and undertake doctoral study investigating how knowledge mobilisation theory may be used to improve radiography education, ultimately for the benefit of patients. The Department of Radiography at BCU educates students on undergraduate courses in Diagnostic Radiography, Therapeutic Radiography and Medical Ultrasound. The successful GRTA will contribute teaching in one or more of these areas.  

Investigating the effectiveness of a language intervention for young offenders with developmental language disorder
Funded by the Heather Van Der Lely foundation
Apply now (you must also complete a project proposal form).
Interviews will take place on Wednesday 27 January.

This project is funded by the Heather Van Der Lely foundation and will form a quantitative intervention study that aims to measure the effectiveness of a language intervention for young offenders (YOs) with developmental language disorder (DLD). We anticipate that the study will be conducted either within a secure setting or within a community setting situated within a Youth offending service. Research has consistently documented high prevalence rates of DLD within the youth offender population as measured by a range of assessments that target various forms of language (inc expressive discourse, narrative, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and pragmatics), all of which have significant implications for participation within the youth justice service (YJS), (Anderson et al, 2016; Bryan, et al, 2015). Despite the known association between language and offending behaviour (Hopkins et al, 2018; Winstanley et al 2017), there is still a dearth of evidence concerning effective intervention that targets aspects of language that could support the engagement and participation of YOs within the YJS.

The successful candidate will have a degree in a relevant field, a postgraduate qualification and crucially an enthusiasm for improving the life chances of young people with experience of the Youth Justice Service.

Collaborative Doctoral Awards - funded by Midlands4Cities (M4C)

Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs) see you apply for advertised projects co-designed, and jointly supervised, between an M4C university and an external partner organisation. CDAs offer diverse and unique research projects that support the work of the partner organisation. Studentships are four years for full-time study.

Giving New Voices to Old Music: Baroque Vocal Music with Ex Cathedra
Lead supervisor: Carrie Churnside
Application deadline: 13 January 2021 at 12pm
Full information available here.

Since the early music revival of the 1960s and 1970s, Baroque music has become a staple feature of the concert hall, with everincreasing attempts to get as close as possible to the original sound world through historically-informed performance.

However, as Bruce Haynes notes, modern musicians ‘perform certain pieces into the ground, like the Brandenburg concertos or the Four Seasons – much more frequently than they were ever performed, or intended to be’ (2007: 87). On the one hand there exists a wealth of music from the period that has been little explored by either musicologists or performers, whilst on the other there is an appetite for new works, as best-selling recordings of modern premières demonstrate.

The situation is even more acute for choral works, which have – on the whole – received far less scholarly attention than the operas and instrumental music of the period. Ex Cathedra has been at the forefront of explorations in this field, both in terms of rediscovering hitherto neglected music (particularly, but not exclusively, in the field of Latin American Baroque music) and in exploring the new insights that historicallyinformed performance can bring to classics of the canon (including Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius). Yet there is much work still to be done.

This project will address the situation by inviting the student to propose a repertoire of hitherto unedited choral works from the period 1580–1740; they will then create scholarly critical editions (enabling the music to be sung by modern performers) and work with Ex Cathedra to explore issues of performance practice. The specific research questions will depend on the choice of repertoire, but overall the project will ask what we can learn about the performance practice of baroque choral music through practical experiments with some of the leading practitioners in this field.

Following a common model of such PhDs, at the heart of the project will be the creation of new scholarly critical editions, which themselves constitute an original contribution to knowledge, and an accompanying thesis of c. 40,000 words examining performance practice issues in the chosen repertoire.

The process of creating a critical edition involves collating multiple sources and resolving discrepancies to produce a definitive version of the score. The editorial process will involve finding ways of representing in modern musical notation any obsolete or obscure notational conventions in the source materials. It will involve a palaeographic study of the source and – depending on the choice of repertoire – archival work may well be required. Study of the historical context and musical analysis will inform the written thesis, which will examine issues of performance practice.

A central feature of the research will be the opportunity to work with Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra Scholars in an iterative cycle: trialling drafts of the scores to inform the definitive version, identifying performance issues, and then trying out a range of possible performance decisions (e.g. pitch, temperament, ornamentation, etc.) to help to establish what works practically in an historically-informed performance. The final result will then provide Ex Cathedra with new material for performance and recordings, thereby giving new voice to old works and disseminating the research to an international audience.

For further information on methodology, timeframe and more, please view the M4C information on the project. More information on Ex Cathedra can be found via their website.

Composition as a workplace intervention: Adding value to Stan’s Cafe
Lead supervisor: Michael Wolters 
Application deadline: 13 January 2021 at 12pm
Full information available here.

It has long been recognised that there are reduced opportunities for composers from traditional working models. The ongoing impacts of the global pandemic on the cultural landscape increase the urgency with which composers need to step out into unfamiliar territory and find new models for engaging and working with organisations and businesses.

While the idea of a ‘composer-in-residence’ is a traditional one with a long history, it usually refers to the composer being a separate entity at the venue and composing work that has usually nothing to do with where they are staying.

In the performing arts, the traditional theatre/composer relationship has been one which commissions the composer within a hierarchical structure to deliver output for other practitioners to use. The aim of this project is to examine the possibilities of ‘inserting’ a composer into the organisation of an established artistic company, so they can observe and relate to not only the artistic output of the company, but also day-to-day operational activities.

This research will test models of collaboration borrowing from practices in the visual arts world, drawing on precedents such as the Artist Placement Group in the 1960s and its hybrid practices (Cateforis et al, 2018) and more recent critical attention to the potential of residencies in the art world (Elfvin, 2019), and as interventions in business activities (Berthoin Antal, 2012).

Key research questions
  • How can the working models and methods of a creative business inform an approach to music composition? 
  • What can the presence of Composer-in-Residence contribute to a theatre company other than supplying incidental music?
  • What impact does the presence of a composer/musician within a theatre company have on the role of music in the production process?

For further information on methodology, timeframe and more, please view the M4C information on the project. More information on Stan's Cafe can be found via their website.

Shakespeare and the Articulation of Human Rights in the United Nations
Lead supervisor: Jon Yorke 
Application deadline: 13 January 2021 at 12pm
Full information available here.

This CDA brings together the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) and Birmingham City University’s Centre for Human Rights (CHR) to design and deliver a unique investigation into the influence of Shakespeare. The SBT is the world’s leading research and resource centre on the works and life of William Shakespeare. Its extensive collection of over 1 million documents celebrates Shakespeare’s life and reveals his unique contributions to our understanding of the human condition.

The CHR is engaged in a diversity of activities aimed at promoting and protecting international human rights. The project will contribute to the SBT’s focus on Shakespeare’s creative and global legacies. It will provide a new investigation into Shakespeare’s exposition on the human condition, through considering how human rights issues, presented in Shakespeare’s works, find their reflectio

Key research questions
  • What insights might Shakespeare’s work provide for the “foundations of freedom, justice, and peace in the world” (Preamble, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)?
  • How might Shakespeare’s work construct a methodology for analysing the reflexivity of the language of human rights within the United Nations?
  • How might we define afresh: ‘Shakespeare shows us what it is to be human’?
  • What impact might readings and analyses of Shakespeare have on the study and interpretation of human rights?

For further information on methodology, timeframe and more, please view the M4C information on the project. More information on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust can be found via their website.