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PhD Opportunities

PhD opportunities in the School of Social Sciences

There are currently both funded and 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 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 £15,285 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 £15,285) and a fee waiver to the value of Home / EU student PhD fees (currently £4,407). 

The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Sunday 31 May 2020

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.


Title:  What can we learn from the LGBTQ teaching row in Birmingham?

School: Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  4

Supervisory Team: Dr Lesley Storey, Dr Piotr Godzisz, Dr Keeley Abbott

Birmingham has hit the headlines because of protests against the inclusion of same sex relationships in sex and relationship education in schools.  This PhD aims to understand the debates, the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, their effects on LGBTQ people (including hate crime), as well as teachers’ confidence in incorporating LGBTQ content into their teaching.

Essential qualifications are:

  • A minimum of 2.1 UK UG degree in a relevant subject (eg psychology, sociology, politics) or the overseas equivalent
  • Undergraduate level qualifications in qualitative methods and quantitative statistical analysis
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team with shared goals
  • Interpersonal skills: ability to relate to others with tact and diplomacy

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 4 CIS Learning Understanding the LGBTQ teaching row in Birmingham

Contact information:

Name: Dr Lesley Storey

Email: lesley.storey@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 5553


Title: Strategies for tackling mental health and wellbeing in education

School: Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  7

Supervisory Team: Dr Emily Harrison; Dr Amy Cook; Dr Helen Egan

We are seeking a PhD candidate to work in collaboration with local schools to develop mental health interventions that can be implemented within the school environment. The project aims to (a) identify adolescents at risk of mental health problems, (b) evaluate existing approaches of intervention/support within participating schools, (c) gain an insight into teacher awareness of mental health in education, and (d) gain an insight into the support needed by these pupils to support positive mental health and wellbeing. Finally, the project will design, develop, administer, and evaluate the impact of a mental health intervention with participating children.

Applicant Requirements:

  • Candidates will be expected to have an Upper Second Class Honours Degree (or above) in Psychology or other relevant subject area.
  • Relevant experience working on previous educational or developmental research projects, and/or previous work or voluntary placement(s) in schools is desirable.
  • Candidates must have a strong interest in mental health in education.
  • Candidates must be able to travel to participating schools independently and transport testing materials securely.
  • Please note that you will need to complete a DBS check prior to any data collection.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 7 CIS Strategies for tackling mental health and wellbeing in education

Contact information:

Name: Dr Emily Harrison

Email: emily.harrison@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 6884


Title: WMNow: An evaluation of the scheme and an exploration of its impact on the public’s fear of crime and fear of victimisation.

School: Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  9

Supervisory Team: Dr Chrisa Pornari, Dr Laura Hammond, & Dr Tatiana Tkacukova

This project will evaluate the effectiveness of WMNow, West Midland Police’s (WMP) free community 2-way messaging system. WMNow delivers up to date, and local to the users, information from police and partners directly to the signed-up users’ inbox, including information such as local crime updates, appeals, and safety/crime prevention advice. The project will explore how the public receive and utilise such information, and whether WMNow makes communities feel safer, or instead whether WMNow might be increasing fear of crime/victimisation. This project will be conducted in collaboration with WMP and it will adopt both a qualitative and quantitative methodology.

Applicants Requirements:

  • A good Honours degree (at least 2.1) in a cognate discipline (e.g., Social Sciences, Psychology, Criminology)
  • A demonstrable ability to conduct independent research.

Desirable:

  • A Master’s degree in a cognate discipline.
  • Evidence of awareness and understanding of subject area.
  • Experience of conducting evaluations.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 9 CIS WMNow An Evaluation

Contact information:

Name: Dr Chrisa Pornari, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology

Email: chrisa.pornari@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 6395


Title: Understanding the paradigm shift of stereotyping and conformity of homosexuality in a UK population: A mixed methods exploration

School: School of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Application Reference Number:  13

Supervisory Team: Dr Deborah Earnshaw, Dr Elle Boag, Dr Samuel Parker and Professor Craig Jackson

Same-sex relationships, marriage and rights are more socially accepted than ever before, but concerns remain about stereotyping and conforming to gender roles as findings suggest heterosexual and homosexual individuals hold the same homosexual stereotypes. The mixed-method PhD should explore stereotyping of and conformity to homosexual characterisation in individuals in the UK, by investigating perspectives through multiple studies. The candidate should have an established understanding of stereotyping and conformity in non-heterosexual individuals.

Applicant Requirement:

Essential:

  • Upper second class BSc Psychology (Hons) Degree (or equivalent GBC accredited qualification)
  • Practical experience and application of both quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Good communication skills
  • Good writing ability

Desirable:

  • First Class BSc Psychology (Hons) degree
  • MSc in Psychological Research Methods
  • PGCert in Teaching and Learning
  • Postgraduate/advanced level quantitative statistical analysis
  • Advanced experience of qualitative data analysis 

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 13 CIS Understanding the paradigm shift of stereotyping

Contact information:

Name: Dr Deborah Earnshaw

Email: Deborah.Earnshaw@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 6222


Title: Barriers to learning for children with special education needs in the Birmingham area Education System

Application Reference Number:  25

School: Social Sciences; Dept of Psychology

Supervisory Team:

Dr Paraic Scanlon, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Emily Coyne-Umfreville, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Emily Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Ian Mundy, Lecturer in Psychology

This project aims to understand the experiences of children with visible and invisible special education needs (SEN) in the Birmingham area educational system, and the attitudes of their educators and peers toward them within educational settings. This will be studied through analysis of large-scale Local Education Authority data on retention, progression and inclusion. Also, In-school examination of educator and peer attitudes toward children with SEN will take place to identify specific issues, using quantitative and qualitative methods. This project will help develop our knowledge toward improving the educational experience of children with SEN, at both policy and teaching practice level.

Applicant Requirements:

Essential:

  • As this project will involve working with schools, a suitable candidate will only be appointed subject to a full, clear, enhanced DBS check
  • BSc Psychology (Hons) Degree (2:1)
  • Computer proficiency (Microsoft office, SPSS)
  • Good communication skills
  • Good writing ability
  • PG Cert or willingness to gain
  • Undergraduate level quantitative statistical analysis
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team with shared goals
  • Interpersonal skills, ability to relate to others with tact and diplomacy

Desirable:

  • First Class BSc Psychology (Hons) degree
  • MSc in Psychology or Psychological Research Methods
  • Experience conducting psychological experiments
  • Experience working with children in a school environment
  • Experience liaising with school administration and management
  • Special Needs Education experience
  • Experience with Large Data Sets

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 25 CIS Barriers to Learning

Contact information:

Name: Dr Paraic Scanlon

Email: Paraic.scanlon@bcu.ac.uk

Telephone Number: 0121 202 8532


Title: An evaluation of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service: Understanding the effectiveness of psychological interventions offered on Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

School: Social Sciences

Application Number Reference Number:  26

Supervisory Team: Dr Athfah Akhtar, Dr Panagiotis Rentzelas and Dr Silvio Aldrovandi

Statistics show that individuals from BME communities experience comparable, if not higher levels of CMHDs. However, there is no clear evidence to show how well individuals from BME backgrounds engage with psychological interventions and whether these interventions are effective in treating this population. The aim of the PhD will be to use the rich data that is collected by IAPT services which currently is underutilised. Through this PhD the prospective candidate will apply innovative statistical data analysis techniques to see whether evidence-based psychological interventions offered by IAPT services are effective in treating common mental health disorders (CMHDs) for BME groups.

Applicant Requirements:

Essential:

  • As this project will involve working with schools, a suitable candidate will only be appointed subject to a full, clear, enhanced DBS check
  • BSc Psychology (Hons) Degree (2:1)
  • Computer proficiency (Microsoft office, SPSS)
  • Good communication skills
  • Good writing ability
  • PG Cert or willingness to gain
  • Undergraduate level quantitative statistical analysis
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team with shared goals
  • Interpersonal skills, ability to relate to others with tact and diplomacy

Desirable:

  • First Class BSc Psychology (Hons) degree
  • MSc in Psychology or Psychological Research Methods
  • Experience of working with mental health populations or in NHS mental health services.
  • Candidates who are quantitative focussed and experienced in large data sets.

Social Sciences School Phd Proposal - 26 CIS An Evaluation of

Contact information:

Athfah Akhtar

Email: Athfah.Akhtar@bcu.ac.uk

Telephone: 0121 331 6215


Title: Establishing local health priorities through data integration for a West Midlands super-partnership: Supporting the development of Primary Care Networks

School:  School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  27

Supervisory Team: Dr Angela Hewett, Dr Emma Bridger, Dr Kyle Brown, Dr Jeffrey Wood

Within the context of changing demographic health needs and stretched NHS services, primary care networks (PCNs) were established to build on current primary care services and enable integration with a variety of allied health services. To deliver proactive, personalised and coordinated health and social care, PCNs are required to collate and integrate data across networks. These data range from local demographics and service usage to mortality and morbidity patterns. This project will facilitate and document the integration of data according to the needs of a West Midlands super-partnership supporting 9 PCNs, providing recommendations on local health priorities and how to better enable data integration for PCNs locally and regionally.

Applicant Requirements:

Essential:

  • BSc in Public Health, Health Informatics, Psychology, Behavioural Science (Hons) Degree (2:1)
  • Advanced level quantitative statistical analysis
  • Computer proficiency (Microsoft office, SPSS)
  • Good communication skills
  • Good writing ability
  • PG Cert or willingness to gain
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work as a member of a team with shared goals
  • Interpersonal skills: ability to relate to others with tact and diplomacy

Desirable:

  • First Class BSc Psychology (Hons) degree
  • MSc in Public Health, Health Informatics, Health Psychology, Psychological Research Methods, Behavioural Science (or similar)
  • Experience of conducting experiments or randomised controlled trials
  • Experience of writing up for publication
  • Postgraduate/advanced level quantitative statistical analysis
  • Experience of using R and/or coding
  • Experience of and or active interest in using public health surveillance data
  • Experience of and or active interest in health systems planning
  • Experience of and interest in local and national health policy (i.e. experience of local authority Health and Wellbeing boards)

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 27 CIS Primary Care Networks.

Contact information:

Name: Dr Angela Hewett

Email: angela.hewett@bcu.ac.uk

Telephone number: 0121 202 4205


Title: Place Based Community Engagement: Participatory Action Research in Birmingham, UK.

School: School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  28

Supervisory Team: Prof Harris Beider, Dr Dionne Taylor, Mr Kusminder Chahal

Birmingham City University’s School of Social Science is offering a 3 year fully funded PhD opportunity for a capable social scientist. Birmingham 2029 is the School’s flagship community-university engagement project. The PhD is central to the transformation the project wants to achieve.

The PhD is guided by ethnographic and participatory action research approaches and will give the student an opportunity to conduct in-depth, critical, qualitative research that may focus on one or two in-depth place-based participatory studies.

Candidates can apply from a range of social science disciplines, although it is important for them to be highly motivated and have an interest in place based community engagement/development. They should have strong qualitative skills (or would be able and willing to develop them) to undertake the PhD beginning in September 2020.

Applicant Requirements:

Applicants should hold a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) with a Master’s in a relevant Social Sciences subject desirable. Relevant research experience would be desirable particularly in a community setting.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 28 CIS Place Based

Contact information:

Name: Professor Harris Beider

Email: harris.beider@bcu.ac.uk

Tel:  0121 331 5656


Title: Youth participation and activism in urban change: A participatory action research project

School: School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  29

Supervisory Team: Dr Geraldine Lee-Treweek, Dr Olga Fotakopoulou, Dr Kate Thomson, Loreen Chikwira, Kusminder Chahal (advisor)

Birmingham City University’s School of Social Science is offering a 3 year fully funded PhD opportunity for a capable social scientist. The School is embarking on an ambitious flagship community-university engagement project called Birmingham 2029 and the PhD is central to the transformation the project wants to achieve.

The PhD candidate will focus on young people’s engagement in activism in Birmingham, examining young people’s understandings and attitudes towards engagement with local activism. Working with a community partner and young people you will co-design and co-produce a participatory approach that includes an action research project (youth-led), focusing on processes and impacts of youth community activism.  You will be supported and will work with supervisors who have experience of youth led participatory action research, community work and public policy, along with specialists from the community partner.

Candidates can apply from a range of social science disciplines, although it is important for them to be highly motivated and have an interest in place based community engagement/development and young people. They should have strong qualitative skills (or would be able and willing to develop them) to undertake the PhD beginning in September 2020.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants should hold a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) and desirably a Master’s in a relevant Social Sciences subject. Relevant research experience would be desirable particularly in a community setting.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 29 CIS Youth Participation

Contact information:

Name: Dr Geraldine Lee-Treweek

Email: Geraldine.lee-treweek@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 07795320113



Self-Funded PhD Opportunities

Title: Exploring the value of non-pharmacological stammering interventions from the experiences of adults who stammer

School: School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  6

Supervisory TeamDr Aaisha Farooqi, Dr Helen Jenkins, and Dr Ian Mundy

Stammering is a speech disorder with significant socio-emotional consequences. However, studies evaluating the efficacy of stammering interventions have overwhelmingly reported on behavioural treatment programmes and neglected newer, more holistic approaches which aim to bring about improvements in individuals’ psychological wellbeing.

Furthermore, there is a dearth of research exploring the views of adults who stammer concerning their therapy experiences and long-term outcomes. Using predominantly qualitative research methods, the current PhD will explore various stammering interventions with a focus on the experiences of adults who stammer, and aim to inform recommendations to speech and language therapists supporting people affected by stammering.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 6 CIS Exploring the value of non-pharmacological stammering interventions

Contact information:

Name: Dr Aaisha Farooqi

Email: aaisha.farooqi@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 6594  / 07871 305486


Title: Exploring the impact of touchscreen technologies on cognitive and social development of children

School: School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  8

Supervisory TeamDr Olga Fotakopoulou (School of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology), Dr Jane O’Connor (School of Education, Department of Childhood, Youth and Community), Dr Shannon Ludgate (School of Education, Department of Childhood, Youth and Community)

In the 21st century, children from a very young age are growing up in a digital world (Marsh et al., 2019) surrounded by a wide range of technological devices on a daily basis.

This PhD study proposes to build on previous research to explore the impact of the use of touchscreen technologies (iPad and tablet devices) on pre-school and school-aged children’s cognitive and social development, children’s views and experiences, and practices, implications and benefits of technology use as reported by parents. A mixed-methods research design will be employed to investigate the impact of touchscreens on children’s cognitive and social development, children’s voices and parental views and practices.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 8 CIS Exploring the impact of touchscreen technologies

Contact information:

Name: Dr Olga Fotakopoulou

Email: Olga.Fotakopoulou@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 333 6641


Title: Coercion and controlling behaviours in intimate relationships: An exploratory study

School: School of Social Sciences

Application Reference Number:  11

Supervisory TeamDr Natalie Harrison, Dr Chrisa Pornari, Dr Deborah Earnshaw & Dr Laura Hammond

In the UK, coercive and controlling behaviours are defined as “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality” (Home Office, 2015). Since the implementation of these behaviours into the UK definition of domestic violence, recorded offences have steadily increased. Despite this, there is little evidence within the research literature to show if people understand what constitutes coercion and control, and whether or not they can recognise these behaviours (either as victims or as perpetrators).

This PhD aims to (1) explore current prevalence and perceptions of coercive and controlling behaviours, (2) to explore how people describe and make sense of these behaviours within an intimate relationship and (3) to develop a tool, to measure coercion and control.

Social Sciences School PhD Proposal - 11 CIS Coercion and controlling behaviours

Contact information:

Name: Dr Natalie Harrison

Email: natalie.harrison@bcu.ac.uk

Tel: 0121 331 7253