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PhD Studentship in Social Science: Family Support and the Early Years (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R1140
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years, or 1 year + 3
Funding Amount: full tuition fees, plus £13,950 p.a. stipend (updated each year), plus £750 p.a. Research and Training support
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

In partnership with the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Centre and HomeStart

About the studentship

The School of Social Sciences are offering one ESRC studentship for either a 3-year PhD studentship (+3) or a 4-year Masters+PhD studentship (1+3), starting in October 2014.

Applications are invited for PhD proposals on any topic area related to support needs of families with pre-school children and the effectiveness of help provided. Potential topic areas include: father involvement, the needs of particular demographic groups, family support for families in the military and support needs associate with specific challenges such as domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental illness. Service delivery could also be the focus of study, including the role of volunteers in supporting families, the helping relationship, culturally appropriate services, the relationship between universal and specialist approaches and the relationship between voluntary sector and child protection interventions.

Family support and intervention is a high priority and contested social policy area in the UK and internationally. Preventative services are being cut under austerity budgets amid rising concerns about the numbers of court applications for care orders. In England the ‘Troubled Families’ agenda and a social care policy drive that is aimed towards more children being removed from home at an early age and being placed for adoption suggests the need for a careful analysis of the role of early, preventative services in the contemporary context. In Wales there is concern about a rapidly rising rate of children being admitted to care and the potential for analysis of the role of early support to prevent the escalation of family difficulties. The Social Services and Well-being Bill, expected to be enacted early in 2014 will usher in a series of changes to how social care and support to citizens is conceptualised and delivered in Wales, providing rich opportunities for research.

Research proposals should incorporate quantitative analysis of large administrative datasets and may also include qualitative methods. This studentship is co-sponsored by Home-Start UK, providing an excellent opportunity for collaborative, policy-relevant research. The area of investigation should be relevant to the work of Home-start UK). Across the UK more than 16,000 Home-Start volunteers visit families at home each week, supporting parents in situations as diverse as isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness, disability or who are just finding parenting a struggle. They provide non-judgemental practical and emotional support and help build the family’s confidence and ability to cope. Home-Start runs more services and has more volunteers supporting more families than any other family support charity in the UK.

The successful applicant will have the opportunity to work with Home-Start UK’s extensive datasets related to their volunteer delivered home support programme and may have the opportunity to undertake internship placements with Home-start UK. The successful applicant will become a member of the Children’s Social Care Research Centre for Wales, which will be launched in the School of Social Sciences in spring 2014. The studentship-holder will benefit from being part of a network of researchers and doctoral students working on related topics and the centre’s network of relationships with voluntary sector and statutory sector service providers, service users and carers and policy makers.

Supervisors: Dr. Sally Holland and Dr. Luke Sloan.


This studentship is very generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It covers full UK/EU tuition fees and includes a Doctoral Stipend matching the UK Researh Council National Minimum (£13,950 p.a. for 2012/13, updated each year). It also includes £750 p.a for Research and Training support.


Residency Criteria: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education. EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement are eligible for a fees only award, provided that they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of their proposed programme of study.

Academic Criteria: Candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a Masters degree (preferably an ESRC recognised Masters or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a +3 award.


How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the deadline of12.00pm, 6th December 2013. Note that the deadline is absolute and applications received after the specified time and date will not be accepted

Covering letter and CV: Please send in a covering letter outlining what makes you a suitable candidate (this should cover what skills/knowledge you bring to the project, what aspects you find particularly interesting and any ideas you may they have on how it could be developed). This should be no more than 2 pages. Please also specify whether you wish to apply on a +3 or 1+3 basis. You will also need to submit a CV with this.

A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in the School of Social Sciences: - submitted to the Academic Registry via the">Online Applications Service.

Please specify the School of Social Sciences – Research Degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Social Sciences) with a start date of October 2014 whether you are applying for a +3 or 1+3 award.

Applicants should complete the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application form (approx 500 words) to summarise how they would approach the given specified research project.

They should use the ‘Personal Statement’ section (approx 500 words) of the application form to compliment the information given in the covering letter and talk more about their background and interest in postgraduate study.

Academic References: all applications require two references to be submitted in support. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as we will be using these to help us evaluate your ESRC studentship application.

Academic Transcripts: where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application by the funding deadline.

If you have any queries about the application process, these should be directed to Vicky Parkin via the contact details below.

How applications will be assessed

The closing deadline for applications is 12.00pm, 6th December 2013. Application forms will be assessed by a panel made up of the project supervisors and the Director of Graduate Studies, following which short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. We expect interviews to take place in mid-January 2014 with candidates notified of the date in mid-December.


If you have any queries regarding the studentship please contact Vicky Parkin, +44 (0) 2920 870 555 or by email

Information about the School:

Cardiff School of Social Sciences is a large School with over 160 staff and a thousand undergraduate and postgraduate students. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise rated almost all of its research to be of an international standard, with 55% of it either "world leading"; or "internationally excellent". This rating, together with the size of the School, places it amongst the top five centres in the UK. Since its creation in 2000, the School has attracted over £18 million of research funds.

Cardiff University is the home of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Centre, part of a national network of 21 accredited Doctoral Training Centres across the UK judged by the ESRC to deliver truly excellent postgraduate training provision.


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