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PhD Studentship in Social Sciences: Informing Design and Building Capacity for a Digital Social Science Research Methods Platform (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R2193
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years PhD, or 1+3 Masters+PhD
Funding Amount: full UK/EU fees (see eligibility criteria below), plus stipend of £13,590 p.a. (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 COSMOS, SAGE and the ESRC

Key Studentship Information

Applications are being sought for a prestigious (1+3 or +3) full time PhD Studentship, to be based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2014. The research will examine the co-construction and development of a collaborative digital social research platform and will draw on ethnographic, qualitative, digital and mixed method approaches to science, technology, work and pedagogic design.

This studentship will involve working with the Collaborative Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS) team and Sage publications in order to carry out collaborative research that focuses on the design and development of a project with the provisional working title of ‘COSMOS Scholar’; a joint initiative between COSMOS and SAGE Publications Ltd. COSMOS Scholar will aim to provide a pedagogic training environment for new digital social research tools and methods. The aspiration is that this environment will provide and support the analysis of bespoke social media data (e.g. Twitter feeds) alongside curated data sets enabling comparison, triangulation and augmentation of traditional and innovative social science methods. The project will also examine how new big and broad sources of data can be used to teach data analytics and methods that encompass ‘traditional’ statistics and qualitative analysis alongside more cutting-edge approaches to the interrogation of big data.

COSMOS Scholar will provide an environment that enables experimentation, exploration and the application of new and ‘old’ tools and methods through regularly refreshed bespoke data sets of interest (e.g. The 2011 UK Riots, The London Olympics, Scottish Referendum). It will also provide a digital environment where analyses and workflows can be shared, compared and replicated. A range of additional media will support COSMOS Scholar, as a research training resource. The research will utilize ethnography, qualitative, digital and mixed methods.

The award will be made on either a 1+3 or +3 basis. A 1+3 award includes funding for the MSc in Social Science Research Methods followed by the PhD. A +3 studentship provides funding for the three years only, and assumes that the applicant will already have had research training from an appropriate master’s degree.

Research questions/objectives:

Supervisors: Prof. William Housley and Mr. Adam Edwards, Dr Patrick Bindle (SAGE)

Number of Awards Available: 1


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 Research Council National Minimum (£13,726 p.a. for 2013/14, 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: ESRC studentship funding is highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree or have completed or be currently completing a Masters degree (preferably an ESRC recognised Masters or an equivalent background in research training).


How to Apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the deadline of 12.00pm, 21st February 2014. 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 Application Service..

Please specify the School of Social Sciences – Research Degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Social Sciences) with a start date of October 2014 and 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.


Information about the School

Cardiff University is acknowledged as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities, held in high esteem both nationally and internationally. It has gained further recognition recently as one of the UK's top 20 universities and was short listed for the University of the Year title in The Sunday Times University Guide 2013. Cardiff University is also the home of the ESRC funded Wales DTC, 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.

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 (and ranked number one in the UK for social sciences ‘research power’). The School’s academic and research staff and PhD students are engaged in high quality research employing a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, have an excellent publication record and are very active in international collaboration and interdisciplinary projects. About 120 full and part-time PhD students are currently enrolled in our doctoral programme, making ours a large and vibrant postgraduate community.

Further Information

How Applications will be Assessed

The closing deadline for applications is of 12.00pm, 21st February 2014. 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 towards the end of early March 2014.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Vicky Parkin by email to, or by telephone to +44 (0) 2920 870 855 (weekdays, 9am-1pm).