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ESRC Wales DTC PhD in Social Sciences (Criminology): Estimating Confidence in the Police using Open Source Communications (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R2645
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years
Funding Amount: full UK/EU fees, plus Stipend
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

Project title: Estimating Confidence in the Police using Open Source Communications

Applications are being sought for a prestigious, full-time ESRC Doctoral Training Centre for Wales (Wales DTC) PhD Studentship to be based in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2016.

The project will examine the utility and limitations of Open Source Communications to sense information relating to the policing of public order events. Social media sources (e.g. Twitter) will be examined using information propagation models (contagion) and network analysis to determine the spread and clustering of content related to confidence in policing. Interviews will be undertaken with key stakeholders in the Home Office, Metropolitan Police Service and local police services to determine existing practice in relation to social media monitoring and to gather requirements on how they envisage using these data to inform policing practice. The project will specifically address: i) the utility of social media users as sensors of offline policing phenomena, ii) how such sensors generate information on local police activity (e.g. as victims; as first-hand witnesses; as second-hand observers, and as perpetrators); and iii) the veracity of the content published by these sensors as valid signatures of local police activity.

This award is +3. A +3 studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only.

Supervisors: Dr Matthew Williams & Dr Pete Burnap

Start date: 1 October 2016

Number of Studentships: 1


This studentship consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,057 p.a. for 2015/16, updated each year).

One studentship is very generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Wales-DTC.

Additional funding of the value £750 for a Research Training support grant is available.


Academic criteria: ESRC studentships are highly competitive, candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong 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.


To be eligible for a full award a student must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals).

To be eligible for a fees only award:

  • Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be 'ordinarily resident' in a member state of the EU.

How to Apply

A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in the School of Social Sciences: submitted to the Academic Registry via the Online Admissions Service by the deadline of 12:00pm, 21 January 2016.

The application form must contain the following documents:

1 - Covering letter: 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.

2 - Academic/ Professional Qualifications: Where applicable, academic certificates and transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application by the funding deadline. This should also include proof of English Language Competency.

3 - References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and request a reference to be submitted. A copy of the University’s referee form can be found here. Please ensure your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as we will be using these to help us evaluate your ESRC studentship application.

4 – Personal Statement: Applicants 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.

5 – Miscellaneous Information - Curriculum Vitae: This should include details of academic achievement and any other material relevant to the application. It should be no longer than 2 pages.

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

Guidance Notes:

  • When completing the Programme Details section please specify Social Sciences – Research Degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Social Sciences) with a start date of October 2016.
  • The deadline is absolute and applications received after this specified time and date will not be accepted.

The University will not automatically contact an applicant’s referees.

The deadline for applications is 12:00pm, 21 January 2016.

Cardiff University reserves the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

Further Information

For further information please contact Corinda Perkins on e-mail via or on Telephone via +44 (0)29 2087 0855.

For other ESRC Wales DTC funded projects offered at Cardiff University, please visit our funding webpage for the Centre.

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