PhD Studentship in Social Care, Social Work and Social Policy

University of South Wales

About the Programme

The University of South Wales (USW) are delighted to offer fully funded Wales Graduate School for the Social Sciences (WGSSS) (ESRC DTP) studentships in Social Care, Social Work and Social Policy starting in October 2024.

USW has a thriving and diverse research culture. The recruitment of exceptional postgraduate students from the UK and around the world is central to our research philosophy. The results of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 recognise that in Social Work and Social Policy, 71% of our research is world leading or internationally excellent (4* / 3*). We are also the first in Wales for impact, with more than 80% of our research impact being world leading or internationally excellent (4* / 3*).  At USW, we pride ourselves on not only the strength of our research but also the opportunities and experiences made available to our students. This is reflected in USW being voted the top university in the UK in the recent Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES 2023).

The Centre for Social Policy at the University of South Wales is a leading hub for social and public policy analysis. We have strengths in a range of areas of social and public policy including global social policy; European youth policy; wellbeing; displacement and development; geopolitics of energy; climate change; citizen involvement and participation; governance and scrutiny; equality and outcome assessments.

We recommend that applicants read through the profiles of our academics, covering the broad area of Social Policy. We welcome applications that cover the intersectionality of social sciences/social policy (broadly speaking) with cognate issues in social care, the arts, humanities and creative industries.  

Duration of study:

The duration of study is dependent on prior research experience and training needs which will be assessed by completing an Initial Development Needs Analysis (Initial DNA) at the application stage and a Full DNA prior to award if successful.

Durations of study may vary from – 3.5 to 4.5 years full time (or part time equivalent).

This may include:

  • a 1+3.5 programme – support for a research training masters degree (1 year) and PhD (3.5 years), particularly where indicated by the WGSSS’s EDI and Widening Participation goals.

Research in practice placement:

All WGSSS funded students are required to complete a funded Research in Practice placement of 3-months in total. All students will have the opportunity to complete a placement in academia, policy, business or civil society organisations.

Entry Criteria:

To receive WGSSS studentship funding, you must have qualifications or experience equal to an honours degree at a first or upper second-class level, or a masters degree from a UK academic research organisation, or equivalent level. Students with non-traditional academic backgrounds are also welcome to apply.  The ability to successfully complete a postgraduate research degree within the expected timeframe must be demonstrated.

International applicants will need to evidence proficiency in English Language – either IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 5.5. in reading and writing components) or a recent master’s degree from a UK university, or equivalent level.


Applicants are reminded to submit all relevant documents (transcripts, supporting statement, etc) by the deadline. Due to the volume of applications received, incomplete applications will not be considered.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. As part of the interview process, applicants will be asked to give a short presentation and answer a series of panel questions consistent with previous practice on the pathway during the Wales DTP and guided by the WGSSS’s commitments on EDI. Interviews may be held in person but should also be available through Teams for all students who wish to participate in that way.

How to apply:

Applications should be received no later than midday on 5th of January 2024, including all required documents.

The first step is to register with our online service and apply online .

When submitting your application please select MPhil/PhD (Social Policy) for your course choice in the online form.

Please include the following documents with your application:

1) Cover letter (two pages maximum)

The cover letter must include the following bullet points as subheadings:

  • Set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at University of South Wales, and the Social Care, Social Work and Social Policy pathway.
  • Please detail your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study.
  • Provide detail of your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to your proposed research.
  • Drawing on your own background (including your life experiences, journey to/through university, work experiences or volunteering) please provide a summary of why you are ready to undertake a PhD now and how you will flourish as a result of PhD funding. You might include, for example, personal challenges that you have overcome or achievements that you are proud of in your work, study or life experiences and how these map onto the skills required to flourish in a PhD programme. Challenges could include, but are not limited to, protected characteristics, socio-economic status and of being a prospective first-generation student or care- experienced.
  • Reflecting on your own background and/or proposed approach to PhD study and the opportunities which it will present, how will you support diversity and inclusion in the PhD community?

2) Academic CV (two pages maximum)

3) Research proposal

The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:

  • Title, aims and purpose of the research;
  • Brief overview of the academic literature relevant to your field;
  • Proposed design/methods;
  • Academic contributions of your research.
  • Bibliographic References

 4) Two academic or professional references

Candidates must approach referees themselves and include references with their application.

5) Degree certificates and Transcripts (including translations if applicable)

6) If relevant, proof of English Language Competency (see institutional requirements for entry)

For further advice on the application process please contact Alison Crudgington in the Graduate School ([email protected] ).

For a general enquiry or informal discussion about a potential research topic please contact Professor Palash Kamruzzaman ([email protected] ).

Full details of the programme, including details of upcoming webinars, can be found here .

Funding Notes

WGSSS studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students. International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements.  

The studentship funded by the ESRC covers tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £18,622) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant. If you have a disability, you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship.

The WGSSS is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. 

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study.

There is the option to complete research in the medium of Welsh, subject to availability.

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