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SeNSS Social Sciences Studentships – University of Reading

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  • Funding opportunities in the Social Sciences

SeNSS Social Sciences Studentships

ESRC-funded PhD studentships at Reading (2020)

The University of Reading is delighted to be part of the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS), a prestigious Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. SeNSS will be offering a number of fully funded ESRC doctoral studentships to start in autumn 2020.

SeNSS scholarships include a Research Council rate stipend (currently £15,009 for 2019/20), tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and provide innovative and challenging world-class doctoral training in a dynamic, inter-disciplinary research environment. This includes a wide range of subject-specific, generic and advanced training tailored to your individual needs, as well as opportunities for overseas visits and fieldwork. As a SeNSS doctoral student, you will become part of a cohort of fellow SeNSS students which will offer support and networking opportunities. Studentships are available as +3 (PhD) or four year awards (Master's and PhD) and on a full- or part-time basis.

The University of Reading participates in nine ESRC SeNSS subject pathways, listed further below.

How to apply

1. Apply for a place of admission.  An application for a place on a PhD programme is a separate step to applying for SeNSS funding.  It is very important that you apply for a place of admission on your chosen PhD programme at Reading as soon as possible to enable time for application processing and interview. If you are uncertain of the correct PhD programme, this can be discussed with a prospective supervisor or a School Director of Postgraduate Research Studies for your subject. The online application process will request a research proposal be uploaded; this need not be the final version developed with your prospective supervisor. You may upload an earlier version of the proposal with a note that you are developing it for application to SeNSS. In the 'scholarship applied for' box, write 'SeNSS'.  At the very latest, your admissions application must be made by 20 January 2020 but it will be beneficial to your application to apply well before this deadline.  When you have applied, keep a note of your applicant ID number.

2. Register your interest in SeNSS funding. Send a brief expression of interest to as early as possible setting out the following:

  • your full name
  • a brief paragraph describing your proposed area of research
  • brief details of prior academic qualifications and institutions of study, including degree class
  • the applicant ID number from your application for a place of admission, if you have it yet; as a minimum you should specify to which department and programmes you expect to apply
  • whether you have identified or had contact with a prospective supervisor and their name

We strongly encourage candidates to express an interest as early as possible in the autumn term. Once you have completed this step, your interest will be logged by the Graduate School. You will be provided with a Word template for preparing an early draft of your application and your details will be passed to the lead academic for your subject pathway at Reading.

3. Develop your research proposal and draft application with a supervisor.

You will need to identify a prospective supervisor who is interested in supervising your project. You can contact prospective supervisors yourself by consulting the staff pages of departments relevant to your area (see subject pathways, below). You can also seek guidance from the relevant pathway lead (or School Director of Postgraduate Research Studies) if unsure. Over the autumn term you will need to be developing your application and research proposal proactively and making early contact with your referees so that they can prepare references for you in good time. In this competition, research proposals must be the work of the student applying or your application can be disqualified. However, it is expected that your supervisor will review drafts of your research proposal and application and provide guidance to develop and strengthen your application and proposal as appropriate.

You should send your draft application in Word to by noon 14 January 2020. Pathway leads will select a recommended shortlist of Reading candidates to go forward in the competition.

4. Apply for SeNSS funding via Fluidreview.

If your application is shortlisted by Reading, you will receive instructions on applying via an external online platform called FluidReview by 10 February 2020. Following this submission, shortlisted candidates for SeNSS funding are considered by selection panels at which all ten universities in the SeNSS partnership are represented (see about SeNSS ).

7. Results. Results will be available in Spring 2020.


Eligibility Criteria

In order to receive ESRC studentship funding you must meet the eligibility criteria set out by the ESRC; see SeNSS eligibility criteria for further information. Individual departments can advise about the English language requirements for your chosen PhD programme at Reading.

Enquiries may be sent to


Subject pathways

The University of Reading participates in the nine SeNSS subject pathways, listed below.  Interdisciplinary applications spanning two of the nine pathways are welcomed. If you are seeking a supervisor, use the links and contacts below to help you.

1. Business and Management

Schools/Departments: Henley Business School, School of Agriculture, Policy & Development.
Pathway contact: Dr Gianluca Marcato,  
See some of the Henley Business School's  academic areas  and HBS PhD programmes.

2. Development Studies

Schools/Departments: School of Agriculture, Policy & Development; School of Politics, Economics and International Relations; Department of Geography and Environmental Science.
Pathway contact: Dr Sam Rawlings,
See some of Reading's research in this area. 

3. Economics

Schools/Departments: Department of Economics.
Pathway contact: Dr Stefania Lovo,
See Reading's research and supervisors in this area. 

4. Education

Schools/Departments: Institute of Education.
Pathway contacts: Dr Daisy Powell,; Dr Holly Joseph,
See some of Reading's research and supervisors in this area here and here.

5. Human Geography

Schools/Departments: Department of Real Estate and Planning; School of the Built Environment; Department of Geography and Environmental Science.
Pathway contacts: Professor Kathy Pain,; Dr Richard Nunes,
Reading's research and supervisors in this area:
Real Estate and Planning research and supervisors
Built Environment Research Division
Supervisors in Architecture
Supervisors in Construction Management and Engineering 

6. Linguistics

Schools/Departments: Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics; School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences.
Pathway contacts: Dr Ian Cunnings,; Dr Parvaneh Tavakoli, 
See some examples of Reading's research and supervisors in linguistics below:
Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism
Psycholinguistics Lab
Supervisors in the Department of English language and Applied Linguistics
Supervisors in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language
Research in Language, Literacy and Education

7. Politics and International Studies

Schools/Departments: School of Politics and International Relations
Pathway contact: Dr Rob Jubb,
See Reading's research in this area.

8. Psychology

Schools/Departments: School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Pathway contact: Dr Julia Vogt,
See Reading's  research and supervisors  in this area. 

9. Socio-Legal Studies

Schools/Departments: School of Law
Pathway contact: Dr Charlotte Smith,  
See Reading's research and supervisors in this area.

SeNSS Postdoctoral Fellowships

SeNSS are inviting applications for 6 ESRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellowships to start in October 2020. The fellowships are aimed at providing a career development opportunity for those who are within 12 months of completing their PhD. The fellowship is intended to prepare for the next stage of the research career by supporting the successful applicants in consolidating their PhD through developing publications, work networks, and their research and professional skills.

The call is open to applicants who have completed their PhD at a research organisation that is part of an ESRC DTP or CDT. At the submission deadline, the applicant must either have been awarded a PhD or have submitted their thesis and passed their viva voce with minor corrections, with the expectation that the PhD will be awarded by the fellowship start date. The applicant must have no more than 12 months experience in a research post at the time of the closing date of the competition.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship grant provides funding for up to one year full-time, or up to two years part-time. In exceptional cases, applicants can apply for a fellowship for up to 18 months; however, this must be fully justified by the programme of activities being proposed. Fellowships cover the Fellow's salary costs, indirect and estate costs and up to £10,000 of other costs (e.g. mentoring, travel and subsistence, conference attendance, networking, training and fieldwork).

How to Apply

There is a two-stage process for the scheme: an Expression of Interest stage and an invitation-only Full Stage.  All applicants must complete an initial Expression of Interest and successful applicants will be invited to submit a full application.

If you are interested in applying for an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Reading please contact Dr Anna Frej detailing your name and your proposed SeNSS pathway. The internal deadline for completed Expressions of Interest is 20th January 2020.

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