Fully funded ESRC PhD studentship at NCRM: Virtual learning of advanced research methods

NCRM news
Kaisa Puustinen

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD studentship on 'Virtual learning of advanced research methods' to begin in October 2015.

We are currently seeking applications for a PhD studentship exploring how advanced social science research methods are taught and learned. The studentship is supported by the new ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, and is located at the NCRM's Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton. This workpackage is led by Professor Melanie Nind, Co-Director of NCRM. It will to contribute to a small but expanding pedagogic literature on the teaching of social research methods. We aim to work in dialogue with strategic leaders, teachers, learners and researchers in advanced research methods to examine the pedagogical challenges, demands and processes involved in this field, ultimately informing understanding and practice in the teaching of research methods within the UK academy and beyond. The studentship will support new doctoral research examining the potential of new technologies for the teaching and learning of advanced social research methods. The successful applicant will work with new technologies such as virtual learning environments, e-learning, web-based/asynchronous, computer-mediated or blended learning to enhance advanced methodological competence. The successful applicant will generate insights into the interaction between technological and pedagogic advances in relation to advanced social science research methods.

To find out more about the NCRM research programme, please go to NCRM Research web pages. For informal enquiries contact Professor Melanie Nind.


How to apply

For a funding application form contact NCRM administrator Shavi Parhar.

For application to the studentship please apply to the doctoral programme online.

Deadline for both: Friday 27th March at 17.00.

Further details of the programme can also be found at the University of Southampton's Education school's postgraduate research pages.

Please note, applications for funding and study are separate. If you are offered the funding then this will be accompanied by a place to study. You may, however, be offered a place to study without being offered the studentship, and if you are reliant on the funding to take up your place then you may of course decline the study offer.

Please indicate in the funding section of the application to study that you wish to be considered specifically for this studentship, and e-mail ed-pgr.fshs@soton.ac.uk and M.A.Nind@soton.ac.uk to indicate you have applied.


The doctoral experience

The successful applicant will be supervised by Melanie Nind, Sarah Lewthwaite (who is the research fellow on the project) and another colleague from the Southampton Education School. The applicant will benefit from being part of the research team and of the National Centre for Research Methods more widely. The student is expected to bring their own interests to the study and, within the remit of the project, to develop a study that has professional and personal interest to them. The student will follow the accredited pathway, Mixed Methods in Educational Research.



The studentship will cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants and provide a Standard Maintenance Grant and Research Training Support Grant. International Students from outside the EU may also apply, but will be liable for the difference between UK/EU and International (OS) tuition fees (UK/EU: £3,996, OS: £14,955, 2015/16 rate, subject to increase).


Further Information


The successful applicant will be expected to undertake original academic research towards the award of a doctoral degree. Key responsibilities also include:

  • participating in theoretical development
  • publishing findings in appropriate media
  • presenting findings at conferences and seminars
  • active involvement in academic and professional development
  • to comply with the Regulations governing the degree programme as laid out in Section V of the University Calendar
  • to comply with the Code of Practice for Higher Degree Regulations


For the doctoral award, at the end of the 3 years of study research, PhD students must have demonstrated through their thesis:

  • the creation and interpretation of new knowledge through original research or other advanced scholarship, or of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline and merit publication;
  • a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or an area of professional practice; 
  • the general ability to conceptualize, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;
  • a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.


Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches.


And holders will have:

  • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.


Person Specification:

Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience:

For doctoral research, applicants will normally be expected to have one or more of the following:

  • a degree, normally with at least class 2(i) or equivalent, in education or a relevant social science subject;
  • a relevant master's qualification or equivalent;
  • evidence of prior professional practice or learning that meets the University's or Accredited Institution's criteria and good practice guidelines for accreditation of prior experiential and/or certificated learning.

Applicants whose first language is not English will also be required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of English as defined in the University Calendar's Section IV - Regulations for Admission to Degree Programmes, Appendix 2 and in the University's Admission Policy on English Language Proficiency.
Compliance with Section IV of the University Calendar: Admissions to Degree Programme.


Aptitude for Research Programme:

  • The programme is within the applicant's capabilities.
  • The applicant is capable of sustaining research at doctoral level.
  • The applicant is capable of completing a higher degree within the required length of candidature
  • Evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study.
  • Preliminary knowledge of research techniques


Problem Solving and Initiative:

  • Ability to develop understanding of complex problems and apply in-depth knowledge to address them.
  • Potential to develop expertise in new areas of the subject.


Management and Teamwork:

  • Ability to work effectively with others to achieve research goals.


Special Requirements for the funded studentship:

  • The successful applicant for the funded studentship will demonstrate
  • An interest in advanced social science research methods (essential). See NCRM website for more information about the focus the National Centre for Research Methods.
  • Prior engagement with applying social science research methods (essential)
  • Prior involvement in teaching social science research methods (desirable)
  • An interest in learning and teaching using new technologies (essential)
  • Experience, as a student/practitioner or researcher of learning and teaching using new technologies (essential)
  • Potential to complete a doctoral study that will enhance understanding of the use new technologies (virtual learning environments, e-learning, web-based/asynchronous/computer-mediated or blended learning to advance pedagogy for methodological competence (essential).