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York academics lead report into future of social science PhDs

Posted on 18 June 2020

Researchers at the University of York are to lead a review of social science PhDs to ensure the next generation of social scientists remain world-leading and contribute to research in a fast-changing landscape.

The review, commissioned by the The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will inform doctoral training strategies and contribute to wider discussions on the development of doctoral training across research councils. The work will be carried out in collaboration with independent research consultants, CFE Research.


Dr Sally Hancock from York’s Department of Education is principal investigator on the project. She said: "York can provide key insights into postgraduate study, student aspirations and the fit between training and outcomes.

“It's important that training provides graduates with the skills needed by current and future employers. They must be able to face the global challenges of the future. The review builds on our previous research on access to postgraduate study and PhD employment outcomes, and our recent report highlighting the absence of reliable data on these issues.”


The review will gather evidence from a range of sources and stakeholders to ensure a diversity of perspectives, adding to ESRC’s understanding of national and international doctoral education.

ESRC’s Executive Chair, Professor Jennifer Rubin, said: “The Economic and Social Research Council invests in research students to contribute to ensuring that UK social science remains world-leading.

“Our focus is on excellence. Our aim is for ESRC PhD training to represent the state of the art internationally, recognised for its rigour and the quality of our graduates.

“The aim of this review is to ensure our training is fit for the future, continues to represent sector-leading practice and enhances the skills and capabilities needed by current and future employers.”


The University of York is a leading partner in the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, a consortium of universities funded by ESRC to support high-quality doctoral student training.