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ESRC Network studentship

Posted on 17 February 2020

ESRC Network studentship

The Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York and the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds are pleased to offer one PhD studentship (UK/EU tuition fees + stipend at UK research council rates), funded by the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership ESRC Network Awards, which is available to UK and EU applicants only.


The successful candidate will join an interdisciplinary network entitled ‘Urban Citizenship and Informality: New dynamics in the context of global urbanisation’ across the Universities of Sheffield, York and Leeds.They will work independently but alongside two other PhD students researching related projects. The students will collectively benefit from the support and expertise of supervisors in urban studies, politics, human rights, sociology, and international development, and will have the chance to work closely with civil society partners as part of the network.

In the context of global urbanisation, citizenship is a dominant theme, with citizenship struggles responding to political and economic crises such as the rise of populism and austerity. These intersecting trends create new forms of exclusion and inequality, which may entrench or expand patterns of informality. Such developments create challenges and opportunities for urban citizenship futures, as these in-between spaces may weaken state control and formal democracy, while also imagining a different relationship between urban citizens and state. The network will explore these issues through interdisciplinary and comparative approaches.


In cities across the world, groups marginalised by austerity, privatisation and poverty are ‘self-authoring’ conceptions of rights and citizenship at the margins of the state. This studentship aims to explore these processes of ‘self-authorship’ in the context of increasing informality. It will analyse city-based articulations of rights and citizenship which move from the margins to the centre, from mobilisation to law, and from the bottom upwards, where both rights and citizenship are created, shaped and transformed by context rather than simply interpreted in context. A comparative approach will explore case studies from both Northern and Southern contexts, for example comparing a South African with a northern UK city. 


The project will be supervised by Professor Paul Gready (Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York) and Dr Andrew Wallace (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds). The successful candidate will also benefit from collaboration with network partners JustFair and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), who will assist with access to case studies and datasets. Opportunities for engagement with these and potentially other organisations in the sector that arise throughout the study will provide invaluable insights into the co-production of research with non-academic partners and research impact.

About you

You will have a first class or good upper second class degree in politics, sociology, urban studies or similar disciplines. Research excellence may be evidenced either by previous academic work, through recent undergraduate or postgraduate studies, or through practice-based experience. Whilst some knowledge of either qualitative or ethnographic research would be advantageous, supervisors will support the successful applicant to access relevant training in research to help them to develop their own skills.

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 20 March 2020.

There are two steps to the application process.

Firstly, please apply for either:

  • a PhD in Politics (if you have already completed an MA programme including at least 60 credits of core social sciences research methods training (not including dissertation) within the past five years
  • an MA in Social Research (if you do not meet the requirements outlined above for direct entry to the PhD programme)

You can apply online for the PhD in Politics. Please name Paul Gready as your preferred supervisor and select 'ESRC' as your funding source. Please also use the following title for your research proposal 'Urban Citizenship and Informality: New dynamics in the context of global urbanisation' to help us identify your interest in the scholarship.

You can apply online for MA Social Research.


You should complete these steps sequentially as you will need to enter your University of York programme application number on the scholarship application form.

Interviews for the PhD will be held during week beginning 30 March 2020.

Find out more

For more information email