Pre-need Funeral Market and Social Justice

Investigating the structure and regulation of the pre-need funeral market and its contribution to social justice. The School for Business and Society is delighted to offer this postgraduate research studentship opportunity.

  • Funding: A yearly stipend of £19,237 (in line with current UKRI rates) and fee waiver at home student fee rates for three years
  • Academic year: 2024/25
  • Open to: UK (home) students
  • Qualification level: Postgraduate research
Applications for 2024/25 are open until Friday 31 May 2024, 5pm BST

The School for Business and Society was formed in 2022 through a merger between The York Management School and the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. Our research is cross-disciplinary and draws together activities that other universities normally locate in separate Business Schools and Schools of Public Policy. Reflecting York’s long-standing strengths in both of these areas we are the largest organisational unit at the University, and we are at the forefront of the University's mission to be a University for public good.

As part of our investment in the next generation of academic researchers, we are pleased to offer this PhD Project studentship. The successful candidate will join a large and diverse postgraduate research community in the School for Business and Society.


Open to UK (home) students only.

If you are offered the scholarship you must then apply for a place on the PhD in Management or PhD in Social Policy and Social Work (full-time and campus-based) and must take up that place in order to qualify for and accept the scholarship.

This scholarship is not available for part-time or distance learning routes.

You cannot apply for this scholarship if you are already registered on a PhD programme at the University of York

How to apply

Application deadline: Friday 31 May 2024, 5pm BST

Please send your academic CV, degree transcripts/certificates, two academic references, and a covering letter by email to

The covering letter should explain your suitability for the PhD Project with reference to your academic background and interests, as well as the essential and desirable criteria listed. Please ensure that the subject title of your email and covering letter clearly indicate the PhD Project to which you are applying. The deadline for receipt of applications is 17:00 (UK time) on Friday 31 May 2024. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

If you are shortlisted for the post you will be called for an interview via zoom in the week commencing 10 June 2024

How we allocate

The candidate is expected to have a social sciences or humanities background and will have completed a masters-level independent project/dissertation. Familiarity with qualitative methods is essential. It would also be desirable for the candidate to have engaged with a subject relating to one or more of the following: the funeral industry, financialization, marketing, financial literacy or consumer protection. The candidate must demonstrate an interest in the subject matter.

Terms and conditions

The scholarship will pay a yearly stipend of £19,237 (in line with current UKRI rates) and provide a fee waiver at home student fee rates for three years

Contact details

Dr Julie Rugg

Eighteen percent of UK funerals are paid for with funds from pre-need funeral plans, offered by funeral directors, specialist mediating agents and large insurance companies. There are controversies associated with the market, which was brought under the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority in 2022, leading to some company closures and criminal investigations. The proposed studentship will produce the first comprehensive academic study on the development and expansion of the contemporary pre-need funeral market.

It is anticipated that through this studentship the appointed student could potentially explore the following questions:

How has the structure of the pre-need funeral industry evolved over time?
What marketing approaches have been used in the pre-need funeral industry?
How has the government approached regulating the marketing and selling of pre-need funeral plans?
What information resources have been available to help consumers make informed choices regarding pre-need funerals?
Does the pre-need funeral market exacerbate or ameliorate exclusion in the funeral market?

The studentship will be guided by a team of supervisors: Dr Julie Rugg, Dr David Rowe and Dr Matthew Hollow, who each bring a distinctive discipline perspective. The supervisors possess expertise in both contemporary and historical research methodologies relevant to this study. Rugg has published extensively on funeral practice in the UK, with an emphasis on history, management and policy perspectives. Hollow brings expertise in organisational strategy, corporate governance, financial regulation, and financial history. Rowe specialises in contemporary consumer behaviour, marketing theory, and histories of marketing communication

Any questions on this studentship opportunity should be directed towards Dr Julie Rugg,

Contact us

PGR Administration team
+44 (0)1904 325962