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LSS PhD Studentships 2016

PLEASE NOTE: Applications for our 2016 LSS PhD studentships are now closed. Information on 2017 studentships will be made available in December.

PhD Studentships in the School of Languages and Social Sciences

The School of Languages and Social Sciences (LSS) invites applications for one fully-funded and five fees-only PhD studentships from strong candidates in any of the research areas covered by the School. The studentships are for full-time study over three years, commencing in October 2016.

LSS is a multi-disciplinary research-focused School which brings together researchers in the areas of Languages (French, German, Spanish), Translation Studies, Politics and International Relations, Sociology and Policy, and English Language. Further information on the School’s research areas can be found here.

All candidates will initially be considered for the fully-funded studentship. For candidates who are unsuccessful in securing the fully-funded studentship, the School will offer up to five fees-only bursaries.

1 October 2016 start date with completion date of 30 September 2019

Financial Support

Will be provided to the successful applicant to cover the Home/EU fees rate (£4,052 in academic year 2015/6) plus a maintenance grant at the standard AHRC/ESRC rate (currently £14,057) with the corresponding standard increases in subsequent years. Applicants from outside the EU may apply for these studentships but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees (Overseas tuition fees are currently £12,500 in academic year 2015/6 so the difference to pay will be in the region of £8,448 per year).

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or good upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject area. They should have, or be near to completing, a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters or equivalent. An overall merit grade with merit in the dissertation is normally required.

How to apply

Apply by completing the
Postgraduate research application form including:

  • The reference number:

  • A substantial outline of your proposed research (see below)

  • 2 written references

  • Photocopies of your first and Masters degree certificates and a transcript of your grades

  • Evidence of an approved English language qualification (if required)

Your application and proposal will be reviewed by a selection panel and short-listed candidates will be invited to interview. Interview dates to be confirmed.

For more details on how to apply please contact:

Mr Dan Thomson, LSS Research Manager
Email: d.thomson1@aston.ac.uk
Tel: ++44 (0)121 204 3972

Closing Date: 29 February 2016
 (at 23.59)


The Research Proposal (8-12 pages) 

You are required to:

  1. Outline an area of (possibly cross-disciplinary) study and demonstrate a familiarity with that area in bibliographical terms 
  2. Specify a focus for research which may be expressed in various forms, e.g. hypothesis, question and problem. You must provide details of:  
  • Your understanding of the subject at an appropriate level and highlight the scope for doctoral research
  • Your expected outcome (e.g. descriptive, explanatory, pedagogic) 
  • Which field the research will contribute to
3. Demonstrate an awareness of an appropriate research tradition (or paradigm) which will provide a focus for your project
4. Show a basic understanding of at least one appropriate theoretical model that will be used to analyse data for your study
5. Draft a plan (in line with 3 and 4 above) of how the research will be carried out over the time allowed.

Organisation of the Proposal:

  • Title 
    Identify the precise topic and  indicate the approach you plan to take, if possible. 
  • Introduction 
    This should identify the relevant research area, show why the research is worth doing and indicate what you hope to achieve.
  • Aims and Objectives 
    This expands on the first of the above topics.  In this section you should clearly set out the aim of your research, providing you with an opportunity to develop your research question and hypothesis and specify the intended outcomes.  This should be done with reference to relevant literature.  Where appropriate, there should also be reference to your individual and institutional situation in which you intend to carry out the research.
  • Orientation to Previous Research 
    This builds on the previous section and sets your work more explicitly in the context of previous work and wider issues. You should set out a justification for your own research in the context of other studies, showing how it builds on and/or orientates to these.  The section should demonstrate to the reader that you have familiarised yourself with the subject and are acquainted with current debates related to it. 
  • Data 
    This section should indicate on which data the research is planned to be carried out.
  • Methodology 
    In this section you will need to provide a justification for your methodological approach and you should expect to include the following:

    -A statement of the paradigm and tradition(s) within which you will work, a description of the data collection and procedures to be used, including work to be done in archives and a justification for these (showing why alternatives were rejected)

    -A consideration of practical issues (e.g. permissions, gaining entry, ethics) showing that data collection is possible

    -The analytical approach that you plan to adopt.
  • Timetable 
    Present a realistic timetable for the research, including research visits abroad, corresponding to the time available for the project (usually three years for a full-time and 4-6 years for  a part-time PhD, including writing-up).
  • References 
    All references to academic works should be presented consistently, in a standard format.


Contacting a supervisor

Finding an appropriate supervisor who is an expert in your chosen area of research is an essential part of the application process. We recommend that you look at the staff subject group pages here which will enable you to determine whether there is a good match between your research interests and LSS.  

If there is a member of staff whose research interest matches your own, we recommend that you contact them directly with a copy of your research proposal and discuss this further with them. In addition to contacting a prospective supervisor you also need to submit a formal application. If you are successful in identifying a supervisor through this method it is essential that you indicate this on your application form. Please be advised that a formal decision on your application can only be made once the formal application has been submitted via the online form.