Aston University, Birmingham
  • The Midlands Graduate School (MGS) has received significant funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • MSG is a consortium of Midlands universities, including Aston University
  • Its aim is to ensure the Midlands remains at the forefront of methodological advancements in social science. 

Aston University is one of a number of institutions set to receive funding for 340 new PhD places across the Midlands to train the next generation of social scientists. 

The Midlands Graduate School (MGS), a consortium of Midlands universities including Aston University, has received significant funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) that will advance research training provision for the next generation of social scientists and ensure that the Midlands remains at the forefront of methodological advancements in social science.

The MGS partnership will recruit up to 68 PhD students per year for the next five years, including a possibility of 10 scholarships for PhD candidates at Aston University. 

The MGS offers a step-change in training the next generation of social scientists. Postgraduate researchers will work within a stimulating multi-centre research environment where cutting edge training is responsive to the changing needs of a range of social science disciplines. It will also collaborate closely with non-academic partners and engage with a wide range of local, regional and national organisations from the public, private and third sectors to ensure the funded projects have real-world social and economic impact. 

The MGS will position itself as a central England hub for social science training and impact, delivering annual regional PhD conferences as well as a range of training events open to all PhD students in the Midlands region. 

The first cohort of students will be recruited to start in October 2024.

Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, MGS institutional lead for Aston University, said: 

“MGS offers unparallel opportunities for PhD candidates and we are looking forward to welcoming them at Aston University. 

“We aim to provide inspiring research environment that will help students to expand their possibilities.”

The Midlands Graduate School consortium consists of the Universities of Aston, Warwick, Birmingham, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Monfort and Loughborough. The two areas of specialisation to which students can submit proposals previously hosted by Aston University - Area Studies and Management and Business and Finance - will now be also joined by Sociology and Health and Wellbeing. 

Professor Richard Tunney, head of Aston University’s School of Psychology, which hosts the Health and Wellbeing pathway, said: 

“Postgraduate research is a key focus of our strategy, and this is a significant step toward meeting our aspirations as a world-class institution."

Professor Zoe Radnor, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, said:

“We are thrilled to be part of the Midlands Graduate School consortium, receiving significant funding from the ESRC. 

“This partnership marks a pivotal step in advancing social science research and training. 

“With the opportunity to recruit up to 68 PhD students annually, including potential scholarships at Aston University, we are positioned to significantly influence the future of social science research. 

“Our aim is to cultivate an inspiring and dynamic research environment, fostering the growth and development of our students. 

“We eagerly anticipate welcoming the new cohort of students and are confident that this initiative will enhance our standing as a central hub for social science training and impact in England.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7446 910063 or email:

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