ESRC PhD Studentship in Social Sciences: Social Deprivation and Educational Achievement

Applications are being sought for a prestigious full time PhD Studentship, to be based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2014.

This project sets out to explore three main research questions:

  • How do novice teachers construct the link between social deprivation and underachievement?
  • How significant are these constructions in shaping their professional responses?
  • What are the key institutional factors that impact on teachers’ practices aimed at ameliorating the impact of social deprivation on achievement?

The theoretical lenses adopted to account for the persistent under performance of pupils from the most deprived communities can be categorised (Raffo et al 2007) as a combination of factors; macro (i.e. community attitudes towards education) meso (i.e. school culture) to micro (i.e. staff expectations). This studentship project will explore the micro and meso level by illuminating the interaction between novice teachers’ construction of the nature of deprivation and its relationship with pupil achievement, their sense of professional agency, and the institutional logics (Jackall, 1998) they encounter within schools.

The studentship will be a mixed method study utilising an annual survey of novice teachers (sample 1,000), in combination with series of focus of groups (sample 30) to develop an overview of perceptions concerning the links between deprivation and attainment and teachers’ perceived agency. Six in-depth case studies of novice teachers working in secondary schools in high deprivation communities will illuminate how these factors interact over time.

The studentship will be based within the team delivering the Masters in Educational Practice (MEP) which is central to the Welsh government’s workforce development plans. Open to all newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in Wales this is a programme of professional development focussed upon improving outcomes for pupils and ameliorating the impact of poverty.

Supervisors: Prof. Mark Hadfield


This studentship is generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£13726 p.a. for 2013/14, updated each year) and a £750 p.a. research training and support grant.

Deadline: 24 January 2014


Candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree and have completed or be currently completing a Masters degree (preferably an ESRC-recognised Masters or an equivalent background in research training). Applicants with a relevant background in humanities, social science or healthcare degree are also encouraged.

Due to funding restrictions full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. EU Nationals who do not satisfy UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees only award.

Further information on eligibility can be found on our website by following the apply button at the bottom.

About Cardiff University

The University is a member of the Russell Group and internationally recognised as one of Britain’s leading universities.

Our University Graduate College enhances the postgraduate experience by providing an extensive training and support programme.

The University is attractively located at the heart of a modern capital city, providing a high quality of life to our students.

For more information and how to apply, please click the link below: 

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