ESRC PhD Studentship Substantive Representation of Ethnic Minorities in the UK Parliament

Applications are invited for a 3-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD Studentship based at CoDE supervised by the team lead by Dr Maria Sobolewska, and Dr Rob Ford. The project provides a studentship covering UK/EU tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend at Research Council rates (£13,590 in 2012/13). Funding will be for three years of full-time study (+3 Scheme), starting in October 2013 with an expected submission date of September 2016.

Research Objectives

The main substantive question for this project will be: Is there a relationship between substantive and descriptive representation? To answer this question the student will explore the wealth of currently under-used data on parliamentary activities of British MPs in Hansard records, and exploring the three step change points in the history of minority representation in which the number of black and minority MPs increased significantly: 1987 (when the first black MPs were elected), 1997 (which featured a sharp increase), and 2010 (when the numbers of black and Asian MPs nearly doubled).

Data collected will include all forms of recorded parliamentary activity, including debates in the House of Commons, Parliamentary Committee activity, Parliamentary Questions for Written Answers and their answers, and other motions and statements. This data can be analysed using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The methods chosen may include qualitative analysis of the narratives around ethnicity and interests of ethnic minorities, content analysis of parliamentary speeches and questions for written answers, and quantitative statistical analysis of large quantities of parliamentary text (“corpus analysis”). The student will be encouraged to develop links with the Corpus linguistics group at the University of Lancashire in order to learn and apply the innovative textual analysis techniques this group have been developing.

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The PhD will be hosted at the Department of Politics, University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is part of the ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre (NWDTC), and the student will be based in the Social Statistics accredited pathway. The student will be embedded within the research team at the University of Manchester, and will be supervised by a team led by Dr Sobolewska and Dr Ford.

Admissions Criteria


Applicants should hold a minimum 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in politics, sociology or related fields, and a Masters-level degree in a relevant discipline at Merit level or equivalent. Experience with quantitative methods will be a plus.


How to apply

Applicants are required to provide: (i) an academic CV; (ii) official academic transcripts; (iii) contact details of two suitable referees; and (iv) a cover letter outlining your suitability for the study and your research experience to date.

Applications and enquiries should be emailed to:, via the apply button below. The successful candidate will be required to submit a full University of Manchester on-line application, plus supporting documents (two academic references, degree transcripts and a sample of writing- an academic essay or part of a dissertation) to fulfil the normal admissions process.


Deadline: 10th April 2013.

Candidates may be called for interview week commencing 15th April 2013.


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