PhD Studentship Cohort cultures and the ‘student voice’ in creative and media subjects in UK Higher Education.



Launched in 2005, the National Student Survey (NSS) assesses students’ opinions on the quality their college or university undergraduate degree. Students answer 22 core questions, relating to teaching, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources and personal development. Each respondent is also able to record an overall satisfaction score. The NSS is conducted by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and now directly informs the many league tables of UK universities.

This PhD project offers an opportunity to build a longitudinal study around the NSS. The research will explore how the emergence of ‘cohort cultures’ can create spaces for the ‘student voice’ – this may shape expectations and entitlements, which the policy instrument of the NSS is designed to measure. The project will address the following research questions:

  • Do ‘cohort cultures’ exist in UK Higher Education, and if so, what is the impact of on NSS results?
  • Is the NSS a reasonable representation of ‘student voice’ in the UK?
  • How do creative and media students (and teachers) perceive the NSS?
  • How do creative and media students ‘use’ the NSS?
  • What are the metrics of expectation and entitlement, between students and teachers?
  • Is the NSS a reasonable representation of ‘student voice’ in the UK?

The study will analyse the quantitative data from the survey, and then follow this up with more focused qualitative case studies at Bournemouth University, and other UK HEIs. Teachers of creative and media subjects will also form an important research constituency as this project aims to provide a comparative analysis of expectation and entitlement in UK HEIs.

Most research on group dynamics have tended to focus on the pedagogic benefits of cohorts, from studies on collaborative learning (Pennington, 2002; Maher, 2005) to assessment techniques (Jaques & Salmon, 2007). However, work in this area has shown that groups can have their own social identities (Forsyth, 1999) and that a group’s decision making can be significantly shaped by its shared identity (Yanovitsky & Rimal, 2006).

This PhD project will study the emergence of ‘cohort cultures’ in UK HE, and will examine if degree programmes can develop their own ‘personalities’. The research will also examine the ‘conditions of possibility’ for ‘cohort culture’ – specifically the role of subject identity (Bernstein), ‘habitus’ (Bourdieu) and the possibilities for new digital media spaces enhancing such cultures.

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates for this fully-funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years. All candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2.1) and/or an appropriate Masters degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, BU will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project.

To discuss this opportunity further please contact Dr. Richard Berger [email protected]

For details on how to apply please click ‘Apply’ below.

Closing Date: The first call for applications will close on 22nd April 2013.

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