Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates For the latest information and advice see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions
Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba


Below you will find comprehensive details about each of our 15 pathways. The pathways are crucial to the functioning of the SGSSS and are broadly analogous to academic disciplines, with some representing strategically important interdisciplinary research areas (e.g. Environment, Climate Change & Energy). Our pathways are grouped into three Hubs; Economies, Mind and Technologies, Society and Welfare, and People and Place.

Economies, Mind and Technologies

Accounting, Finance, Business and Management (AFBM) brings together two cognate pathways from the earlier SGSSS DTC (Accounting and Finance (AF) and Business and Management (BM)), and a research community from seven HEIs (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde).

AFBM is an interdisciplinary field of study drawing on a range of social science subjects including sociology, anthropology, education, political science, economics and social psychology. It embraces diverse social science methodological traditions and research methods. Research in AFBM is directly relevant to the ESRC challenge of Global Economic Performance, Policy and Management and directly contributes to the ESRC challenge of Environment, Energy and Resilience. Research in AF has been historically supported by the British Accounting and Finance Association (BAFA) and its regional Scottish Area Group (SAG) (active for over 20 years) as well as The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), links which have provided opportunities for our students to engage actively with the private sector.

The pathway provides an outstanding research environment within which approximately 500 doctoral students are currently hosted. In the REF 2014 period there were 373 PhD completions across the pathway partners. Provision of +3 and 1+3 doctoral training is available. Students access high quality core training through completion of an MRes or MSc at one of the seven pathway HEIs. All MRes/MSc programmes align with the 2015 ESRC Postgraduate Training and Development Guidelines.

ESRC-funded studentships in Accounting, Finance, Business and Management are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

EdinburghAngelica GonzalezPathway Convenor
AberdeenKarolina KazimierczukPathway Representative
GlasgowAdina DudauPathway Representative
Heriot WattKenneth Weir
Pathway Representative
St AndrewsShona RussellPathway Representative
StirlingDionysia DionysiouPathway Representative
StrathclydeKathy HamiltonPathway Representative

The Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics (SGPE) is the prime example of a collaborative social-science postgraduate training programme in UK higher education. It is run by a consortium of eight Scottish departments of economics: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Stirling, St. Andrews, and Strathclyde. For further information about the SGPE MSc programme, visit the SGPE website.

Core training is delivered through one of three 1-year taught masters programmes: MSc Economics; MSc Economics (Econometrics); and, MSc Economics (Finance).  All three MSc degrees are awarded by the University of Edinburgh and are taught in Edinburgh by Economics faculty from the eight Scottish universities who belong to the SGPE. All three MSc programmes provide students with a rigorous training in core Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics, and offer the opportunity to apply the core ideas in a number of applied options.  This is followed by 3 years of PhD by dissertation in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Stirling, St. Andrews, or Strathclyde. During this period, students obtain further advanced training through a variety of delivery mechanisms. The links between departments, the shared MSc experience and the annual SGPE conference for PhD and MSc students fosters a strong postgraduate community.

ESRC-funded studentships in Economics are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

StirlingHector RufrancosPathway Representative
EdinburghAndreas SteinhauerPathway Representative
GlasgowFrancesca FlaminiPathway Representative
Heriot WattAtanas ChristevPathway Representative
St AndrewsMiguel Costa-GomesPathway Convenor
StrathclydeAlex DicksonPathway Representative

Linguistics, the scientific study of language, is a highly interdisciplinary field. The pathway builds on decades of leadership provided by the contributing partners in the fields of applied linguistics, cognitive science, computational linguistics, developmental linguistics, discourse analysis, historical linguistics, language evolution, phonetics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. It combines the previous pathways of Language Sciences (approaches to linguistics based in the cognitive sciences) and Social and Applied Investigations in Language (approaches to linguistics based in social theory), and therefore prepares students to explore a very wide and diverse range of topics which are unified by a focus on properties of human language.

Linguistic research can be highly interdisciplinary, and students on a pathway studentship might take one of many approaches to the study of linguistic knowledge. Some linguistics research considers how infants acquire language, or how adults acquire second or additional languages, and what the cognitive effects of this acquisition entail. Other linguistics research explores how language encodes social information, and how this social knowledge constrains speakers’ language use and speakers’ social identities. Other work is concerned with how best to model the very nature of linguistic knowledge, or how to identify and describe the fundamental shared features across all human languages. This pathway also capitalises on existing strengths and research excellence in the application of linguistic knowledge to social and practical benefit, such as the development of public policy, social justice, and understanding individual behaviour.

AberdeenWilliam BarrasPathway Convenor
DundeeYuki KamidePathway Representative
EdinburghSimon KirbyPathway Representative
GlasgowJane Stuart-SmithPathway Representative
Queen Margaret UniversityJames ScobbiePathway Representative

Psychology is the study of human behaviour, essential to understanding individuals and societies. Scottish psychological research is internationally influential in advancing the understanding of behaviour and the application of that knowledge to important societal issues. Each of the institutions below currently provides ESRC accredited training for postgraduate psychology students in a research-rich environment, with particular strengths in cognition, ageing and health, and the self and groups in society.

Psychology research is highly interdisciplinary, and researchers and students from the pathway participants already benefit from links with a wide range of disciplines across national and international institutions. A particular strength of the pathway participants is the Advanced Quantitative Methods training, which is applied to a wide range of social science issues addressing cross-disciplinary themes. All four institutions have links with SINAPSE, the Scottish Imaging Network, promoting interdisciplinary research on the brain and behaviour, and three have access to their own imaging centres.

Modern psychology is strongly interdisciplinary in nature, and so tends to require specialised training in a wide range of research-topic specific methodologies. Students gain access to specialised training early through a 1+3 system, with foundational instruction at level 1 and a continued but thinner and more tailored thread of core skills training throughout the +3 years.
ESRC-funded studentships in Psychology are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

Edinburgh Patrick SturtPathway Representative
AberdeenMargaret JacksonPathway Representative
DundeeAna-Maria BliucPathway Representative
GlasgowMick CraigPathway Representative
St AndrewsInes JentzschPathway Representative
StirlingDimitrios KourtisPathway Convenor
StrathclydeLouise Brown NichollsPathway Representative

This pathway provides training in the complex interdisciplinary issues associated with science, technology and innovation. It has a specific focus on the design and use of information and communication technologies, taking into account institutional and cultural contexts. However, it includes such diverse areas as agriculture and food, energy and environment, medicine and health, and beyond.

Each of the five pathway partners offers particular specialist training: Communications, Media and Culture (CMC) at Stirling reflects key interests in digital media (especially in relation to political communications, journalism and publishing); Cultural Policy (CP) at Glasgow considers the economic, organisational and policy issues of digital developments across the creative economy; Digital Strategy (DS) at Heriot-Watt focuses on the growth and development strategy within the digital economy and the associated sociotechnical challenges that this brings; Information Science (IS) at Edinburgh Napier explores the organisation of information and its use and impact across human society; and Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) at Edinburgh investigates a wide range of topics at the interface between the social and natural sciences, medicine and engineering, policy and law.

All five partner institutions provide students with access to outstanding research environments and advanced doctoral training. The pathway allows for training on a +3 (PhD only) and 1+3 (MSc by Research + PhD) basis, depending on the prior qualifications of the student. The +3 option is available at ALL five institutional partners, while current provision for 1+3 option is available at:

ESRC funded studentships in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and Information and Communication Studies are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

EdinburghPablo SchyfterPathway Convenor
GlasgowIan AndersonPathway Representative
Heriot WattTBCPathway Representative
NapierPeter CruickshankPathway Representative
StirlingRichard HaynesPathway Representative

Society and Welfare

Research in Education employs a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, drawn from both disciplinary and interdisciplinary traditions. It addresses questions regarding education systems and contexts across the entire life course and a wide range of substantive areas of enquiry such as: pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, education policy, educational technology, social exclusion/inclusion and equity issues. The Education pathway comprises six Scottish institutions.

The pathway provides a high quality environment for core and advanced doctoral training in educational research based on a critical mass of recognised educational research excellence and an explicit commitment to contributing to ongoing capacity building in Scotland. The Pathway has extensive experience of collaboration in research capacity building. The pathway brings together complementary strengths across the six universities in terms of expertise in research methodology and methods, theory, and a range of substantive areas of research.

The pathway offers core training in the methods and methodologies of social and behavioural research and in transferable skills, combined with subject specific core and advanced training that pays explicit attention to the distinctive character of educational research.

ESRC-funded studentships in Education are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information: 

AberdeenRachel ShanksPathway Convenor
DundeeAlexia BarrablePathway Representative
EdinburghGrant JarviePathway Representative
GlasgowNicki HedgePathway Representative
StirlingGreg Mannion Pathway Representative
StrathclydeKate WallPathway Representative

Families and relationships are part of the bedrock of social life, and research in this topic area is of relevance to almost all challenges in social science research. Similarly, promoting the health and wellbeing of populations is a clear priority nationally and globally. A ‘Healthier Scotland’ is one of The Scottish Government’s strategic objectives and three of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals focus on health. This pathway brings together Scottish-wide networks including the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) and the recent development of the Scottish hub of the Centre for Population Change (CPC), as well as both established and emergent collaborations across social science disciplines, between the social and biomedical/clinical sciences and with policy and practice.

The pathway draws together strengths in qualitative and quantitative research, training and knowledge exchange in this topic area, supplementing existing recognised MSc provision offered by social science disciplines in the participating institutions.

The pathway PhD training is structured around a 1+3 or +3 full-time and equivalent part- time arrangements, enhancing the core MSc/MRes offered by other pathways with pathway advanced training in research, in knowledge exchange, and in impact in the topic area. The pathway taps into the networks between academia, policy and practice. This networking connects academics with the NHS Scotland, third sector organisations related to children, families, older people and health, as well as statutory authorities, local and Scottish Government. It also builds on the CPC in Scotland’s articulation with government, sited in the Registrar General of Scotland’s office, with whom the director established the Longitudinal Studies Centre – Scotland. CRFR, CPC and the health consortiums are embedded in international networks which will also be used to enhance student experience.

Applications for studentships within this Pathway can be made with attachment to the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

AberdeenPaul McNameePathway Representative
DundeeLynne DuncanPathway Representative
Edinburgh Jo WilliamsPathway Representative
GlasgowCindy Gray Pathway  Convenor
St AndrewsHill KuluPathway Representative
StirlingPurva AbhyankarPathway Representative

The Social Policy Pathway is offered by a partnership between the University of Stirling, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian University. These Universities provide high-quality ESRC-recognised doctoral training. The partnership constitutes a top-rated research environment in which to study Social Policy and Social Work at graduate level within the UK and internationally.

Core subject-specific training, general research and transferable skills are provided via a range of MSc degrees. This includes the delivery of Advanced Quantitative Methods. Students usually complete a ‘1+3’ route in either institution (MSc, PhD). Studentships may also be offered on a +3 basis for applicants who have already achieved required levels of research training.

As part of a Scottish DTC, Social Policy and Social Work students have the opportunity to undertake training and research in a unique and increasingly significant policy context. Each University provides a robust research environment and all have strong governmental and professional practice links. In particular, we have strong links with the Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector organisations, with many doctoral students benefiting from placements and collaborative studentship awards in recent years.

The pathway builds on and looks to extend existing collaboration between the Universities such as the Scottish Social Survey Network, the Scottish Social Policy Network, the Centre for Families and Relationships, Gender-based Violence Research Network, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research. Academics in all five institutions participate in a variety of international research networks such as the Socrates Network of European University Schools of Social Work and EU (FP VI) Network of Excellence in Reconciling Work and Welfare (RECWOWE).

ESRC-funded PhD studentships in Social Policy and Social Work are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

Institution Contact Role
Glasgow Moira Munro Pathway Convenor
Caledonian Angela O’Hagan Pathway Representative
Edinburgh Daniel Clegg Pathway Representative
Stirling Peter Matthews Pathway Representative
Strathclyde Katherine Smith Pathway Representative

This pathway builds upon long-standing and widely distributed strengths in Law and Society research and post-graduate training in Scotland. Socio-legal studies (SLS) and criminology encompass research that addresses core concerns of society around state power, marginality and vulnerability, effective regulation and social order. The research areas of this pathway comprise an extensive domain including inter alia sociology and anthropology of law; criminology and criminal justice; penality and social control; the uses and applications of law in public policy and economic relations domestically and internationally; images and representations of legality, crime and punishment in official discourse, popular culture and everyday life; regulation and ordering practices in political, commercial and private spheres; security and securitization, and their associated institutional and rhetorical dynamics.

The development of criminological and criminal justice research is a priority in Scotland. This has been reflected in major investment from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Scottish Government and led to the formation, in 2007, of the cross-institutional, multi-disciplinary Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR). At around the same time SFC, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, created the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) – an alliance of 13 institutions.  As a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary consortium, comprising all institutions currently in receipt of ESRC recognition/quota in the area, SCCJR is the natural platform for a new collectively-provided training initiative in criminology.

Research training in socio-legal studies benefits from varied and extensive bodies of policy-relevant socio-legal scholarship and training at the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Strathclyde. The boundaries between socio-legal studies and criminology are porous – and students in each field benefit from being trained together, with specialist provision for each as appropriate.

ESRC-funded studentships in Socio-Legal Studies in Criminology are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

DundeeSean WhittakerPathway Representative
EdinburghAndy Aydin-AitchisonPathway Representative
GlasgowFergus McNeillPathway Representative
StirlingMaria FotopoulouPathway Representative
StrathclydeEmily Rose Pathway Convenor

The pathway consists of the Sociology units of the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Stirling, and Stirling Film, Media and Journalism. Each of the members provides both subject-specific and advanced training.

PhD training is structured around a 1+3 full-time (or 2+6 part-time) arrangement with an MSc in the first year. Students with adequate MSc training are able to go directly into the PhD in a +3/+6 arrangement.

The pathway is part of the Scottish Sociology Consortium, along with the 8 other institutions teaching sociology in Scotland. Experts in these institutions will contribute to advanced shared pathway training, and students from them will be able to access pathway training. The pathway will also draw on UK and international expertise through a series of planned collaborations, building on our recognised UK and global prestige.

ESRC-funded studentships in Sociology are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

StirlingSarah WilsonPathway Representative
AberdeenChristopher KollmeyerPathway Representative
EdinburghNasar MeerPathway Convenor
GlasgowAndrew SmithPathway Representative

People and Place

The Economic and Social History pathway represents the historical approach to the social sciences.  As such, it encompasses a very wide array of intellectual approaches and brings the particular rigour and demands of historical enquiry to a range of social science methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative.

At the core research training stage, the pathway has a three-centre model, based at Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews.  The pathway then moves outwards from these three centres to incorporate excellence in social science history throughout Scotland.

Specific courses included in this pathway include the MScs run as part of the current consortium: the MSc in Global Economy and the MSc in History (Social Sciences) at the University of Glasgow.  The MScR in Economic and Social History is the equivalent course at the University of Edinburgh. The MSc in Economic and Social History is the equivalent course at the University of St Andrews. PhD supervision is then offered and is available at any of the other institutions included in this pathway, including the possibility of supervision across two institutions if appropriate, depending on the specific focus of the doctoral study.

ESRC-funded PhD studentships in Economic and Social History are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

Institution Contact Role
Glasgow Neil Rollings Pathway Convenor
Aberdeen Alastair Macdonald Pathway Representative
Dundee Nandini Bhattacharya Pathway Representative
Edinburgh David Silkenat Pathway Representative
St Andrews Jacqueline Rose Pathway Representative
Stirling Alison Cathcart Pathway Representative
Strathclyde Tanja Bueltmann Pathway Representative

This new pathway brings together an interdisciplinary body of students whose research engages with theoretical, policy and practice-based social science relating to human-environment relations, urban governance and planning, environment and energy, and social and spatial processes. The new pathway builds on an exceptional track record of engagement with non-academic partners from the public, private and third sectors, in close collaboration with professional bodies (including the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Town Planning Institute and Chartered Institute of Housing). Further training opportunities will be organised by groups such as the Scottish Human Geography Postgraduate Consortium (SHGPC), alongside the SGSSS.

The pathway will provide opportunities for both 1+3 and +3 modes of study (note, Stirling and Strathclyde may only host +3 awards).
ESRC-funded studentships in Human Geography are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

GlasgowFelicity CallardPathway Representative
AberdeenJoe PiercePathway Representative
DundeeBeverley SearlePathway Representative
EdinburghSukanya KrishnamurthyPathway Representative
Heriot WattMorag TreanorPathway Representative
SRUCAndrew BarnesPathway Representative
St AndrewsKaty Keenan Pathway Representative
StirlingIan SimpsonPathway Representative
StrathclydeScott CunninghamPathway Convenor (interim)

The Language-Based Area Studies and International Development pathway provides an outstanding research environment which brings together four research and teaching centres at Edinburgh and Glasgow. These include the dedicated inter-university LBAS Centres of Excellence, the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES) and the Centre for Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW) which were both established in 2006 to enhance national capacity in Language-Based Area Studies. The pathway also includes the Centre for African Studies (CAS) and the Scottish Centre for Chinese Studies (SCCS) (both at Edinburgh). The Edinburgh Global Development Academy has, since 2009, fostered innovative collaborations around postgraduate training and research. The pathway’s focus on the Middle East, Russia and former Soviet Union, Asia (including China), and Africa represents regions of strategic priority for the UK in terms of business, foreign affairs and security.

The Language-Based Area Studies and International Development pathway is available at the following institutions: University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow. 

GlasgowHelen HardmanPathway Convenor
EdinburghAkin IwiladePathway Representative

The Politics and International Relations (PIR) pathway brings together four HEIs and comprises the Politics and/or International Relations (IR) disciplinary units at Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde. The participating units are recognised for their research excellence and provide high-quality theoretical and methodological training for research students. Pathway members have a leading role in several research institutes and research centres that engage in cutting edge research on the most pressing political issues of our time at local, national, and international levels. These groupings are inherently interdisciplinary and include, for example, the Handa Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and the Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies at St Andrews; the Academy of Government and the Centre for Security Research at Edinburgh; the European Policies Research Centre and the International Public Policy Institute at Strathclyde; and the Glasgow Human Rights Network, the Glasgow Global Security Network and the Urban Big Data Centre, at Glasgow.

ESRC-funded studentships in Politics and International Relations are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information:

GlasgowBeatrice Heuser Pathway Representative
EdinburghWilfried Swenden
Pathway Representative
St AndrewsAnthony LangPathway Representative
StrathclydeHeinz BrandenburgPathway Convenor

The Social Anthropology pathway is available at the following institutions: University of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews. Contact details for institutional representatives will be added in January; in the meantime please direct queries to the pathway convener.

EdinburghAlex EdmondsPathway Representative
St AndrewsAdam ReedPathway Convenor