Studentship opportunity

Minimum Core Obligations: Using a sociology of human rights to examine the potential for human rights budgeting in Scotland

This studentship is funded by the ESRC through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences

University of Glasgow
Mode of study

Full time / Part time

Application deadline
15th March 2019

Project details

This project will be supervised by Dr Jo Ferrie (University of Glasgow – Sociology) and Dr Katie Boyle (University of Stirling – Law) and the successful applicant will be based at the University of Glasgow. In collaboration with the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) this project seeks to synthesise existing concepts of what constitutes a minimum core in the realisation of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights as they potentially apply to Scotland, drawing on sociological, legal, and philosophical literatures. As part of the UK, Scotland has an obligation to fulfil ESC rights. Like other States, Scotland has not yet established a minimum core of ESC rights, meaning there is a potential accountability gap. The minimum core obligation (MCO) forms part of a duty to progressively realise (PR) ESC rights to the state’s maximum available resources (MAR). This project focusses specifically on the MCO element through an interdisciplinary lens asking what steps Scotland can take to meet this obligation, including budgetary allocation. As well as offering a unique synthesis of the existing knowledge, this project will deliver new data, using local authority structures and the example of the right to food, to reveal where structural barriers to delivering the MC of ESC rights operate. Evidence will be sought from information about budgets: How are they decided? How are they spent? Who decides how they are spent? The project aims to develop indicators to allow the systematic measurement of progress towards delivering ESC rights beyond food, and potentially, indicators that could work in other countries. In working with the SHRC, this project has the capacity to influence practices in Scotland. The Scottish Government have introduced in 2018 a new National Performance Framework measure around human rights, that, together with the recommendations of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership, makes this a particularly timely project. It would substantially add to the knowledge base of the SHRC and by extension the Scottish Government and Parliament, while also adding significantly to the growing global literature on realising ESC rights.

About the institution

We offer a rich and vibrant research community at the University of Glasgow. The Sociology subject area has annual celebrations of student’s work in ‘away days’. We were ranked second in the UK during the last REF exercise and are strong on theory, methodology and impact. The successful student will join the Post-Graduate Research Student (PGR) cluster of the Glasgow Human Rights Network, of which JF was a founding member. This organization creates spaces for all academic staff and doctoral students working around human rights and notably includes disciplinary homes of business, law, politics and sociology. The PGR cluster have organized international conferences, masterclasses and workshops on all aspects of human rights and provides strong peer learning and support. The successful student will also access similar resources from the University of Stirling’s School of Law.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably in Sociology or Law, though other social science disciplines may be considered
  • Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of human rights; current thinking around minimum core; human rights budgeting work; the UK’s legislative field pertaining to human rights and/or sociological approaches to human rights
  • Have a good grounding in research methods with some skills in both quantitative and qualitative approaches (does not need to be advanced)

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here.

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.  The programme will commence in October 2019 It includes
  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2019/20 rate £15,009 full-time)
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Other information

We are keen to hear from applicants with some experience working with a body such as the Scottish Human Rights Commission. This could be a third sector/voluntary organization or a public body with a similar remit around progressing justice.

How to apply

  1. Applicants register on GradHub and fill out EO data (this is a requirement of the application process)
  2. Applicants complete and upload the prescribed list of required documentation to include:
  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • References
  • CV
  • A short statement (max 1,000 words) explaining how you fit with, and can add to, the research project.

The statement should be uploaded as a standalone document with the file named as follows *your name_FerrieGlasgowCollaborative_date*

  1. Applicants submit application through GradHub

Selection process

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 05th April 2019. Interviews dates are to be confirmed. All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the University of Glasgow. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Supervisor/Contact details

Dr Jo Ferrie