Studentship opportunity

Transitions and labour market outcomes for ethnic minority young people in Scotland

This studentship is funded by the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland through the Scottish Graduate School of the Social Sciences

University of Stirling
Mode of study

Full time / Part time

Application deadline
28 March 2019

Project details

Ethnic diversity is growing in Scotland. Although, on average, educational attainment of school leavers from BME backgrounds surpasses that of their peers from white ethnic background, and the former have higher rates of transitions into Higher Education than the latter,  this improvement has not been matched by a sustained improvement in labour market outcomes for young people from BME background. There is a growing evidence that choices made by young people at the secondary education phase are consequential for their post-school transitions, achievement and labour market outcomes. Yet the role of these choices on the post-secondary transitions and the labour market outcomes of BME young people in Scotland is under-explored.

The proposed doctoral research programme will use mixed research methods to investigate the factors associated with transitions from education to the labour market of BME young (16-25) people in Scotland.

This will include

  • providing up-to-date and detailed evidence on trends in these transitions;
  • examining the subject choices made at different stages of secondary education and explore the determinants of these choices;
  • examining the transitions into higher education and explore the factors that  affect the decisions of  BME young people to apply to and their chances of being admitted to a certain type of universities/study programmes;
  • exploring how secondary school students from minority ethnic backgrounds make decisions about their subject and career choices.

The project will be informed by the analyses of large-scale administrative datasets such as Scottish Longitudinal Study dataset, the Scottish Government data on Transitions and Destinations of State School Leavers, the UCAS and the HESA datasets. In order to understand how secondary school students from minority ethnic background make decisions about the subject and career choices primary data will be gathered from ten schools across Scotland, with a range of ethnic diversity.

About the institution

Hosted within the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling the student will be provided with facilities, including their own desk in an office, and full access to all software, equipment and laboratories. The student will participate in the faculty’s internal research groups on ‘Social Surveys and Social Statistics’ and ‘Curriculum and Pedagogy’. These research groups run regular seminars, research discussions and training events, and will provide opportunities for the student to meet and benefit from advice from a wide range of staff and other research students with relevant expertise. The Faculty also has a long history of co-funded studentships (e.g. CASE awards, collaborative studentships, impact studentships), and of working with non-academic audiences (e.g. through internships).


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria
  • A degree level qualification, First or Upper Second Class Honours (2:1), in a relevant subject, are required for entry to the 1+3 PhD programme. An appropriate Masters level degree is required for direct entry to the +3 PhD programme.
  • An interest in analysing quantitative data through large-scale secondary surveys
  • Some background training and experience in using social statistics
  • An interest in the research areas and methodologies involved in the project

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 September  2019  It includes
  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 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

The supervisors of the project are Dr Marina Shapira and Dr Dave Griffiths and. A further advisor, from Skills Development Scotland, will liaise regularly on the project. The studentship is administered by the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (, on behalf of its funders, the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland. Subject specific training will be available to the student on a one-to-one basis with the supervisors and with other academics within the Faculty, and through their participation in internal and external subject-specific training events. These will include:
  • Training in handling and processing secondary datasets
  • Training in advanced methods of statistical data analysis
  • Software training to advanced practitioner level in relevant packages (e.g. Stata, R, UCINET)
  • Training in undertaking social network analyses (including primary data collection of egonets)
External training events offer a particularly promising route to training development in this respect, since there are numerous high quality training programmes available across the University sector to which the student would be encourage to engage. The student will directly benefit from courses that will be offered within the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN), the Social Network Analysis in Scotland group, the Glasgow Quantitative Methods Group and other providers such as NCRM. Generic training will be available primarily through the Stirling Graduate School and/or the Scottish Graduate School and will include:
  • presentation and critical engagement skills through postgraduate, research group and seminar series events;
  • writing for publication (through peer mentoring, specialist courses and writers retreats);
  • working with non-academic audiences through the Keyword seminar series;
  • general research training on themes such as project management, writing, and research ethics provided by the Stirling Graduate Research School.
In the later stages of their project, the student will be encouraged to disseminate their research at national and international meetings and to submit publications to peer review journals.

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 (at least one referee should be an academic)
  • CV
  • A two-page covering letter:   The covering letter should demonstrate interest and capability of undertaking a PhD. This should be uploaded in a standalone document with a naming convention as follows:


  • Applicant statement: a short summary (maximum 500 words) explaining how they would approach the project’s research. The summary should refer to the project proposal, could discuss conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues link to the project and will be used to assess the applicant’s knowledge of the research field. This should be uploaded in a standalone document with a naming convention as follows:


  1. Applicants submit application through GradHub (button below)


Selection process

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 5 April 2019. Interviews will take place during the week starting on 15 April 2019. All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within University of Stirling.  Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Supervisor/Contact details

Marina Shapira