Postgraduate Research Scholarships in the School of Social Policy

Our academics are internationally recognised as authorities in their fields, and our research contributes to academic debates and has worldwide impact. Our research outputs in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), were placed in the top 10 in the UK for social policy and social work. 

Types of scholarships 

We are offering:

  • A selected number of School Scholarships.
    • The deadline for applying for a School Scholarship was 24 January 2023 (23:59 GMT). Decisions on School Scholarships vary between Schools across the College but will usually be announced between late February and early April. If you are offered both a School and an ESRC scholarship, you will be expected to accept the ESRC one. The School scholarship can then be made available to other candidates on a waiting list.
  • ESRC-funded studentships from the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).
    • The deadline for applying for an ESRC funded studentship was 24 January 2023 (23:59 GMT).
      Decisions from the ESRC Midlands Graduate School are usually made by the beginning of April.
      If you are offered both a School and an ESRC scholarship, you will be expected to accept the ESRC one. The School scholarship can then be made available to other candidates on a waiting list.
  • CHASM funded PhD opportunity: “Quantitative research on financial resilience and financial wellbeing”
    • Applications for this are open until 28 April 2023.
    • Details about this opportunity, including the research, eligibility criteria, funding amounts, and how to apply are set out below.

About the Project

CHASM is pleased to offer funding for a motivated and talented quantitative researcher interested in undertaking doctoral research on financial resilience and wellbeing.

CHASM is an interdisciplinary research centre investigating the causes and consequences of financial risk and insecurity, and promotes policies to foster financial wellbeing. We have a diverse and inclusive research agenda, covering topics such as, savings, debt, inequality, assets, and financial inclusion.

The successful applicant will be jointly supervised by Professor Adele Atkinson and Dr Ellie Suh, and with advisory supervision from Dr Louise Overton. The researcher will be able to demonstrate a strong desire to better understand the pathways to improved financial resilience and wellbeing and explore the type of support needed for individuals and households to achieve their goals. They should be interested in contributing to the literature on financial resilience and wellbeing, digital finance, and financial advice.

This research will address various interrelated challenges facing people in the UK.

1. Income and expenditure shocks are common in our society and can create various negative outcomes.

2. Many people struggle to start or maintain a plan to build their financial resilience. There are many reasons for this, but the consequence is that they are often ill-protected in the event of a change of circumstance.

3. People face many challenges as they seek to overcome adverse events, and it may take a significant amount of time for them to be able to start to (re)build their financial safety net to ensure future resilience.

4. There are still advice gaps, meaning that large portions of the population do not access guidance or support to help them to manage their expenditure, credit use, savings, assets, or insurance, and may be unaware of their possible vulnerabilities.

This doctoral research programme will aim to contribute to national policy discussions on financial wellbeing by undertaking quantitative analyses of the ways in which financial resilience grows or diminishes over time and the antecedents of such changes. It is anticipated that the Wealth and Assets Survey will be the main data source used for this quantitative PhD.

Evidence shows that financial resilience and wellbeing are associated with various socio-economic factors, and research students may have a particular interest in exploring this in more detail or seeking to meet the needs of certain groups of the population. The research could, for example, employ a gender lens or look specifically at those impacted negatively by COVID-19, low-income employees or the self-employed. Other groups may also be of interest. Applicants are welcome to outline their preferred focus with evidence-based reasoning.

Taking into account recent developments in digital finance, including Open Banking and the availability of financial management apps and robo-advice, the research will seek to identify continued gaps in access to, and use of, tools that support decision making and resilience building. It will also test possible solutions that are tailored to those who are unable or unwilling to fully employ existing options.

It is anticipated that the outcomes of this research will have direct application in policy and practice. For instance, the research programme is consistent with the aims of the Money and Pensions Service’s UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, and also aligns with the technological focus of the main funder. The applied, collaborative nature of these studentships provides candidates with a unique opportunity to develop transferable skills of interest to a wide range of employers within and outside of academia.


The studentship is offered as a 3.5 year award (commencing in October 2023) on a full-time basis. Applicants are expected to have a strong first degree (2:1) in a relevant social science discipline, including demonstrable experience using advanced quantitative methods, and a Masters degree in a social sciences discipline with full social sciences research methods training (or equivalent professional training). This studentship is available to home and international student applicants.

Interested candidates should, in the first instance, contact  and and then complete the formal University of Birmingham application as below.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers:

Home Students

Full tuition fees at the Home rate (£4,620 per annum)
• An annual maintenance grant for 3.5 years, £17,000 per year for your living costs, paid in regular instalments)
• A Research and Training Support Grant worth £750 per year

International Students

Full tuition fees at the International rate (£20,340 per annum)
• An annual maintenance grant for 3.5 years, £1,280 per year for your living costs, paid in regular instalments
• A Research and Training Support Grant worth £750 per year

How to Apply

Applications must be made through the University of Birmingham Postgraduate Application portal. Your scholarship application will not be considered if you do not apply for admission. To apply for admission please submit your application via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal. The scholarship application is a section on the admissions system which can be completed at any point. We recommend that applicants submit their application to study with us as soon as possible to allow time to process it and resolve any queries in advance of the funding deadline.

  • Your application should include:
  • 1,000 - 2,000-word research proposal
  • Supporting statement / cover letter
  • Transcripts (previous qualifications)
  • Two academic references
  • CV
  • Example of your written work
  • The deadline for applications is Friday 28 April 2023.

Find out more about our Doctoral Programmes.  

Find out more about the areas of research in the School of Social Policy.