Collaborative Competition – How to Apply

The Welsh Graduate School for the Social Sciences Collaborative Studentship competition will be launching in mid-March 2024. Prospective students looking to apply for ESRC studentship funding to undertake a pre-defined collaborative PhD research project (starting in the academic year 2024/25) will be invited to submit an application by the deadline of 19 April 2024. Please note: institutions may have earlier application deadlines, these will be detailed in the individual WGSSS Collaborative Competition adverts. The available collaborative projects will be advertised on this page in Mid March 2024. 

As part of the assessment of applicants, WGSSS are very interested in you as a whole person. What this means is that rather than solely looking at your academic achievements (for example, it is not necessary to have a first-class degree to be assessed as an excellent PhD student and to receive funding), we will consider what you can bring to a PhD through your work and life experiences too (which should be detailed in your application in your cover letter and CV). 

The Collaborative Competition is supervisor-generated; you choose from an existing catalogue of projects. This differs from the General Competition. The General Competition is applicant generated; you must propose your own PhD project.  

Mid-March 2024Collaborative Competition Applications open 
Available projects will be advertised on this page in mid-March. 
19/04/2024  Application deadline  
Following the deadline; applications are assessed by schools and pathways. Shortlisted applicants are invited to interview shortly after the deadline. If successful at interview, the Initial Development Needs Analysis (DNA) is completed by supervisors 
24/05/2024 Shortlisted applications are sent to WGSSS 
Applications from students for specific projects are reviewed by a panel of the WGSSS Management Board Competition Sub-Group. 
28/05/2024 Awards agreed 
Student applicants will be contacted by WGSSS to provide them with a studentship decision. Applicants may be placed on the reserve list at this stage if they have not met the cutoff for an automatic award. 
June 2024 Full DNA Completed 
WGSSS will arrange a meeting with WGSSS Training Lead to process a Full Development Needs Analysis (DNA) which will determine the training required within the studentship and the length of study, matching it to available provision. 
June 2024 Formal offers processed 
June 2024 Formal funding letter issued 

How to Apply

Step 1 – Choose a project 

Available projects will be advertised below, not all universities and pathways within WGSSS will have Collaborative projects available. It advised to contact the lead supervisor for the project you are interested in to express your interest.  

Step 2 – Apply to an institution  

If there is a project that you are interested in, please make a formal application using the instructions in the advert. Please ensure that you include all the required information and documents in your application. All documents must be sent by the application deadline, incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

Step 3 – Application is reviewed 

Your application is reviewed by the department/university where your potential supervisor is located. This is to allow them to decide on offering you a PhD place.  

Step 4 – Interview and nomination 

If you are successful and are shortlisted, you will be invited to an interview by a pathway panel. If your interview is successful, your application will be nominated by the pathway lead to the WGSSS Management board for review. Your potential supervisor will also complete an Initial DNA to assess your training requirements. You will then be contacted by the WGSSS to confirm receipt of your application. 

Step 5 – Outcome 

Following review by the management board, the WGSSS will then provide the outcome to all nominated candidates. If you are successful, you will be sent a confirmation of funding letter which you will need to accept or decline within 2 weeks. Once you have accepted the offer, you will then be asked to attend a meeting with the WGSSS Training Lead to complete your full DNA. 

Step 6 – Full DNA 

Successful applicants will meet with the WGSSS Training Lead who will use the initial DNA to help review your existing training and complete a Full DNA to establish the length of award. 

Step 7 – Formal offer 

Once the Full DNA has confirmed the length of award, you will then be sent your formal award letter and funding letter by the institution you have applied to.  

Documents required for an application 

All applicants are required to provide the following documents to support their application. These documents are required by the application deadline on the 19 April 2024. Please note: institutions may have different application deadlines, these will be detailed in the individual WGSSS Collaborative Competition adverts. If your application is missing any document, it will be considered incomplete and will not be progressed for shortlisting. 

1 – Cover letter  

Two pages maximum 

The cover letter must include the following bullet points as subheadings: 

  • Please name the collaborative studentship being applied for and set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at XXXX University, and the XXXX pathway.  
  • Please detail your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study. 
  • Provide detail of your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to your proposed research. 
  • Drawing on your own background (including your life experiences, journey to/through university, work experiences or volunteering) please provide a summary of why you are ready to undertake a PhD now and how you will flourish as a result of PhD funding. You might include, for example, personal challenges that you have overcome or achievements that you are proud of in your work, study or life experiences and how these map onto the skills required to flourish in a PhD programme. Challenges could include, but are not limited to, protected characteristics, socio-economic status and of being a prospective first-generation student or care- experienced. 
  • Reflecting on your own background and/or proposed approach to PhD study and the opportunities which it will present, how will you support diversity and inclusion in the PhD community? 

2 – Academic CV  

Two pages maximum 

3 – Research proposal  

For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:  

  • Title, aims and purpose of the research;  
  • Brief overview of the academic literature relevant to your field;  
  • Proposed design/methods;   
  • Academic contributions of your research.  
  • Bibliographic References  

4 – Two academic or professional references 

Candidates must approach referees themselves and include references with their application. The reference must detail the applicant’s research strengths.

5 – Degree certificates and Transcripts  

Including translations if applicable 

6 – If relevant, proof of English Language Competency  

See institutional requirements for entry 

2024 Collaborative Projects

Awaiting project links – Links to view full project descriptions will be added below shortly.

Project Title and Application Link SupervisorPathwayInstitutionExternal Collaborator
Understanding hiring discrimination against disabled people in the UKProf Melanie Jones
EconomicsCardiff University Scope
Developing an adapted curriculum of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for children and young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)Dr Catherine Storey
EducationBangor UniversityBetsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
Do farmer groups encourage tree planting? Exploration of changes in willingness and capacity for planting in England and WalesProf Jane Mills
Environmental PlanningUniversity of GloucestershireNatural England, Forestry Commission, Welsh Government
Designing serious games to inform land use decisions for net zero in Wales.Prof Damian Maye
Environmental PlanningUniversity of GloucestershireNatural Resources Wales, Welsh Government
Examining relationships between human well-being and avian biodiversity within natural and urban soundscapesDr Freya St John
Dr Tyler Hallman
Dr Mark Mainwaring
Environmental PlanningBangor UniversityBritish Trust for Ornithology
Navigating the politics of Cross-border Conservation of Coastal habitat (C3 )Dr Cai Ladd
Environmental PlanningSwansea UniversitySolway Firth Partnership, Severn Estuary Partnership, Cheshire Wildlife Trust
Accessing housing justice: a critical legal geography of independent housing advice in WalesProf Peter Mackie
Human GeographyCardiff University Shelter Cymru
Developing awareness of and widening access to Welsh medium and bilingual statutory education for international migrants in WalesDr Gwennan Higham
Linguistics and BilingualismSwansea UniversityWelsh Government, Welsh Centre for Language Planning
Teacher training in oracy and vocabulary development in primary schools in WalesDr Sara M. Pons-Sanz
Linguistics and BilingualismCardiff University The English-Speaking Union (ESU)
Enhancing discharge care coordination in mental health and social care: A probabilistic data-driven modelling approachProf Bahman Rostami-Tabar
Management and BusinessCardiff University Health and Care Research Wales
Exploring the variation and equality of access for at-risk adults in receipt of care and support in Wales Prof Jonathan Scourfield
Social Care, Social Work, Social PolicyCardiff University Health and Care Research Wales
Understanding player load management and rest in English professional rugby unionProf Stephen Mellalieu
Sport and Exercise SciencesCardiff Metropolitan UniversityPremiership Rugby Limited (PRL) Rugby Football Union (RFU) Rugby Players Association (RPA)