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Grand Union DTP

Our 'Grand Union' is a Doctoral Training Partnership between Brunel University London, the Open University and the University of Oxford. We are one of 14 ESRC Doctoral Training Partnerships across the UK, providing our postgraduate students with high-quality social science research training.

Awards are available in of our internationally recognised areas of research expertise: Education, Health and Wellbeing.  

Applications are now open for October 2024 entry.  Deadline is 5pm @ 12th January 2024.

Fully-funded studentships

Our funded studentships become available at different times of the year. Please keep checking our page regularly to see the latest funded opportunities. We also advertise all our funded studentships as soon as they become available on the @BrunelResearch twitter account.

View all studentships


Health and Wellbeing Pathway 

The Health and Wellbeing Pathway is led by Brunel and delivered in collaboration with Oxford University and The Open University. Students accepted at Brunel will be members of the GUDTP Health & Wellbeing Pathway. Brunel applicants can apply for a DTP studentship based in the Centre for Health and Wellbeing across the Lifecourse. The Centre offers students opportunities to address a wide agenda of the most significant national and global health and wellbeing challenges. Areas of expertise include sport, physical activity, health and wellbeing; health and wellbeing in older age; lifestyle behaviours and health inequalities; health and wellbeing among young people, including sexual health and anti-violence interventions; and evaluation methodologies for health and wellbeing interventions.

More information on the doctoral opportunities available in each area is available here:

Education Pathway

Brunel DTP students on the Education pathway will join the Department of Education. Education at Brunel is a leading department in the UK offering the full range of provision at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In common with the university as a whole the department has a rich ethnic mix among its student population and attracts a significant proportion of students from outside the European Union.  

The Education Department is ranked top 5 in London (Complete University Guide, 2024), and 1st in London and 3rd in UK for Education graduate jobs and further study (LEO, 2023). In the last Research Excellence Framework, 60% of the Education Department’s research was world leading or internationally excellent and 90% of its impact was graded as internationally excellent.  

Our Doctoral Researchers are a key part of our research and scholarly community, and we seek to nurture and develop them as the next generation of researchers in education who both create and co-create new knowledge in order to advance the field. We view Education as a discipline in its own right as well as drawing on other disciplinary fields such as history, philosophy, sociology and human geography to inform provision for both our PhD and EdDoc researchers. We believe in the holistic development of the researcher and offer opportunities for doctoral researchers to become fully immersed in Department, College and wider University research networks, providing them with new insights into theory, methodology, methods, ethics and real-world application.

Our research addresses education in the broadest sense, taking in both formal and informal education (including youth work and welfare contexts) and focusing across the lifecourse to include early years, schooling, higher education and lifelong learning. Departmental research is currently organised and led through four research groups:


Education, Identities and Society- contact Professor Kate Hoskins

Interculturality for Diversity and Global Learning - contact Professor Maria Tsouroufli  

Pedagogy, Policy and Professional Education - contact Dr Deborah Jones

STEM Education - contact Dr Sarmin Hossain

 The Department is also affiliated to the following research groups and centres:



More information on the doctoral opportunities available in each area is available here: PhD Education

The Grand Union experience

The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership (GUDTP) provides a huge range of studentship opportunities for Doctoral students at Oxford University, The Open University and Brunel University London. The studentship awards individual students with funding to achieve their Doctorate, and provides support for those students to affect those not involved with the pathway through, for example setting up research groups for all students, going on internships and initiatives such as helping children get into higher education. 

Our Grand Union scholars are at the heart of our community of students and early career social science researchers. We are proud of the support we give this next generation of social scientists, and we work hard to give them every opportunity to develop as future researchers and professionals. Social scientists at Brunel have a tradition of innovatory, high-impact research that drives forward academic knowledge and informs policy and practice. 

Each year the GUDTP hosts a conference at Oxford University which allows students to exhibit their research, learn from the work of others, participate in workshops and listen to stimulating key note presentations. The 2019 conference was themed “Not Surviving, Thriving” exploring how to navigate and manage the changing nature of academia. Anne Butterworth (Open University) and Lucy Wray (Brunel University London) were invited to lead a Health and Wellbeing Workshop for students to contemplate their own health and wellbeing and discuss how they can manage this on their academic journey and beyond. 

Who can apply for a Doctoral Training Partnership?

  • Studentships supported by the United Kingdom Research and Innovation are open to Home, EU and International students.

  • Students must reside in the UK during their studies to receive United Kingdom Research and Innovation funding

  • The studentships are highly competitive with two stages of selection: first selection at Brunel and then the second stage at the Doctoral Training Partnership level

  • Applicants are normally expected to hold a Masters degree and a minimum IELTS 7 for international students

The application process


Before applying to ESRC, please note that all ESRC awards are subject to the ESRC and UKRI Terms and Conditions. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. They are set out in ESRC website:

If you already know the name of a potential supervisor in these subject areas, you may contact them directly. Alternatively, you can email the following subject contacts, giving them a brief idea of what your PhD proposal is on. They will forward your details to appropriate members of staff within the subject teams and someone will get back to you discuss further. 

How to Apply

Complete the studentship application form first. Please do not complete the PhD application via the online portal just yet. This will be done once a decision on the studentship has been made.For an overview of the recruitment process please click here 

1. 2000 word research proposal including references.

2. Two written references, they should have a good knowledge of your academic record to date and your plans for the research project. They should be in a position to judge your suitability and preparedness for doctoral study. Only one of your two referees can be a member of your proposed (or actual) supervisory team. You may ask the supervisor of your Masters dissertation to be one of your referees. It is however not necessary for either of your referees to be a member of your supervisory team unless you have already started your PhD, in which case we would expect one of your references to be from your supervisor. References must include:

The referee’s name and their relationship to you and Comment on your previous performance/achievements

3. Your up-to-date CV;

4. Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project;

5. Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);

6. Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, if appropriate;

7.Completed Equal Opportunities form 

Data protection

Your information will be treated as strictly confidential and handled in accordance with the provisions of the GDPR. For more information please see the UKRI privacy notice.

Please email all completed documents to with the subject header – Education/wellbeing ESRC Studentship application

Please note that Interviews for studentships will be required. Applicants are advised to be available should they be called for interview.

Contact details

For advice of an academic nature, please contact Associate Director & pathway Lead Prof Louise Mansfield for Health & wellbeing and

 For all other enquiries, please contact

What will you receive if you’re successful?


Full fees at the current home rate for the length of the studentship, irrespective of your fee status. Brunel University London has waived the difference between Home and International fee level so that International students will not be charged the difference.


 A stipend including London Weighting. Please see here for the current stipend amount. 

Post Doctoral opportunities 

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) also offers  applications to its Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) scheme aimed at providing a career development opportunity for those in the immediately postdoctoral stage of their career, to provide the opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills. 

The PDF call forms part of ESRC’s strategy to support early career researchers and will be delivered through our national network of Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) which encompasses 73 research organisations across the UK. 

The fellows must be located on an accredited DTP pathway. Through being embedded within a high-quality environment for research and training, the fellows will have the opportunity to undertake a varied programme of activities supporting their continued development for careers both within and outside of academia. 

DTPs will have their own procedures in place to peer review the proposals and make funding decisions on behalf of ESRC. 

ESRC PostDocs Call is currently closed 

The objective of these calls is to provide support to those who are within 12 months of completing their PhD, to support them in consolidating their PhD, and preparing them for the next stage of their research careers. For the majority this is likely to be a research career in academia; however, those with a clearly articulated programme of activities to support their transition to a research career outside of academia (eg a researcher in public, private, or civil society organisations) will also be considered. 

Fellows’ actual programmes or proposed programme of activities should reflect their prior knowledge and experience and be designed to support their longer term research career aspirations. Activities could include but are not limited to: 

  • Produce publications in order to help establish track record

  • Engage with a range of different audiences to communicate research findings

  • Build networks to develop impact opportunities and inform and support further development

  • Collaborate with users through an internship or placement to help develop professional and transferrable skills and understanding of users’ organisations, provided they are an integral part of the fellowship

  • Further training to improve research and related skills

  • Developing funding proposals

  • Carry out further limited research (up to 25% of the programme of work) related to their PhD

  • Teaching, if this is aligned with the wider purposes of the fellowship (up to a maximum of six hours per week);

  • Research visits to internationally leading research organisations – either in the UK or abroad – for the purposes of research collaboration, training, and/or access to data or other resources not available at the applicant’s host organisation.