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Grand Union DTP

Grand Union DTP at Brunel University London: ESRC-Doctoral funded studentships in social science research.

An ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership uniting Brunel University London, the Open University and the University of Oxford. 

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.

From 2017 to 2022, we will be offering more than 35 ESRC studentships each year for doctoral study on 24 pathways across our partner institutions. We are committed to a student-centred approach to research training, to widening access to postgraduate study, and to disciplinary and interdisciplinary research excellence.

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.Our ESRC-funded DTP pathways are offered through our partnership with the University of Oxford and The Open University, and are available in two of our internationally recognised areas of research expertise – Health and Wellbeing, and Education.

Brunel DTP students on both pathways will be able to access specialist training and professional development opportunities provided across the DTP.  Current scholarship areas offered within the Brunel pathways are outlined below. Please follow the links for more detailed information about the areas available. All routes are offered part-time and full-time.

If you wish to gain further information on the Grand Union DTP, please take a look at the following recruitment guide here  and / or contact  emma.smith@brunel.ac.uk (BUL DTP/KTP Manager). 

We have confirmed the upcoming DTP webinar to take place at 15:00 on Thursday 31st October (from the Board Room in Hayes House). The published Eventbrite page for the webinar can be viewed at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/74664943857 and on the DTP website at: https://www.granduniondtp.ac.uk/events 

Grand Union Health and Wellbeing Pathway at Brunel

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 one of three research themes - Welfare Health and WellbeingAgeing Studies, and Health Economics. The Themes offer 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:

Grand Union Education Pathway

The Education Pathway  is led by  Oxford University in collboration with Brunel University London . Students accepted at Brunel will be members of the GUDTP 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’s excellence is illustrated by being rated as 10th best in the UK by the Complete University Guide, 2016, and by both Primary and Secondary PGCE programmes being rated as ‘Outstanding in All Areas’ by Ofsted in their most recent inspection. 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. Students will benefit from Brunel’s diverse specialist expertise in the following three research groups:  

Education, Identities and Society - please contact Dr Kate Hoskins (kate.hoskins@brunel.ac.uk)

The group has a strong and sustained research profile which sits at the intersection of Education, Sociology, Human Geography, Youth Studies, Gender and Feminist Studies and Digital Presence’. Our work covers all educational sectors and includes informal and alternative education settings. We would particularly welcome applications in the field of:

  • Access and widening participation
  • Embodiment and embodied learning
  • Family and parenting
  • Youth identities
  • Digital presence
  • Professional formations and professional identities
  • Power, resistance, and compliance
  • Education policy
  • Social Justice
  • Gender, Identities and Intersectionality
  • School-related gender-based violence
  • Medical/health professional identities and inequalities
  • Critical pedagogies
  • Global citizenship
  • Language and intercultural communication
  • Marginalised/excluded learners
  • Communities of Inclusive Practice

Pedagogy and Professional Education (contact Dr David Aldridge)

The Pedagogy and Professional Education Research Group brings together researchers in education with work that involves teaching, teacher education, teacher development, curriculum development and enhancement, and professional education. The research carried out by the group generates both theoretical and practical knowledge which is disseminated to users, policy-makers and the wider community through knowledge transfer activities.

Research areas

Research topics include: teacher learning, professional creativity, policy, use of language, English subject knowledge, reflective practice, curriculum enhancement, and pedagogy. 

STEM Education (contact Professor Mike Watts)

The STEM Education research group, led by Professor Mike Watts, is a multidisciplinary group of educators with strong research and development established in the field. The group is a focal point for collaborative work in STEM education, with cross-group activities and initiatives, and is intended to create synergy and instigate and support individual, small group and wider collaborative projects. Our research and educational enquiry is largely practice-based and aims to inform debates on STEM education and professional learning, and contribute to programmes of excellent teaching in both formal and informal educational settings.

Joint Oxford-Brunel supervision will be available where beneficial, drawing on existing external co-supervision practices. 

Please note this webpage will be updated periodically.


Academic qualifications

Applicants must satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements and should normally have a masters degree.

Residential eligibility

Applicants must be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA). In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship. See ESRC T & C for full details of residency requirements.

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must have successfully completed the English language IELTS requirements should be 7.0 overall, (7.0 for writing, and none below 6.5) in the last two years.


Subject to ESRC eligibility criteria, the studentship covers tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The value of the stipend will be at the standard UKRI rate.

As a ESRC student, the person selected will have full access to the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per year from across 3 universities in London and the South East. ESRC students can also apply for additional funding to support individual or group training and development activities.

The Application Process


Before applying to ESRC, please note that all ESRC awards are subject to the ESRC and RCUK Terms and Conditions. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. They are set out in ESRC website: https://esrc.ukri.org/files/skills-and-careers/doctoral-training/postgraduate-funding-guide/

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 studenship has been made.

  1. 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
    • Comment on your previous performance/achievements
    • Comment on your preparedness for doctoral study
    • Your predicted or actual degree result if appropriate
  2. Your up-to-date CV;
  3. Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project;
  4. Your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  5. Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 7.0 or equivalent, if appropriate;
  6. Evidence of Residential Eligibility. (https://esrc.ukri.org/files/skills-and-careers/doctoral-training/postgraduate-funding-guide/

Please email all completed documents to Emma.Smith@brunel.ac.uk with the subject header – Education/wellbeing ESRC Studentship application by no later than midday 17th January 2020. 

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 louise.mansfield@brunel.ac.uk for Health & wellbeing and Prof Maria Tsouroufli for Education maria.tsouroufli@brunel.ac.uk For all other enquiries, please contact Emma.Smith@brunel.ac.uk

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. 

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.