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PhD researcher

Cardiff University
School of Geography and Planning, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff cf10 3wa

Posted: 08/01/2019

Deadline: 01/02/2019

Compensation: Studentship awards commence in October 2019 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £14,777 per annum for 2018/19 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support

Paid Full-time Part-time

Job description

‘Nothing about us without us is for us?’: Examining the transformative potential of public engagement in politics of (in)justice’

How can those with experiences of food insecurity play a meaningful part in work to tackle it? This project will explore the politics and potential of new governance mechanisms seeking to empower people at the margins. It is an opportunity to work alongside two leading UK charities as they support local alliances acting on food poverty.

Project Description

There is growing recognition among academics, politicians and activists of the need for coordinated action between people experiencing food poverty and the multiple organisations, networks and campaigning bodies responding to household food insecurity (Lambie-Mumford, 2017; Garthwaite 2016). Forms of participation and collaboration can often fail to fully engage with those ‘living at the margins’ so (re)produce new elites and exclude alternative discourses (Cadieux and Slocum, 2015; Moragues-Faus, 2017). However, engaging with people experiencing food insecurity - often termed ‘experts by experience’ (McLaughlin, 2009; Thomas-Hughes 2018) - comes with a number of ethical and practical difficulties. To address these challenges, this project aims to understand the politics of creating new governance mechanisms that empower ‘experts by experience’, and focuses on third sector networks engaging marginalised groups. Research questions include: how, and through what mechanisms, can different stakeholders enact political/participative/productive justice (Fraser, 2009; Moragues-Faus, 2017; O’Connor, 1998)? What is the capacity of ‘experts by experience’ to contribute to transformative politics? What power does lived experience of injustice have within policy making? 

These questions will be interrogated within the context of networks tackling food insecurity, generating learning for social action on other forms of injustice similarly seeking to engage those with lived experience (e.g. homelessness).  The researcher will work closely with local food poverty alliances to interrogate the potential of networks to lever local and systemic change in relation to food insecurity, and the ambivalent politics of working across lines of social difference and the contested meaning of ‘expertise’.

The PhD project extends geographic scholarship on food politics (Moragues-Faus and Morgan, 2015) by examining the possibilities of, and barriers to, more participatory spaces of engagement. Investigating the ethical and practical dilemmas of engaging ‘experts by experience’ within civic action and anti-poverty politics will contribute to participatory geographies. The project will provide theoretical and practitioner-relevant insights into what strategies, structures, and scales of mobilization are effective in different communities. There will be opportunities to research and share findings directly with ‘experts by experience’, national and local alliances and organisations.

The project will partner with Sustain and Church Action on Poverty and involve their Food Power network of food poverty alliances, with a particular focus on programme activity involving experts by experience. The student will be able to spend time with programme staff, local alliances and attend programme events. This is an exciting collaborative opportunity between academia and third sector partners and the project will be of interest to the wider food and social justice sectors.


This studentship is a ‘collaborative’ award. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and prior to applying may wish to contact the named supervisor - Dr Andrew Williams (Cardiff University) -

A short description of the accredited Human Geography pathway is also available on the ESRC Wales DTP website.


Each studentship provides the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2019 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £14,777 per annum for 2018/19 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, oversea institutional visits and other small grants. 

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Master's in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent). 


We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Master's followed by three years of full-time doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Each institution values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Academic eligibility:

ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master's degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award.

Residential eligibility:

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. You must:

  • be ordinarily resident in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long you can stay, and
  • have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences), and
  • not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education).

Due to funding restrictions, these scholarships are not open to international candidates.


Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent part-time job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.

Application information

Please apply for a place via  

The application must contain the following documents:

  1. Covering letter: Please address to Professor Mark Jayne. The covering letter must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University, and the chosen pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to the description of the project. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please specify whether you wish to apply on a ‘+3’ or ‘1+3’ basis . Remember also to specify that your application concerns ESRC Wales DTP collaborative studentships and include in your application the name of the project and supervisor.
  2. Academic / professional qualifications: Please provide copies of certificates and transcripts. Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
  3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves, and submit the references with their application.
  4. Curriculum Vitae: It should be no longer than two pages.
  5. Research Proposal Response: For Collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description (above) and we suggest that you use the following five headings to elaborate 
    • Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
    • Your overview of key academic literature relevant to the study;
    • Your thoughts on proposed design / methods of the study;
    • Consideration of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);

Please note that incomplete applications or applications received after the specified time will not be accepted. 

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 1 February 2019.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview; interviews are expected to take place in March 2019. After interview, a final shortlist of applicants will be put forward to a panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases, successful applicants can expect to hear by mid-April 2019. 

Informal enquiries about these studentships are welcome, and should be directed to Professor Mark Jayne (Cardiff University,

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About Cardiff University

Our world-leading research was ranked 5th amongst UK universities in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework for quality and 2nd for impact. We provide an educationally outstanding experience for our students.