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13 June 2013

‘Representations of community health and well-being: the role of creative arts in generating evidence for policy and action’


Applications are being sought for a prestigious (+3) full time PhD Studentship, to be based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2013.

About the project: Existing data on poor health and unhealthy lifestyles tend to portray particular communities as deficit in skills and knowledge with a focus on the need for behaviour change interventions and education. Community based creative representations provide opportunities to present counter narratives to these, though they are often dismissed as lacking in scientific value and rigour.

The studentship will explore how the role and language of arts-based representations of community can be positioned to inform the development of both policy and social action. This area of research coincides with an emerging recognition of the need for public health perspectives that integrate material, emotional, aesthetic and moral dimensions of lived experience. Public health has become adept at understanding the material aspects of living conditions and is disposed to act and treat conditions which lend themselves to this epistemology. However, limited and ill sustained gains around current priorities such as health inequalities and psycho-social conditions (including mental illness, substance misuse and violence) have been achieved through the "five basic sciences of public health" (Hanlon et al 2012) : epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental science, management and social science. The research proposed here will explore the role of the arts in providing insight into aesthetic considerations of lived experience in a manner which does not necessarily translate into existing scientific discourses of health policy makers concerning justification or validity.

The PhD studentship will contribute to a research project funded by the AHRC and ESRC as part of the Connected Communities Programme entitled ‘Representing communities: developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-being’.  The studentship provides an excellent opportunity to contribute to the Connected Communities programme and the growing collaboration between communities, academics and the creative industries.  The project is led by Professor Gareth Williams at Cardiff University and will draw on, and contribute to, the development of 5 local projects in different devolved policy contexts in Wales (Butetown, Cardiff and Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil), Scotland (Dennistoun, Glasgow and Cromarty, Highlands and Islands) and England (Hodge Hill, Birmingham). This studentship would suit applicants with a background in sociology and an academic interest in the role of arts in society.  Travel to the research sites across the UK will be expected.

Information about the School: 

Cardiff School of Social Sciences is a large School with over 160 staff and a thousand undergraduate and postgraduate students. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise rated almost all of its research to be of an international standard, with 55% of it either “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. This rating, together with the size of the School, places it amongst the top five centres in the UK. Since its creation in 2000, the School has attracted over £18 million of research funds.

Cardiff University is the home of the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Centre, part of a national network of 21 accredited Doctoral Training Centres across the UK judged by the ESRC to deliver truly excellent postgraduate training provision.

About the studentship 

The award is available on a +3 basis. A +3 studentship provides funding for the three years only, and assumes that the applicant will already have had research training from an appropriate master’s degree.

Studentships will commence in September 2013 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant and an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) for three years for full-time students. In 2012 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £13,590 and the RTSG was £750.

ESRC studentships are available from the Wales DTC for UK and EU students who meet residency requirements set out by the ESRC. Please consult the ESRC Postgraduate Funding Guide for full details on residential eligibility requirements.

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation by the deadline of 12.00pm, Friday 19th July 2013. Note that the deadline is absolute and applications received after this specified time and date will not be accepted.  

  • Covering letter and CV - Please send in a covering letter outlining what makes you a suitable candidate (this should cover what skills/knowledge you bring to the project, what aspects you find particularly interesting and any ideas you may they have on how it could be developed). This should be no more than 2 pages. You will also need to submit a CV with this.
  • A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in the School of Social Sciences – submitted to the Academic Registry via the online admissions portal:

(Please specify the School of Social Sciences – Research Degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Social Sciences) with a start date of October 2013)

Applicants should complete the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application form (approx 500 words) to summarise how they would approach the given specified research project.  They should use the ‘Personal Statement’ section (approx 500 words) of the application form to compliment the information given in the covering letter and talk more about their background and interest in postgraduate study.

Academic References – all applications require two references to be submitted in support. Please ensure that your chosen referees are aware of the funding deadline, as we will be using these to help us evaluate your ESRC studentship application.
Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application by the funding deadline.
A sample of written work – applicants should submit a piece of written work that they have either published or has been submitted as part of their higher education experience.

How applications will be assessed

The closing deadline for applications is 12.00pm, Friday 19th July 2013. Application forms will be assessed by a panel made up of the project supervisors and the Director of Graduate Studies, following which short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. We expect interviews to take place in late July/early August 2013. Candidates called for interview will be invited to discuss their background and motivation for doctoral research, and will also be asked to be prepare a 10 minute presentation as to how they might  research representations of community health and well-being and, in particular, the role of creative arts in generating evidence for policy and action.

If you have any queries regarding the studentship please contact Vicky Parkin – 02920 870 855 (9am-1pm)