Collaborative doctoral programmes

We encourage the establishment of collaborative doctoral studentship projects, proposed by a University-based academic, to work in collaboration with an organisation outside of Higher Education.

The AHRC-funded CDA scheme and the ESCR-funded CASE scheme offer academics and non-HEI organisations from the private, public, or third sectors the opportunity to develop a bespoke, three-year PhD project with funding awarded to the host HEI to provide the PhD researcher with a stipend for the duration of the PhD.

The awards are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships, providing opportunities for doctoral researchers to develop research with a direct impact on an industry organisation and the wider community, while enhancing their professional profile.

The projects also encourage and establish networks and connections toward the development of long-term benefits for all collaborating partners, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise that may not otherwise have been available.

See our Introduction to Collaborative Doctoral Programmes presentation for more information.

You can also view these slides in a single, scrollable HTML page.

Application process and support

The AHRC CDA scheme and the ESRC CASE scheme have a similar structure but slightly different processes.

The application will need to be submitted to the NWCDTP for the former and the NWSSDTP for the latter. For more detailed information on the respective processes and deadlines see the relevant websites:

In addition to the support offered by the two DTPs on their processes and requirements, the Faculty of Humanities has established a new internal process to support academics looking to submit an application to the two schemes.

The aim of this internal process is to provide bespoke support and specific feedback on draft proposals.

Academic colleagues interested in applying are invited to complete the online Expression of Interest form.

We will then contact colleagues who express an interest in further support.

Recent awards in the Faculty

Manchester Citizen Advice Bureau

Financial insecurity in the UK: Debt, Decision-making, and resilience amongst low-income families

The aim of this interdisciplinary, mixed-method PhD is to develop an understanding of how people on low incomes manage their finances across their life course.

Working closely with the CAB, the PhD will provide a valuable contribution to the understanding of everyday financial insecurity and decision-making.

The project will provide much-needed evidence about everyday financial decision-making at the individual and household scale in the UK.

The PhD is especially timely given the significant reforms to the UK welfare system including tax credits.

PI: Dr Kingsley Purdam (SoSS)

Wildlife Trust Lancashire

Mosslands in early modern Lancashire, carbon, community and conservation, 1500/1800

This PhD project is an exploration of the historical decline of mossland landscapes in the northwest of England between 1500 and 1800.

I focus on three core themes; energy transformations and the industrial revolution, the management of peat as a fragile common-pool resource, and finally the historic characteristics of a changing mossland environment landscape.

Collaboration with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust will enable this project to make two further contributions; engaging local communities with the history of their environment and providing historical evidence to inform the reintroduction of locally extinct species.

PI: Prof. Sasha Handley (SALC)

Manchester Communication Academy

Living socioeconomic and educational 'Disadvantage': learning from young people and their experiences of an innovative school-led model of provision

This research will consist of an in-depth case study of an innovative school-led model for intervening in the interconnected issue of socioeconomic disadvantage and educational disadvantage for young people in a school: 'SID support'.

This is being developed and implemented by staff in the Social Investment Department (SID) of Manchester Communication Academy (MCA), which serves 11-16-year-old pupils in a high-poverty inner-city area.

Now in its second year, the model involves SID staff working intensively in partnership with learners giving cause for concern and their carers/families/peers, as a unit, to understand: (i) the complex webs of social determinants and interconnected relationships shaping the learner situation and his/her identity and agency; and (ii) how learners/families/peers/MCA, connected to other professional services, can work together to intervene in ways which account for the complexities of the learner's situation.

Bespoke support plans are developed and implemented drawing upon MCA's wider partnerships and actions to tackle potential underlying forms of socioeconomic and related educational disadvantage - from addressing economic disadvantage, for example, food poverty, to supporting educational disadvantage that relates to both social and cultural and material elements of socioeconomic disadvantage, for example, university access.

PI: Dr Carlo Raffo (SEED)

St Patrick’s Teaching School

Lessons from 'odds-beating' schools: understanding how schools serving disadvantaged areas achieve good outcomes

In recent decades, affluent countries worldwide have sought to improve the quality of their schools.

But despite some gains, the poorest learners, living in the poorest areas, are still doing systematically least well (OECD 2017).

In England, policymakers have started to think about these spatial concentrations of poor outcomes as 'cold spots'.

With reference to schooling, the Department for Education (DfE) and National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) have defined these as areas with the highest levels of disadvantage, where schools face the most challenging circumstances, and where additional supports are needed to improve schools and children's lives (DfE and NCTL 2018).

Recent efforts to "grow support in cold spot areas" have included the creation of Teaching Schools, defined as "strong schools led by strong leaders that work with others to provide high-quality training, development and support" (DfE and NCTL, 2018).

Distinctively, this approach seeks to harness the expertise of schools which Campbell-Wilcox (2017) terms 'odds-beating' - ie. consistently achieving good outcomes, through equitable practices, in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Given Ofsted's concerns that some schools are securing improvements by exacerbating inequalities by excluding the most disadvantaged learners, learning from schools that appear more equitable is especially important.

In response, this study seeks to learn more about how schools that appear 'odds-beating' succeed and to use this knowledge to inform Teaching Schools' work.

Specifically, it will explore how these schools: understand disadvantages in their local contexts and student populations; respond to these in practice; and what it is about the nature of their response that supports their success.

Simply, little research has sought to understand schools that appear odds-beating as whole, complex, contextualised, multi-faceted organisations, and in sufficient detail to explore the potential transferability of their approaches - in whole or in part.

This may leave Teaching Schools with few reference points beyond their own practices, and constrained by the limitations inherent in these when thinking about what schools in cold spots can do to improve.

Explicitly addressing these issues, this study has been co-designed with St Patrick's Teaching School, which is committed to developing high-quality research-informed support and led by a DfE-appointed National Leader of Education. It will ask three overarching questions:

  1. How do schools which appear odds-beating understand disadvantages in their local contexts and student populations?
  2. How do they respond to this?
  3. What is it about the nature of their response that supports their success?

The CASE student will work closely with the CASE partner to establish the triad.

PI: Dr Kirsten Kerr (SEED)

British Council Ukraine

Youth Engagement in Young Democracies: Assessing the Patterns, Processes, and Impact of Youth Engagement in Ukraine

Economic globalisation, marginalisation, and precarity have contributed to mobility, mass protest, and insurgency.

Young people play a significant role in sustaining protest movements and represent a core demographic in internal displacement and migration.

Analysts have pointed to the interdependence of these two forms of mobilisation, and theoretical expectations of their drivers overlap significantly.

The relationship between them has been theorized at the macro (De Haas & Sigona 2012), and individual levels (Hirschman 1993), yet the literature on protest and migration tend to be discrete.

This project takes Ukraine as a case to consider critically the relationship between youth engagement, protest, and migration at moments of heightened political crisis and conflict.

This includes analysis of the micro-foundations of mobilisation as mass protest and migration, in contextual and structural perspective, and exploration of the dynamics between them.

What motivates and mobilises post-communist youth to become socially and politically engaged?

In displacement how do people participate in the political and civic life of their home?

Further, how does youth mobilisation in, across, and out of Ukraine relate to democratisation and peace development?

PI: Dr Olga Onuch (SoSS)

Bank of England

Did the Bank of England provide lender-of-last-resort facilities to the private sector in the first 150 years of its existence?

The research question being asked is to what extent the Bank of England developed its private lending business and in times of crisis provided lender of last resort facilities to the private sector in the first 150 years of its existence.

Using the modern statistical and economic models in this brand new data will bring new insights about how to act in modern financial crisis situations because we must look at the policy successes as well as failures.

Lovell argued that the Bank operated as a lender of last resort in the second half of the 18th century.

This was based on data on the Banks revenue from bill discounting business which Clapham collected for his two-volume history of the Bank.

But this general hypothesis has not really been looked at again in any detail for this period using material from the Bank of England archives, in contrast with the period after 1844.

The main question is how did this business evolve and did the Bank develop techniques for monitoring its counterparties and providing emergency liquidity in a crisis.

To what extent is this evident in the sophistication of the bookkeeping done by the Bank?

This ranged from the use of Britannia as a 'symbol of virtue' to the use of open-plan offices and banking halls where the ledgers were on display, something which enabled it to demonstrate publicly its assiduous bookkeeping.


Precarious employment and pension planning

This collaborative studentship between the University of Manchester and NEST investigates the pension planning of precarious workers, providing new and urgently required sociological insights into how this growing segment of the population is managing an increasingly privatised and individualised pension system.

This proposed study will investigate how precarious workers manage their economic insecurity in the long term by asking the following questions.

  • How do precarious workers on low pay conceptualise money in its different forms?
  • Do people undertake any form of mental accounting between these forms of money, especially debt versus saving?
  • What is the role of class, socio-economic status, occupational skill level, and education level in influencing financial decision-making for precarious workers?
  • How do current employment characteristics such as work, pay, or sector, influence financial decision-making and pension planning?
  • How important are transitory employment and other insecurities such as housing, as factors?
  • How do individual characteristics interact with the workplace, advice, family, and partnership contexts to influence financial decision-making and pension planning?
  • How do those in precarious employment understand the respective roles of government, employer, financial advisers, themselves, and their family and friends in influencing their own financial and pension decisions?
  • How do those in precarious employment embed thinking about their possible pensions into their own life course narratives and identities?

PI: Prof Debora Price (SOSS)

Oxfam GB

The causes and consequences of precarious work for women: A city region study of Greater Manchester

This CASE project, based at the Work and Equalities Institute (WEI), looks at the increasingly widespread precarious work in labour markets, with a focus on the care and hospitality sectors in the UK.

The project, led by PhD Candidate Eva Herman, aims to better understand the causes and consequences of precarious work and how it affects men and women in different ways.

Read more about this project in "Embedded in Policy", by Eva Herman, in the AMBS Magazine, n. 7 (pp. 20-23).

PI: Prof Jill Rubery (AMBS)

Case studies

Little Moreton Hall

Nurturing Happiness: Affective Health and Wellbeing in the North West of England

A CASE project in Economic and Social History exploring the affective health and well-being in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Partner overview

Little Moreton Hall is a Tudor household located in Congleton, Cheshire.

It is now part of the National Trust's portfolio of historic properties and is, therefore, a registered charity.

Project background

This CASE PhD project (2019-2023) challenges the widespread belief that happiness is a modern phenomenon and confronts the accompanying assumption that people prior to the eighteenth century were particularly sad and melancholic.

It rehabilitates a positive history of affective health and wellbeing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and establishes that people could and frequently did attain happiness in practice.

It teases out the multiple ways that people in the North West of England actively nurtured and invested in their happiness through exploring the relationships between people, objects, and environments.

In collaborating with the National Trust's Little Moreton Hall and the New Vic Theatre Company, as well as Chorley Council's Astley Hall and the University of Manchester's Institute of Cultural Practices, the project disseminates its findings in interactive and innovative ways that will speak to different demographic groups.

Research team

  • Lead PhD Researcher: Abigail Greenall, PhD Candidate, Department of History, SALC, University of Manchester.
  • Industry Supervisor: Kate Picker, visitor experience manager at Little Moreton Hall, National Trust.
  • Primary Academic Supervisor: Professor Sasha Handley, Department of History, SALC, University of Manchester.
  • Secondary Academic Supervisor: Dr Stefan Hanß, Department of History, SALC, University of Manchester.

Research approach

The project is underpinned by an innovative approach to the history of happiness.

It juxtaposes a broad range of historical sources and methodologies to uncover new information about daily life and events in the past.

It combines a detailed analysis of written, material, and archaeological sources belonging to eight families across the North West of England.

The diversity of sources and the project's focus on people's everyday lives relies on the successful fusion of interdisciplinary research methods: historical, archaeological, anthropological, and philosophical.

The project will result in two pieces of written work — a master's dissertation and PhD thesis — that will contribute to and transform current social, cultural, emotional, and material histories of the early modern period.

It will also bring historical and archaeological methods to bear on public history by liaising with local heritage sites in the redevelopment of their current historic interpretation packages and ongoing public programming.

Expected outcomes

Little Moreton Hall's current interpretation is based exclusively on the Tudor period.

There is a wealth of previously unexamined documentary evidence (including hundreds of family letters and no less than four household accounts books) pertaining to the seventeenth century at the British Library.

By photographing, transcribing, critically analysing, and contextualising these important sources, the project will provide the site with a wealth of new information, and, in the long run, enable the Interpretation team to expand their current focus on the Tudor period.

In sharing this research and in leading skill-share sessions with National Trust volunteers the project also intends to enrich their historical knowledge and provide them with important new skills.

Follow Abigail's work as a resident PhD researcher at the Hall can be seen here.

Abigail's research will finally be condensed and brought in line with the National Trust's programming guidelines and brand standards for it to be disseminated more widely to a non-academic audience.

She will also play a crucial role in the design and creation of a 3D model and online exhibition of Chorley Council's Astley Hall, which will play a key role in enriching Astley Hall's Arts and Heritage team school outreach programme and public accessibility.

In shadowing Kate Picker as she plans a new exhibition at Little Moreton Hall and in receiving visitor experience training from her, Abigail will develop the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to become an active participant in the design and creation of an interpretation package and public programming schedule at an important local heritage site, which is valuable for a social historian who seeks to make an impact within academic institutions and the wider community.

This CASE project in Economic and Social History is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via the North West Social Science Doctoral Training Training Partnership (NWSSDTP).

Manchester Art Gallery

'A community united will never be broken': Spontaneous memorialisation as an act of community resilience and social solidarity

Exploring how community resilience and solidarity stand as instrumental components for community recovery post-trauma.

Partner overview

Manchester Art Gallery is the original useful museum, initiated in 1823 by artists, as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health, and productivity.

The gallery is free and open to all people as a place of civic thinking and public imagination, it promotes art as a means to achieve social change.

It has been at the centre of city life for nearly 200 years, created as the Royal Manchester Institution for the Promotion of Literature, Science and the Arts, and has been proudly part of Manchester City Council since 1882.

The gallery is for and of the people of Manchester.

Through its collections, displays, and public programmes it works with all our constituents to ensure creativity, care, and consideration infect all aspects of the way we live.

Project background

Following the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017, over 10,000 objects were left by the public in spontaneous memorials that formed in St. Ann's Square and other sites across the city.

From this, a collaboration of organisations was formed with a view to conserve, preserve and document these objects.

These organisations include Manchester Art Gallery, University of Manchester, and Archives+.

As part of this collaboration, this research utilises the archive space in Manchester Art Gallery to engage in hands-on, object-based research to explore the social relevance and meanings that are created, conveyed, and communicated through the process of public memorialisation.

This research is necessary because there is a growing need for institutions to question their role in how they handle, frame, and interpret the social memory of such memorials and the meanings ascribed to them. Such questions include:

  • How can a deeper understanding of the construction and materiality of these unprompted, public memorials help archives maintain responsible decision-making in the early stages of collection and preservation?
  • How can handling and investigating these meaning-making artefacts in an archival setting frame the legacy for future public engagement?
  • How do archives future-proof collections so that they can continue to narrativise the memories and meanings of public performative commemoration, whilst maintaining social relevance and value?
  • Lead Researcher: Robert Simpson, Museology, University of Manchester, School of Arts and Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities.
  • Academic Supervisor: Dr Kostas Arvanitis, Institute for Cultural Practices, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester. Kostas is Senior Lecturer in Museology and Director of the Institute for Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester.
  • Industry Supervisor: Amanda Wallace, Senior Operational Lead at Manchester Art Gallery, part of the Libraries, Galleries, and Archive Service of Manchester City Council.

Research approach

This research draws on the format, design, length, content, and language of the written notes, objects, and messages left at the spontaneous memorial, and uses a mixed-methods approach of object-based analysis, alongside theories from Social Semiotics to explore the multiple layers of meanings communicated through these objects.

The thesis is that the social processes of meaning-making at spontaneous memorials are not exclusively limited to the language expressed in writing, but that almost every element in the construction of these temporary memorials (from the design, formation, layout, and arrangement of mourning objects; to the images, colours, signs, and symbols that often accompany the written messages) are intended to articulate a range of 'different social and cultural meanings'; that these semiotic resources operate multimodally to communicate public feeling and facilitate collective healing post-trauma.

Expected outcomes

This project will allow the Manchester Art Gallery to better understand the continued relevance of the archive itself and the potential for future engagement both on an academic and public level.

In the long term, this project will also contribute understanding and insight to a growing body of research about spontaneous memorials worldwide.

This project, in fact, offers unique opportunities to collaborate with researchers and organisations worldwide and to become part of a network of research.

From an academic point of view, the project contributes to our understanding of the cultural heritage of trauma and related issues of memorialisation, collective memory, identity construction, resilience, and legacy.

This research also informs conceptual and professional practice towards the documentation of spontaneous memorials, both in Manchester and elsewhere, which in turn can add to academic and cultural professionals' debates on changes required in heritagisation policies and practices to accommodate the needs that spontaneous memorials present locally, nationally and internationally.

This CDA project (2019-22) is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) via the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP).