NEWS PhD Studentship Opportunity at the University of Glasgow

NEWS PhD Studentship Opportunity at the University of Glasgow

The School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow has a new call for applications to do a PhD studentship on the private rented sector.

Project title: The impact of legislative change on the Private Rented Sector: A natural experiment between Scotland & England

Type of award: Scottish Parliament Information Centre/ Scottish Graduate School of Social Science ESRC Collaborative Studentship (1+3 or +3)

Eligibility:  2.1. degree or higher in the social sciences or another relevant discipline (such as statistics, geography or other cognate subjects).

Closing date for applications: 30th June

Date for interviews: 19th July

Start date: by 1st October 2019


Summary: Applications are invited from quantitative social scientists (or from other relevant disciplines) with an interest in pioneering the use of` Big data to examine the impact of the Scottish Governments Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) 2016 Act.  The PhD studentship is funded collaboratively by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre and the Scottish Doctoral Training Centre on behalf of the ESRC.

The successful applicant will have an interest in Housing Policy and Housing Studies and will be keen to explore the potential of using big data in conjunction with more traditional survey data. The student will also to be willing to explore different natural experiment methodology and different statistical techniques like: Difference in Difference; and time series models such as Vector Autoregression (VAR) models. They will need to meet the ESRC research training and residency requirements (see ‘Eligibility’ below).

The studentship will provide an unrivalled opportunity to develop valuable expertise and experience in this kind of work through close links with two ESRC research centres based in the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre all with interest in research into the Private Rented Sector and but with complementary skills:

  • the ERSC-funded Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC), located in the University of Glasgow and the base for this studentship, and focussed on local authority and business data;
  • the ESRC-funded UKs Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE),
  • SPICE is the Scottish Parliament’s impartial research and information service

The student will benefit from excellent supervisory support. The lead supervisor, Professor Ken Gibb, is Director of the CaCHE and is located within Urban Studies, one of Europe’s leading centres for inter-disciplinary urban research, with a strong interest in housing and housing research. The student will also be supervised by Dr Mark Livingston who is the lead for housing research within the Urban Big Data Centre and part of Urban Studies; and Kate Berry who is a senior researcher in the Justice and Social Affairs Unit in SPICe and is the lead for housing at SPICe.

Studentship award: The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training.  This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process.  The programme will, preferably, commence in September 2019.  It includes

  • an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
  • fees at the standard Home rate
  • students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

The 1+3 scholarship is for candidates with a first degree in social sciences or a related area but no Masters-level training. For these candidates, the studentship would also provide fees and stipend for the additional year to complete the MRes in Urban Research with a quantitative emphasis as preparation for undertaking the PhD.

Eligibility: Applicants must have a 2.1. degree or higher in the social sciences or another relevant discipline (such as statistics, geography or other cognate subjects). They should also be able to demonstrate that they meet the ESRC research training requirements: successful completion of Masters-level courses in basic quantitative methods, in basic qualitative methods and in social theory for social scientists. Students with strong quantitative skills who do not have the required training in qualitative methods and/or social theory may be considered. In these cases, the award of the studentship will be conditional on them successfully completing agreed training during their first year. A good grounding in quantitative methods is essential, however, given the nature of the PhD.

Students due to complete a Masters programme prior to October 2019 are encouraged to apply although any award may be contingent on final results. In exceptional cases, applicants may be exempt from the research training requirement if they can demonstrate excellent research skills obtained through previous employment.

The studentship has residency requirements in addition to academic requirements. Funding for fees is only available to people who are ‘ordinarily resident in an EU state’ while the stipend is only payable to people who are also ‘ordinarily resident in the UK’. For further information on these requirements, please see:

The selected candidate will need to be approved by the Scottish Graduate School Doctoral Training Centre.

How to apply:

The closing date for applications is Insert date with interviews to be held with short-listed candidates on Insert date.  Applications should be made online to the College of Social Sciences Graduate School and should include a two-page statement of your interest in the advertised topic.

For general information including suitability of existing research training or eligibility, please contact Prof Moira Munro, Convenor of the Doctoral Programme at For specific information on the PhD, please contact Mark Livingston at or Ken Gibb at

Selection Process:

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview, from which a preferred candidate will be identified. Any award is subject to candidates securing admission to a PhD programme within the College of Social Sciences and being approved by the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Further particulars

The Scottish Private Rental Sector (PRS) has tripled in size in a 20-year period following a long decline for most of the 20th Century. Many countries in Europe have successful PRSs but these are highly regulated. In the UK the PRS has had little regulation since the late eighties and is viewed, by some commentators, as the least stable of all tenures.  In addition to the growth of the PRS, the nature of private renting has also changed. Younger people now stay longer in private renting, with some predicted to spend much of their adult life in the PRS (“Generation Rent”). The number of households with children living in the PRS has also grown.

In Scotland, changes have been made to legislation on PRS tenancies through the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016. The Act has introduced a new tenancy with some limitations on rents and changes aimed at increasing security of tenure. The aim of this PhD is to examine whether changes to Scottish PRS legislation impacts on PRS supply, rents, security and satisfaction of tenants, by making comparison to England. The student will be expected to use data from a range of sources including repeated cross sectional UK surveys (e.g. Family Resource Survey, Annual Population Survey), longitudinal UK household surveys (Understanding Society) and big data sources (online rental advertisements database from the Urban Big Data Centre).

Candidates should have undertaken some initial training in statistics or quantitative research methods and, more importantly, be keen to develop their expertise in this area. The studentship provides an excellent opportunity to receive a training in advanced quantitative research skills, and in the exploitation of Big Data in particular – a relatively new and fast-growing field for researchers. The PhD will be situated jointly in two of the UK’s leading centres for housing and urban research, both based in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow . This will provide an unrivalled opportunity for training and development. The research will benefit from collaboration with the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) who are part funding the PhD, and will also be represented on the supervisory team.  SPICe is the Scottish Parliament’s impartial research and information service.  As part of the collaboration, the successful candidate will be expected to spend some of their study time based in the SPICe offices in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.