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University academics can now submit their proposals through the Scottish Graduate School for collaborative PhD studentships.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS), in partnership with the Scottish Graduate School for Social Science (SGSSS), is delighted to announce that the 2018 SDS collaborative PhD supervisor-led competition is now open.

Proposals are welcome from academics across the SGSSS-Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP) accredited pathways.

SDS is co-funding four studentships which will be either full-time three year PhD studentship with a Masters year or PhD Studentships without the Masters year.

The partnership aims to support four new PhD studentships per year, with 16 currently enrolled. Each one of the students is supported by two academic supervisors and one SDS sponsor.

Gabi Lipan, a current PhD student at The University of Aberdeen, said: "SDS provide fantastic support at a personal level and what’s great is that they’ve been just as interested and excited about our project as we are. The opportunities this programme offers to network and discuss your research and ideas with people coming from many different backgrounds are invaluable."

The SDS sponsor provides the student with advice and support, access to resources and facilitates communication with SDS to ensure policy focus and relevance.

Emily Nordmann, Gabi's PhD supervisor, said: "The SDS Collaborative Studentship has provided valuable support, in particular, networking opportunities that would be difficult to obtain outwith the programme. Gabi, who is in the first year of his PhD, has been able to meet with final year PhD students working on similar projects, as well as taking advantage of the knowledge of the SDS team and is looking forward to being paired with his official sponsor. Working with SDS allows us to knowledge-share with people from multiple perspectives and is a real strength of the programme and the research conducted as part of it."

The research from the PhD will provide new knowledge and insights in crucial areas including careers advice, work based learning and the wider skills landscape.


"SDS provide fantastic support at a personal level and what’s great is that they’ve been just as interested and excited about our project as we are."

The research topics for this year’s competition include:

  • Transitions and labour market outcomes for ethnic minority young people in Scotland
  • Adapting to a changing landscape, SME engagement and best practice in creating workplace learning environment
  • New opportunities for work-based learning in high performance organisations
  • The development of skills for the future of work

The overall purpose of the SDS-SGSSS PhD scheme is to engage and work in partnership with the academic community to support the production of new, high-quality research focused on the Scottish skills system and skills landscape.

The SDS PhD programme aligns existing and future PhDs to the new Centre for Work-based Learning (CWBL).

The Centre’s goal is to influence policy and practice and to enhance the perception of work-based learning. This alignment will further seek to develop new and innovative, high-quality research that is more closely linked to skills policy and practice.

The SGSSS is a highly attractive environment for doctoral research and the participation of SDS in the collaborative PhD programme will enhance this further by providing students with a unique opportunity to develop their research expertise in a policy and practice context.

The deadline for applications in 2017 will be Thursday 14th of December 2017.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of January 2018.

Please visit the SGSSS website for more information and application details or contact 

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