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3 Funded PhDs in Developing Inclusivity in Engineering (Inclusive Engineering Excellence Hub)

   Department of Chemical Engineering

  Dr E Ratcliffe, Dr L Justham, Dr Sheryl Williams  Friday, June 30, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Presently, there are still, lower proportions of engineering students and professionals that are female; with a declared disability; from low-socioeconomic; or ethnic minority backgrounds.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) challenges are compounded by an increased risk of poorer Higher Education outcomes, higher unemployment, and reduced translation into management. It is anticipated the next decade will bring further challenges given some of these groups have also been hardest hit by the Covid pandemic.

It is widely recognised change needs to accelerate and there is a need for change in how we educate the next generations of engineers. Research and discussions with students, staff, external partners, and industry and professional bodies cemented a central focus of our work in enhanced opportunities for students so that all engineering students feel valued, and the sector becomes more diverse long-term.

The Inclusive Engineering Excellence Hub; funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Loughborough University aims to develop knowledge in critical gaps in inclusivity in engineering and the discipline of inclusive engineering.

The Developing Inclusivity in Engineering PhDs are part of a mini-Centre for Doctoral Training consisting of 3 PhDs working together across the Loughborough Engineering Schools, supported by the Inclusive Engineering Excellence Hub team of academic staff.

The overarching theme of the Developing Inclusivity in Engineering mini-Centre for Doctoral Training is to develop and investigate strategies to improve diversity and inclusion in Higher Education Engineering.


Initial research will seek to develop bench-marking data within engineering, specifically at the engineering discipline level, to understand the differences within and between sectors. The 3 PhD students working together will enable the research to compare and contrast multiple engineering sectors considering wide-ranging axes of disparity (e.g. gender, disability, race etc) and intersectional diversity (e.g. interconnected relationships between aspects of diversity and disparity). The research aims to develop a framework for the widespread adoption of bench-marking, monitoring and impact assessment alongside the development of legacy demographical understanding.

Students will develop independent research by using this underpinning data and their own research to build their own case studies that investigate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion improvement strategies in Higher Education Engineering and effective methodology to measure the impact of these improvement strategies.

The Inclusive Engineering Excellence Hub is committed to undertaking initiatives which support under-represented groups to pursue educational and research experiences in engineering. Students will be supported to research and develop improvement strategies aligned to the Inclusive Engineering Excellence Hub and Developing Inclusivity in Engineering mini-Centre for Doctoral Training overarching themes.

Example strategies include the development of educational activities and industry training techniques to bridge the gaps in translation to industrial roles and there is an opportunity to develop new educational tools incorporating virtual reality technology.

There are 3 funded PhD opportunities available and applications are invited from prospective students with relevant experience in the following areas:

  • Data Analytics
  • Social sciences & Sociology
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering

Brief research proposals are welcome in which applicants could describe:

  1. how they would approach the research initially;
  2. or how their relevant experience is applicable to the themes, research aims or research tasks described above;
  3. or their own proposal for research investigating Equality, Diversity and Inclusion improvement strategies in Higher Education Engineering.


Primary supervisor: Dr Elizabeth Ratcliffe

Secondary supervisors: Dr Laura Justham and Dr Sheryl Williams

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

We welcome applications from graduates who hold or are expecting to achieve a first or upper-second degree (or equivalent) in a relevant social sciences/sociology, data analytics/computer science or engineering discipline.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

How to apply

All applications should be made online and must include a research proposal. Under the programme name, select 'Chemical Engineering'. Please quote the advertised reference number ER-02 in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

There are 3 PhD studentships available working across the Loughborough Engineering Schools, each studentship is for 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,000 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK rate. International students may apply however the total value of the studentship will cover the international tuition fee only.
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