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Criminology: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Collaborative Studentship: 'Immigration Control as Revenue Regime: Mapping the Contours and Consequence' in Collaboration with Migrant Action

Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law

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About the Project

Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2021.

This project seeks to examine something that is central to immigration control in the UK, but that has not been fully analysed as such: the role of fines, fees and charging regimes. That immigration control is located within a pluralised landscape (including, for example, through forms of outsourcing) is well established. However, there has been less theoretical analysis exploring and connecting the forms of revenue extraction by government departments within the routine operation of immigration enforcement and through the levying of fees from those subject to immigration control themselves. Operating through, for example, NHS and other charges, enforcement penalties and through visa and status charges, one recent analysis suggested that, in the 2017-18 financial year (albeit with caveats), some £1.754 billion was levied or charged in such contexts. The means through which this reproduces inequalities relating to precarity, access to justice and the extent to which this precipitates criminalisation are fundamental questions.   

Different components of this have been subjected to analysis. However, this first-of-its-kind project aims to examine the selective extraction of revenue through such mechanisms. It examines their connection to broader migration strategies, mapping the ways they operate and their historical lineages to examine their consequences for both those who are directly affected and for understandings of immigration control itself. Working collaboratively with a voluntary sector organisation at the front-lines of these policy areas, this project has unique access to a sample of those who are directly impacted by such forms of revenue extraction through its casework and also those who are working directly with those impacted in order to understand their effects at national levels. As such, it will draw on semi-structured interviews with key ‘stakeholders’ and, through its core research questions, will ask:

  • To what extent do these economic mechanisms interplay with broader roles and functions of immigration control?
  • What are the implications for those directly impacted?
  • In what ways do these mechanisms impact on the roles of bodies enforcing them?
  • Can robust accountability mechanisms be developed?

In asking these questions, this project has the potential to not only further understanding of the much-studied hostile (now ‘compliant’) policy framework but, more broadly, immigration control and forms of governance themselves which equally demand attention as part of and beyond this. Its unique collaborative basis with a migrant-led organisation working directly with under-represented groups underpins its strategic importance: enabling it to have a real impact through its inter-disciplinary focus.

We welcome applications for both full- and part-time study and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full-time year of a research training master’s degree followed by three years of full-time doctoral study or the part-time equivalent) or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.


A fully-funded Wales DTP studentship is available to both UK and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements.

Academic eligibility:

ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a first or a strong upper second class bachelor’s degree; applications from those who hold a relevant research training Masters degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will also be considered for a ‘+3’ award.


Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job or a permanent part-time job during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.

How to apply

To apply, please visit our website.

Funding Notes

The studentship provides the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.
Studentship awards commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,285 per annum for 2020/21 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

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