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Exploring women veterans’ experiences in the UK prison system.

   Vice Chancellor's PhD Studentships

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  Dr Lauren Godier-McBard, Dr Hilary Engward, Prof Matt Fossey  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The purpose of this PhD is to explore the lived experience of women veterans within the UK prison system. The national need for this research is gaining traction because women veterans are projected to increase to 30% by 2028, and historically, research and service design in the veteran field generally has mostly focused on the needs male veterans resulting in male-focused policy and support provision. The successful candidate will specifically address a knowledge gap about women veterans in the CJS system, as recognised in the Ministry of Justice report “The National Female Offender Strategy” (2018) which states that “Female offenders can be amongst the most vulnerable of all, in both the prevalence and complexity of their needs” and outlines a need to better reflect the needs of female offenders and their distinct needs. However, the report does not specifically address what the needs of such female veterans may be.

To date, the ARU Veterans and Families Institute has been world leading in identifying and responding to this knowledge and practice gap: Our ‘We Also Served’ report (Godier-McBard, Gillin & Fossey, 2021 led to the formation of the Serving and ex-Serving Women’s Health Improvement Group (SESWHIG) which has informed the national priority for NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI) ‘The Impact on Serving and ex-Serving Women Who Come into Contact with the Criminal Justice System’ and falls into the top 6 priorities outlined by NHSE and NHSI. The candidate will therefore be in a unique position to contribute to evidenced, informed policy changes in the prison system as a direct result of the findings of this project. Furthermore, as the first study of its kind in the UK, this doctoral project will make a unique contribution to the knowledge base in the UK and internationally.

The research will use qualitative methodology using semi structured interviews focussing on pathways into the CJS, barriers to disclosure of veteran status, and the support needs of women veterans in prison. The student undertaking this research will be situated within the VFI supervised by a team experienced in research with women veterans and veterans in the CJS.

The successful applicant will be supervised by a team led by Dr Godier-McBard, who currently leads the VFI’s Women and Equalities workstream and is nationally recognised as the leading expert in research with women veterans in the UK.

If you would like to discuss this research project please contact Dr Hilary Engward (hilary.engard(@)

Candidate requirements

Applications are invited from UK fee status only. Applicants should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum upper-second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Masters’ degree in a relevant subject is desirable.

Applicants must be prepared to study on a full-time basis, attending at our Chelmsford campus. The Vice Chancellor’s PhD scholarship awards are open to Home fee status applicants only.

Application Procedures

Applications for a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship are made through the application portal on our website:

 We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 27th February. We will contact shortlisted applicants in the week commencing 14th March. Interviews will be held between 21st March – 1st April. The interview date for this project can be found on our website.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the scholarships, please email vcphdscholarships(@)

Documentation required

You will need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

  1. Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Masters degrees, (if applicable)
  2. Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project
  3. Passport and visa (if applicable)
  4. Curriculum Vitae

Funding Notes

This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s scholarship awards which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship Terms and conditions which can be found on our website:
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