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Investigating the Online Service Experiences of Ethnic Minority Women

   School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

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  Dr G Netto  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is seeking candidates for a PhD position which will support the work of the principally funded EPSRC (£3.34M) project Protecting Minority Ethnic Communities Online (PRIME). The PRIME project aims to broaden understanding of online harm and how it can be mitigated through new systems, tools and processes by focusing on Minority Ethnic (ME) communities' experiences of digitalised services, particularly in the areas of housing, health and energy. We will draw on knowledge, methods and skills from social policy, cyber security and privacy, data mining and machine learning; human computer interaction, applied linguistics and educational technology.

Working closely with the National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence online (REPHRAIN ( the PRIME consortium includes researchers from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow, York, Cranfield, and Open Universities, and will engage with a wide range of individuals from ME communities, community organisations, public agencies and energy suppliers to identify and categorise the nature of the harms experienced, and assess the adequacy of existing systems and processes to counter them. We will translate this knowledge into the co-design and co-production of novel, effective and scalable social and technological harm-mitigating solutions through a Citizen-led Race Equity Living Lab (CREL) to counter discriminatory processes in digitalised services and enable organisations to address ethnic inequalities in service provision and demonstrate more accountability to the public in terms of greater transparency and equitable service outcomes.

The successful candidate will be joining The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and will work alongside the research team and another PhD student from computer sciences on the project. She/he will focus on minority ethnic women’s experience of one or two key digitalised services.


The applicant should hold or expect to gain a 1st Class Honours Degree in Social Science (or a cognate discipline) or Masters Degree in Social Science (or a cognate discipline). The applicant is expected to have a strong knowledge of equalities issues and access to public services, and to be experienced in qualitative research methods. Understanding of the ways in which different forms of discrimination intersect with each other to complicate access to services will be an advantage. Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.

We recognise that not every talented researcher will have had the same opportunities to advance their careers. We therefore will account for any particular circumstances that applicants disclose (e.g. parental leave, caring duties, part-time jobs to support studies, disabilities etc.) to ensure an inclusive and fair recruitment process. 


Please complete our online application form. Select PhD programme Urban Studies and include the project reference, title and supervisor names on your application. If these details are not included your application may not be considered.

Please provide a supporting statement outlining how you would approach the research and upload this to the research proposal section of the online application. You will be required to upload a CV, a copy of your degree certificate(s) and relevant transcript(s). You may also upload an academic reference to further support your application.

You must provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.


The closing date for applications is 25th February 2022. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of April 2022. Applicants MUST be available to start the course of study on a full-time basis in September/October 2022.

Funding Notes

Scholarships will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £15,609 for the 36 month duration of the project and is available to applicants from the UK, EU and overseas.
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