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Linguistics: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership PhD Collaborative Studentship ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse – A Focus on Offender-to-Offender Communication’

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, February 03, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2020. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Linguistics Pathway of the Wales DTP:

‘Online Child Sexual Abuse – A Focus on Offender-to-Offender Communication’ (working title) in collaboration with TARIAN-ROCU


O-CSAE is a major problem within modern society and prevention/prosecution agencies face a significant challenge: understanding of O-CSAE is limited, as consequently are counter-measures. This project focuses on offenders talking to each other online, either one-to-one or as part of offender networks. In their online interactions, offenders discuss their desires and disclose their (potential and/or actual) offending behaviours. They also disclose their attitudes towards online security and surveillance risks, including their use of identity protection tactics. As such, these interactions provide invaluable data for enhancing our understanding of O-CSAE, specifically of offenders’ modus operandi. Yet, only a handful of studies have examined offender talk online. Moreover, hardly any research has used Linguistics theories/methods.

This project will analyse the discourse between online child sexual offenders in order to:

- understand their perceptions of safety/risk online, identifying any tactics they may use to try to bypass detection;
- explore their online network building practices;
-map their online/offline offending pathways.

It is anticipated that methods from Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies will be used to explore the above project aims.

Design and anticipated outcomes:

Through this project a doctoral student will:

(1) acquire interdisciplinary research skills and transferable skills (e.g. collaborating with law enforcement on sensitive data analysis);

(2) generate research-based evidence that will feed into law enforcement protocols for tackling O-CSAE.

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 research training Masters 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.

Begin your postgraduate research journey at Swansea University: a top 30 research university (REF 2014) producing internationally recognised research that makes a real difference to society. We provide a welcoming environment for PhD researchers with specialist training, advice and development opportunities. As an ESRC Wales DTP researcher, you will also benefit from cohort-based networking events and dedicated ESRC Wales DTP student representatives at each campus.

Residential eligibility:

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. You must:

- be ordinarily resident in the UK, meaning there are no restrictions on how long you can stay, and
- have been ’ordinarily resident’ in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship grant. This means you must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences), and
- not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education).

Due to funding restrictions, these scholarships are not open to international candidates.

Academic eligibility:

ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master’s degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will 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.

Other Information:

The successful candidate will have some background in the study of discourse, preferably using Corpus Linguistics methods.

You will be required to apply for an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Clearance check, and the result of this check will be required prior to enrolment. For more information please see our website here:

EU Candidates: You are required to provide us with a Police Check prior to enrolment. In many countries this document is called “A Certificate of No Criminal Conviction”, “A Certificate of Good Conduct” or “A Police Clearance Certificate”. For more information please see our website here:

Funding Notes

The studentship provides the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend. There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

Studentship awards commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 per annum for 2019/20 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, oversea institutional visits and other small grants.

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