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NUAcT PhD Studentship: Data, Reproductive Politics, and Society

   School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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  Dr Mwenza Blell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University invites applications for a doctoral studentship for research on social science perspectives on reproductive technologies and/or data-centric technologies. The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Mwenza Blell and will have the opportunity to shape a project with points of connection with Mwenza's current anthropological research on reproduction, technology, ethics and politics. The successful candidate will join a vibrant research community at Newcastle with internationally-recognised expertise in social anthropology and sociology.

Technological innovation’s impacts on society are pervasive and often imperceptible but can also be highly politicised and controversial. Reproductive technologies (including contraception, abortion, gestational surrogacy, uterine transplant, gamete donation, in vitro fertilisation), both new and emerging, can unsettle or reinscribe local moral worlds. Scholars of reproductive politics note that such technologies can be rejected or recruited as part of wider political battles. Calls for reproductive justice, emerging from the US, offer an alternative Black feminist lens through which to view political battles over reproduction and their consequences for marginalised groups.

Data and data-driven technologies have increasingly obvious contemporary political and social relevance. They too have a ubiquitous but often obscured impact on daily life. The important and far-reaching social and political changes this has wrought are referenced in terms like data politics. Responses to these changes that resist oppressive impacts take various forms, some referred to as data justice, algorithmic justice, and data feminism.

Applicants are invited to propose research furthering social scientific knowledge around one or both of these topics. Potential themes might be:

  • Algorithmic bias in health and social care
  • Gender, race, and data-driven technologies
  • Data practices and the carceral state
  • Legacies of oppression in data practices
  • Reproductive justice within countries in the Nordic or Baltic regions
  • Precarity and data surveillance in immigration systems
  • Queer reproduction and technology
  • Colonial legacies in data science
  • Machine learning in reproductive or obstetric care

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2023

Award Duration

3 years 

Application Closing Date

13 February 2023 (expression of interest by 7 January 2023)


Newcastle University (NUAcT fellowship)


Dr Mwenza BlellSchool of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Eligibility Criteria

A demonstrable interest in social scientific inquiry is essential. It is desirable that the successful applicant will have evidence of an interest in anthropology or sociology of reproduction, anthropology of technology, sociology of scientific knowledge, social studies of science and technology, or feminist technoscience. Experience of conducting research at Master’s level is also desirable, although an additional 6 months research training would be provided for applicants without a research-accredited MA qualification. 

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all sub-skills.

The studentship covers fees at the Home rate (UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status and meet the residency criteria). International applicants are welcome to apply but will be required to cover the difference between Home and International fees.

How To Apply

To apply, please contact Dr Mwenza Blell ([Email Address Removed]) directly to express interest before 7 January 2023. The deadline for full applications is 13 February 2023.

To apply for a studentship, you must apply through the Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’. 

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study: 

  • search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8203F 
  • select ‘PhD Politics (full time) as the programme of study 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section: 

  • a ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form (one-page in length) 
  • the studentship code GPSNA7 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field 
  • when prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert –and your research proposal (up to 750 words)

In addition you will need to upload the following supporting documentation: 

  • covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote studentship reference code GPSNA7 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project 
  • degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if already completed.
  • you should also provide details of two referees 

If you would like to discuss before applying, please contact Dr Mwenza Blell directly.

Contact Details

[Email Address Removed]

[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Full tuition fees at the home rate plus annual tax-free maintenance grant equivalent to the National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (currently for 2022/23 this is £17,668 [full time equivalent]) across 3 years.
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