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PhD in Geographical & Earth Sciences - Changing faces: social enterprise and geographies of appearance

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Prof H Parr  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This collaborative PhD is based on a partnership between academics researching the geographies of (mental) health/disability and Remake Up (, a social enterprise in Glasgow that uses profits to fund subsidised or free permanent make-up (paramedical tattooing) for those with disfigurement or critical illness experiences involving facial or other bodily change. This PhD research will explore the impact of social enterprise in the context of medical tatooing, directly addressing a pressing social issue for a vulnerable group in a wider society that tends to operate with a relatively narrow set of facial aesthetics. The results will be an impactful research record for charities, social enterprise and NHS services that provide aesthetic reconstructions.

The academic contribution of the PhD will address a research gap in the social sciences to consider the face and facial politics (after Edkins, 2015). There is almost a complete lack of such research in human geography, and this study will specifically address this lacuna. The project will contribute original and innovative data and research publications to contemporary scholarship on ‘geographies of the body’.

Objectives / research questions

This PhD seeks to understand the diverse geographies of people marked out by their perceived facial and bodily differences. Its three specific objectives are:

1. To excavate the experience of disabling spatialities of facial disfigurement from the perspective of those with changed/changing faces.

2. To partner with a social enterprise, REMAKE UP, who provide paramedical tattooing, so as to understand the role of permanent cosmetics, together with a cosmetic aftercare service, in rebuilding social and spatial lives of disfigured or ill people.

3. To provide an impactful evidence base to both REMAKE UP and related National Health Services (NHS) about the social value and legacy of paramedical tattooing for those with changed/changing faces resulting from illness and disability.

The project will produce new findings relating to an under-researched social issue in ways that will be useful to organisations and individuals involved in the support of a highly vulnerable population.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

• (If applying on a 1+3 basis) A good first degree (at least 2:1) in human geography or an equivalent social science/arts and humanities subject
• (If applying on a +3 basis) Have a Masters degree that contains ESRC approved research training
• Have a working knowledge of social-scientific research, through any disciplinary background, on matters of disability, chronic illness and bodily difference.
• Have a good grounding in, and ideally experience of using, qualitative research methods (interviewing, ethnographies)

Funding Notes

The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in October 2019. It includes:

• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate (2018/19 rate £14,777 full-time)
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here: